Developer Crowbar Collective has dropped several pieces of news on Steam. The big one is the release of the Black Mesa Xen Museum update. It’s actually a pretty cool hybrid, involving an update and an official mod. It allows players to see some of the many iterations the Xen levels went through in development and more. Before we go into detail on that, they also made a couple of smaller announcements in their news post.
The first of those smaller announcements highlights the fact that Black Mesa is on sale half off until May 2nd. The other announcement is that they are humbled at their inclusion in Dreamhack’s “Dreamies”. The award show will be live streaming on Friday, April 30th (Twitch.tv/DreamHack). Black Mesa is nominated in two categories: “Wait Worthy” and “Refreshing Revive”
The Black Mesa Xen Museum update is composed of a game patch, and the new official mod (Xen Museum) containing the museum. The new Black Mesa game patch adds the option to change your multiplayer character model, a big pile of new language options, a credits page for the translators, and some new bug fixes. You can find out more about the base game in our Black Mesa review.
A Virtual Museum of Sorts
The Xen Museum mod is a very cool idea, and the image at the top of this article is its fancy lobby. Players can explore earlier iterations of the game’s Xen levels and see how they’ve evolved as development raged on. Crowbar Collective have also included in the mod some never-before-seen maps! This interactive, virtual museum of sorts preserves a chunk of the game’s creation process that would otherwise have been lost to history.
The developers stress that because these are levels from earlier in development, players should expect some bugs and glitches. This is because they are incomplete versions from earlier in development, plus the fact that the game’s code has changed many times since then. The Xen Museum mod is meant to be a bonus or time capsule for fans, not a fully playable game. So players are also asked to not report bugs due to the incomplete nature of the older content in the mod.
Re-imagining a Legend
Black Mesa started life as a fan re-imagination of the original Half-Life, which was released by Valve Software back in November 1998. It went on to become a full-fledged game selling on Steam, and running on Valve’s own Source Engine. Valve had themselves made a better version of the original game called Half-Life: Source, though that basically just ported it into the more modern Source Engine. Like the original game, Black Mesa has garnered very positive reviews from players.
Crowbar Collective’s level of success is a pretty tall order, given the scope of the project. There’s also the fact that scientist Gordon Freeman’s adventure through an ailing Black Mesa research facility is a beloved game to say the least. Half-Life was also a hugely influential game within the FPS genre in that era. Nonetheless, they have certainly managed to win over fans of the original, as the amount of work and attention to detail that went into every Black Mesa level is hard to miss.