If we acknowledge that many jokes have been made about the Half-Life series then may we, you and I, accept that there’s no need for us to crack any more and vow never to ever again ever?
The commercial version of Black Mesa [official site], the fan-made remake of Valve’s seminal Half-Life, arrived on Steam today at 14.99/$19.99. On Steam Early Access, to be precise, as it’s still missing the Xen chapters. While those are absent, present are new additions since the free mod release like Steam Workshop support and deathmatch on six classic HLDM maps.
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Less than 24 hours remain on the countdown clock at the Black Mesa Research Facility website, which has switched to a new and rather alarming emergency broadcast. I'm pretty sure it's actually the same message the site began to broadcast over the new year, although some details may have changed. Either way, it's a chilling (and exciting!) notification that something has gone very wrong at Black Mesa.
The teaser website is fun, but practically speaking it's the appearance of the Black Mesa Workshop on Steam that points to all of this hype being somehow related to Black Mesa, the Source engine-based remake of the original Half-Life. It could be that the Xen levels, which aren't currently part of Black Mesa, are ready for release, or it could signal the long-awaited launch of the retail version of the game on Steam.
The Workshop contains seven maps, all for multiplayer battles, as well as an eighth, entitled, "asdf0," which as we all know is computer-speak for, "This is a test." There's no store page link, however, and the home and discussion links lead to either the Steam storefront or the Steam Workshop front pages; trying to "manually" reach a Black Mesa store page by using the app ID number from the Workshop page in a regular Steam URL is also a bust.
Despite the near-certitude that this is all tied into Black Mesa, more resolutely optimistic fans may still maintain hope that it's all a lead-up to the announcement of Half-Life 3. Buried in the code of the BMRF.us website is an ascii image of the mysterious G-Man, above a link to "THREE.WebGLRenderer." It's not exactly "confirmed!" but dare to dream, right?
Whatever it is, the countdown clock will hit zero at 9:47 Mountain Standard Time on May 5. Be ready.