In development since the release of Half-Life 2, Black Mesa is one of the largest, most ambitious, and most anticipated Mods ever created. The idea was to remake Half-Life in the Source engine, using modern graphics and physics, mix familiar elements with unexpected twists, and, this is the real kicker, do it all to the same obsessive, meticulous standards as Valve themselves. In many ways, Black Mesa's 8 year development time shows in all the right places: environments are obsessively detailed in a way that only continuous iteration can produce, offering far more nuance and indication of life than any of Valve's, or indeed, nearly anyone else's, efforts. Character models are much the same story: technically, they look as good as any Source-powered game, but the sheer number of unique models is simply staggering In my hours playing, I'm not sure if I have run into a single duplicate character and if I have, the game certainly has enough variety to have convinced me otherwise. Unfortunately, the necessarily low-budget of the mod comes through in the audio department: while the variety of character models is amazing, it seems that number of voice actors is much less so. This is one area where they definitely should have broken with tradition and expanded: in the original Half-Life, it's fine that every scientist and security guard had the same voice because they all looked the same, but here the fact that the grizzled old security guard has the same voice as the fresh-looking recruit is more than a little disconcerting. Gameplay is largely unchanged: movement and shooting feel instantly familiar while jump height has been shortened considerably, requiring the "jump-crouch" maneuver nearly everywhere, and you can now look down the sight of the Magnum (but not other guns). Aside from these and some other some small surprises, it's much the same as you remember. What has changed a bit more dramatically is the level design. While it still hews close to the original, several areas have been altered in a way that makes Black Mesa feel at once very familiar and excitingly new. As a whole, that's what Black Mesa is: a new and exciting experience that lets you live out your first experience with Half-Life all over again.