There’s a part of my brain that still feels surprise each and every time I’m reminded that Black Mesa exists, is out, playable and even buyable on Steam. The Half-Life 1 remake in Source was such a piece of vapourware for so long, and such a surprise to both actually see and enjoy when it came out, I can’t help but react that way. Now it’s even getting patched, with 0.3.0 bringing a huge number of fixes, as well as integrating some maps into Surface Tension that were never originally finished. It's like getting a slice of Half-Life 3, only it actually exists.
One of the best FPS games ever modded to be like one of the best FPS games ever, making one of the best FPS games ever.
Titled Surface Tension: Uncut, the patch adds about an hour of extra gameplay across three new maps and two updated ones. That’s not all that’s changed though, here’s the highlights:
- Up to 75% faster load times and fixed “Node graph out of date” on level load.
- Subtitles in Finnish, German, Italian, Norwegian, and Spanish.
- Implemented Cascaded Shadow Mapping (CSM), which adds dynamic shadows to outdoor maps.
- AI improvements to various enemies.
- Balance tweaks to weapons, improving the crowbar and explosive weapons, plus making reloads friendlier on weapon switching. The Tau was also reworked.
- A heap of bug fixes and level tweaks.
- Added many new assets (textures, sounds, models, particles), and improved quality of many existing assets as well as updated C3A1A, first map of Forget About Freeman, to use new Xen assets.
The team are quick to point out that no, this update does not contain Xen and they’re still working on it. The original mod and Steam release launched without the controversial and downright poor final fifth, with the team saying they wanted to significantly expand and redesign it to be up to par with the rest of the game. The ETA on that has been a long time coming, but much like with the mod itself, it’d be better for them to finish it properly than rush it out.