Final levels for Half-Life homage fall into place

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 22 Nov 2018

The Black Mesa Xen levels are intended to both overhaul and remain faithful to an original Half-Life vision. — AFP Relaxnews

First-person adventure Half-Life set new standards when it launched 20 years ago. Now, approved fan homage Black Mesa is moving closer to completion, with a trailer for its next big update showing how its otherworldly final levels are taking shape.

Towards the end of 1998's paradigm-shifting action adventure Half-Life, goatee'd theoretical physicist and crowbar-wielding everyman gains access to a floating interplanar world called Xen.

As the closing chapter of that initial story, it became known for introducing a sharp, otherworldly contrast to the rest of the game and its government facility aesthetic – but the contrast was so great that Xen was often viewed as out-of-step with the rest of the experience.

Remake project Black Mesa, an ongoing affair since 2004, became commercially available in 2015, and the team at Crowbar Collective are now offering a preview of a planned 2019 delivery of the closing Xen levels.

But the Black Mesa" vision of Xen is a much more comprehensive reworking of its source material, stretching out to an estimated six hours (the rest of the game stands at 10 hours playtime).

It's by no means the only project designed to overhaul those Xen levels, but the very positive reception afforded to Black Mesa gives this well-anticipated update an elevated credibility.

"Our specific focus is on gameplay: crafting a fun and cohesive experience from start to finish," the team had said back in December 2016. "We want our version of Xen to feel like it really belongs with the rest of the game in terms of mechanics, cohesion and progression."

"But we also want to push the boundaries and explore this unique and varied setting; to build an experience that feels both fresh and familiar to players from all walks of Half-Life veterancy."

The Xen update is expected to release between April and June 2019.

Half-Life debuted on Nov 19, 1998. – AFP Relaxnews
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