Black Mesa (formerly Black Mesa: Source) is a fan project aiming to produce an enhanced version of classic FPS Half-Life in the latest version of the Source engine originally created by Valve for Half-Life 2. It began in 2004 when it became clear Valve's own game Half-Life: Source would be a port of the original rather than a full remake as some had speculated, and after many delays and some legal issues, Black Mesa was released on September 14, 2012.
An enhanced version by the same name, using the 2013 version of Source as opposed to the original 2007 version, and including Deathmatch mode which the original release omitted, was released on Steam Greenlight on May 5th 2015. Alongside other additions, this version had the chapter "Surface Tension" expanded in 2016, featuring some maps that were omitted from the original release. The older version ends immediately prior to the "Xen" segment: the developers have stated the 2012 version will never have this content released (though another fan group made an unofficial mod for the mod to add it). The newer version initially lacked that part as well, but the developers have released in-progress map shots of Xen in 2017, with a tentative release date of summer 2017: this was then delayed to December 2017, then again to an undisclosed date in 2018 with the December update instead adding new lighting effects, then again to Q2 2019. Eventually, the Xen portion was gradually released as part of four beta updates between late June and early December 2019, with outstanding improvements in comparison to its much-derided counterpart from the original Half-Life. The full 1.0 release of the game went live on March 6, 2020.
Alongside firearms, the game features fictional "experimental" weapons which won't be included in this page as they have no real-life counterparts.
The following weapons appear in the mod Black Mesa:
The standard pistol returns from Half-Life. The texture on the slide identifies it as a Glock 19, even though the pistol is modeled after the full-size Glock 17. It has two modes: primary fire is semi-auto and firecapped at a fairly slow rate with very high accuracy, while secondary fire is fully-automatic. In this mode, the gun fires at a fixed rate and becomes incredibly inaccurate. There is no fire selector on the model to explain precisely how it can do this: converted auto Glock 17s can only fire in automatic mode. Converted Glock 17s and the Glock 18 are also notorious for appallingly fast fire rates of up to 1,200 RPM, far greater than the in-game gun. It would require a redesign of the gun's slide and internals to get such a low rate of fire.
In the older mod version from 2012, the pistol has tritium illuminated sights. Holding down the firing button involves Gordon shooting at a moderate fire rate, while tapping the button allows the weapon to be fired incredibly fast, yet with still good accuracy.
The Colt Python makes a comeback from the original game. On the side it says ".357 PYTHON". The secondary fire key toggles the iron sights with increased zoom. It is also worth noting that the screw placement above the trigger guard is completely wrong for a Python.
When aiming down the sights in the older release, the firing mode seems to change from double-action to single-action (though the fire rate remains the same), as Freeman can be heard manually cocking the hammer back after each shot while the cylinder rotates to the next chamber, although the hammer always remains in uncocked position.
Heckler & Koch MP5A3 with M203PI grenade launcher
The MP5/M203 combo returns from Half-Life, and now both the first-person and third-person models are consistent, depicting an MP5A3. It has a railed handguard, and the M203PI grenade launcher is shortened. The weapon is found in the hands of Special Forces in Chapter 5 and onward. It has two reloading animations, one mid-magazine where the magazines are simply swapped (which can be difficult to do on an MP5 with a full magazine and the bolt closed, hence the usual HK slap), while the empty reload shows Gordon use his hand to lock the charging handle back before removing the magazine; he is shown riding it forward with his thumb rather than slapping it.
Like in the original Half-Life, the M203 is never seen being reloaded; this time, it comes with only three grenades instead of ten (like the MP7's grenade launcher in Half-Life 2).
The older version is modeled after the weapon seen in End of Days, including the barrel shroud and M203PI grenade launcher. While it is automatic, clicking the mouse once will fire a 3-round burst. It should be noted that the front sight of the weapon lacks the sight post, and the reload animation is incorrect, as it shows the cocking handle locking back automatically and coming forward by itself after the magazine is changed.
The SPAS-12 makes its return in Black Mesa. The one in the retail release actually looks less like an authentic SPAS-12, but more towards the original SPAS shotgun from the 1998 Half-Life. Like that game and Half-Life 2, the weapon has the unrealistic ability to fire two shells at the same time when the secondary fire key is used.
The old model of the SPAS-12 lacks rails. The one in Gordon's hands has no stock, but the world model of the shotgun has a stock in folded position (granted, given how the weapon is never far enough from the screen to see so much as the pistol grip, one could argue that Gordon is simply the only person in the entire game smart enough to unfold the stock; still though, the HUD icon lacks the stock).
