Fan remake of Half-Life will finally see light of day on 14 September

4 Sep 2012

Fans of the award-winning Half-Life video game decided to remake it using superior software not available at the time of its original release in 1998. Now, after eight years in development, the game will finally be ready for release on 14 September.

The original Half-Life is a best-selling first-person shooter that won more than 50 awards and spawned both a sequel and a trilogy of new episodes (the third yet to be released).

Though the game’s creators, Valve (the people who also brought us the acclaimed Portal series), did launch a remake of the original alongside the release of Half-Life 2 in 2004, the improvements to the game were deemed insufficient, inspiring fans to have a go themselves.

Black Mesa screenshot

This was made possible by the release of the Source engine SDK by Valve, a more powerful game development environment with improved character animation allowing for more subtlety in facial expressions, advanced AI, real-world physics, improved lighting, and better graphics overall. The 40-strong fan development team has also edited the storyline of the original game slightly, to eliminate parts considered too dull or slow-moving and expand upon the more engaging segments.

Black Mesa screenshot

Countdown to Black Mesa

Half-Life fans will be able to go back to where it all started with Black Mesa, named after the research facility in which the game’s protagonist Dr Gordon Freeman is situated. The release date was confirmed when a countdown timer appeared on the Black Mesa project webpage saying, “They’re waiting for you Gordon”. The mysterious page also links to a letter inviting Dr Freeman to come and work at Black Mesa.

Black Mesa screenshot

Valve’s Half-Life franchise has sold more than 11m units worldwide, but creators of the fan remake will offer it up as a free download. The 14 September release will include the first segment of the game (expected to provide up to 10 hours of game-play) with the rest to follow at a later date.

Images via Black Mesa on Facebook

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.