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Black Mesa: Xen Preview: Fixing the weakest part of Half-Life 1




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Valve-approved fan remake to correct Half-Life's Lone bug.

Many gamers consider Half-Life 2 Valve's biggest hit and one of the best games ever made. I have always preferred the original half-life. With no respect for Alyx, Dog or the gravity cannon, the mystery of the Black Mesa facility, the slow onion peeling of one weird layer at a time, reveal the secret of the G-Man and, so many do not forget the two ends (!) That the original delivered always left a lasting impression on me. But what turns Half-Life 1

over for many people – and that's hard to dispute – is a special part of the campaign: Xen. The alien dimension is nearing the end of Gordon Freeman's Excellent Science Adventure and was … certainly a disappointment after experiencing GOAT quality by then.

Black Mesa: Xen tries it right Half-Life is lonely wrong. The community-developed Remake Black Mesa has been in use for several years, and the Pre-Xen portion of the game has been available for four years on Steam Early Access. The Crowbar Collective team is finally ready to stop working with Xen. Xen summarizes the foreign part of the story to stand against the rest of Valve's masterpiece. The beta I played contains three chapters from the brand new levels. If you are curious, this disc is foreseen for an upcoming release.

TOP: Watch the first few minutes of the new Xen chapters in Black Mesa, Valve's sanctioned Half-Life 1 remake.

"[19659005] The new Xen is not a walk through the (extraterrestrial) park.

The beta consists mainly of exploration games. The long jump capability built into Gordon's HEV suit is used generously here, but what you have to jump out of first is the color palette. Purple, blue and green abound, in sharp contrast to the gray that dominates much of the Black Mesa at the front end of the adventure. A few of the bouncing puzzles even managed to surprise me for a few minutes, which I greatly appreciated; The new Xen is not a walk in the (extraterrestrial) park. There is a danger, yes, but in the three chapters offered in the beta, the feeling and tempo are very different than in the non-Xen chapters.

Granted, I did not have time to redo the entire Black Mesa / Half-Time version. Living to find the most organic way possible in Xen, but my mind and the memory of one of the best games of all time branded into my brain shows me that Xen blends well into the entire half-life arc. This is important in a project like this, given the stakes. The Crowbar Collective has the weight of Valve's blessing for the project and years of fan-hype and anticipation. Not to mention the fact that they are all die-hard half-life fans, and they do their very best to make Xen a worthy addition to a classic.

TOP: Watch nine minutes of new Xen exploration game levels.

Convince yourself in the gameplay clips above, and in the meantime, we'll be watching the progress of Black Mesa: Xen.

Ryan McCaffrey is IGN's Executive Editor of Previews. Follow him on Twitter @DMC_Ryan catch him at Unlocked and send him Taylor Ham sandwiches whenever possible from New Jersey.


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