An unknown or composite magazine-fed crossbow appears in Black Mesa. Arguably one of the best weapons in the game due to its one-hit-kill capability on almost anything, it has a magazine capacity of 5 bolts and comes equipped with a scope. The model in the retail release is based on the original crossbow from Half-Life.
The older 2012 version of the crossbow is modeled differently, and can be fired faster. It has an odd quirk: while the bow normally has to be pulled after each shot, the weapon is able to be fired in a semi-automatic fashion while aiming down the scope (at 80 RPM, as fast as the original crossbow from Half Life), as long as the player doesn't interrupt the firing process. In the Steam release from 2015, when the crossbow model was still the same, its behavior was temporarily changed to have the bow reset itself on its own while non-scoped as well, effectively giving it the higher rate of fire consistently.
The futuristic Armbrust rocket launcher seen in Half-Life returns in Black Mesa with similar functions. The alternate fire button switches between laser-guided mode and "blind-fire" mode. While it is fitted with what appears to be a telescopic rifle scope, this cannot be used.
Mk 2 Hand Grenade
The Mk 2 hand grenade can be found in abundance throughout the game as early as Chapter 3. Special Forces marines occasionally will use these to flush the player out of their hiding spot. The weapon is thrown overarm with the primary fire button and underarm with the alt-fire, and can be held to "cook" it. Precisely how it explodes is a little questionable, since the thrown model is the same as the pick-up one and so still has the pin and safety lever.
A backpack presumably filled with some type of demolition charges and rigged to a remote detonator is available.
Black Mesa features a high-res depiction of the fictional laser tripmine from Half-Life. The original mine appears to be based on the "laser tripbomb" from Duke Nukem 3D, which appears to have in turn been based on some kind of door keypad with a retinal scanner.
While laser-activated mines do exist (mostly not for military purposes as they would be easily located with IR sensors, explode when it rained, etc.), they typically require the placement of either a laser emitter which is separate from the mine, or a mirror to reflect the laser back into the device's detector. By itself, there would be no way for the mine to "know" the beam of light had been cut without either using a pulsed rangefinding laser instead of a continuous beam, or a fairly sophisticated imaging system linked to a camera monitoring the laser, and the imaging system of the latter could simply be used as a detonator itself. Laser traps also typically do not use visible-wavelength lasers, as fairness is not a major factor in their design.
The strange cannons found in the original Half-Life are replaced with tripod-mounted BGM-71 TOW launchers. Their depiction is very unrealistic: they lack a trigger assembly, lack the 1.5 second firing delay, and the spent tube simply vanishes when the missile is fired. There is an unusual bit of realism in that the player then has to locate a new missile tube and place it in the launcher manually. Unusable TOW launchers are also seen mounted on Humvees.
The Browning M2HB appears as a usable emplaced weapon in the mod. It is mostly seen in small fortified bunkers mounted on tripods. All the M2s have unlimited ammunition and can completely dismember aliens and humans with one shot. Special Forces marines may use the weapon against the player if it isn't already occupied. It is also mounted on the commander's hatch of Abrams tanks.
M230 Chain Gun
The M230 Chain Gun can be seen mounted on Apache helicopters.
LAV-25s and M1 Abrams main battle tanks mount a coaxial M240C machine gun.
An M240D machine gun is mounted alongside the M2HB on Abrams tanks.
M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun
The M242 Bushmaster Chain Gun is mounted on LAV-25s, which replace the M2 Bradley IFVs from the original game as the United States Marine Corps utilizes the LAV; the Bradley is used by the US Army.
Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with GP-30 grenade launcher
The Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with a Russian GP-30 grenade launcher, RIS handguard, EOTech holographic sight and MP5K-PDW style side-folding stock was cut from the final version of the mod, with the MP5 included simply being a recreation of the model from the original game. (Note that the M203 or GP-30 launchers are not capable of being mounted on an unmodified MP5 variant in real life.)
M4A1 with M203 Grenade Launcher
The M4A1 (substituting the Model 727 seen as the HD and PS2 replacement of the MP5 in the original game) was cut from the mod during development.
The Half-Life Series
|GoldSource Series||Half-Life (1998) • Half-Life: Opposing Force (1999) • Half-Life: Blue Shift (2001) • Half-Life: Decay (2001)|
|Source Series||Half-Life 2 (2004) • Half-Life: Source (2004) • Half-Life 2: Episode 1 (2006) • Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (2007)|
|VR||Half-Life: Alyx (2020)|
|Fan-Made Projects||Black Mesa (2012)|