Black Mesa


Gordon Freeman is iconic to the FPS genre. The crowbar wielding theoretical physicist that battles aliens is the lead character in Valve’s claim to fame, Half-Life.

Even today Half-Life stands up as nothing less than incredible, showing signs of the old style exploration in FPS with the more modern flavor of current gen games. Of course, after all this time, the fourteen year old game shows its age in the visuals, but who better to remedy that than the fans themselves?

Welcome, to Black Mesa. A full on remake of Half-Life in the Source Engine.

Every bit of the game has been touched upon, bringing it even more to life than it was originally while keeping the story alive.

For someone like myself, tired of the short, linear FPS that plague the current market, Black Mesa provides a new way to experience a game that most everyone knows and loves.

Amid all of the nostalgia that is invoked with Black Mesa, only one glaring issue presents itself to me: jumping was nerfed. Every crate that looks easily jumpable actually requires a crouch jump, making the game a bit more clunky than necessary, taking into account the large amounts of platforming required, though this is a minor complaint when I can enjoy a game that brought me into the gaming world with oh so much more atmosphere.

While this mod doesn’t include the Xen levels, it’s still very much worth a look considering its low, low price of free and the fact that the devs are working on expanding the Xen campaign to be released separately.

Pick up the mod here or grab the excellent soundtrack here.

If you have the time to try it out, go for it and relive the glory of the first, because we all know that a new one is a long while away.

Do you believe in magic?

The mumbling ambiguously gendered psychotic arsonist that the Team Fortress 2 community all knows and loves finally got his/her/its “Meet the Team” short yesterday, and what a way to round off the set it was.

Valve’s Meet the Team shorts were created as promotional tools for their, at the time, unreleased class based FPS. They were simple videos of the character explaining a bit about themselves, just to add a bit more flavor. Case in point: Meet the Heavy, the first of them. However, over the years they’ve changed. Become more focused on telling an entertaining story. Meet the Spy was the first to really amp things up, telling the story of our chain smoking rogue through the eyes of the BLU team instead of the RED team. Then came Meet the Medic, which took it even further. Here we had a video that explained a game mechanic, teased a new weapon, and topped it off with moments of humor and epicness. All in four minutes.

And now, on the final day of the long awaited Pyromania update, we’ve been given this gem. Vision through the eyes of this abomination – the eyes of my favorite character. And you know it’s bad when the Heavy is scared.

Words cannot describe how I feel about Meet the Pyro, so I’ll give you the link and let you come up with your own explanation.

I’m here to talk about the update as a whole. New items that look fun to use. No obviously bad or over powered weapons that I can see, each having their own uses (though the one weapon with new stats that the Pyro got is debatable). A new map with a new gamemode that I have yet to see anyone complain about, unlike a certain other gamemode (coughmedievalcough). New hats created by the community. And lastly, a whole host of balance changes that make my heart fill with joy.

Oh, and pyrovision. Pyrovision cannot be described any other way but “ridiculous and silly”. An all class pair of goggles (or a balloonicorn) that sends you to Pyroland.

I can’t talk about the fabulous reskins of the stock weapons that Pyro got without saying “rainbows and sparkles”, so “Rainbows and sparkles” is what you get on those.

This updates makes me happy but at the same time leaves me conflicted about this game. It was never meant to be super serious, but this.. This silliness is going so far that it’s disturbing. But that at the same time supports my view of the Pyro being a psychotic manchild.

I suppose I just never expected the Pyro to be that far gone from reality. A perfect example of Light not being Good, whereas the medic was a good example of Dark not being Bad.

In other news, Tribes: Ascend is F2P on Steam now! Download it from here! Gotta Go Fast!

Also in other news, Super MNC is still my favorite game on Steam, find it here! Gotta Gorilla Fast!

As always, you can find me on Steam here.

Believing in magic,

Steve.

Super Monday Night Combat

Almost a week ago now, I got into the Invitationals for Super Monday Night Combat (Shortened to Super MNC). The sequel/follow up to Uber Entertainment’s Monday Night Combat (MNC).

MNC was released in early 2011 and was advertised as a “Class-Based Third-Person Shooter”. It sported game play that reminded me a lot of a popular Warcraft 3 mod, Defense of the Ancients (DotA). DotA’s success as a mod spawned numerous games that emulated and built upon it’s unique style. These games, now forged into their own sort of sub-genre of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) have become increasingly popular and notorious for their high skill levels and highly elitist communities. MNC was not an exception to this rule. Slowly but surely, it’s poor community seemed to have ridden it into the ground, the fact that the game required purchase not helping it in this regard.

From the looks of it, Super MNC seems to want to build upon the original and create an over all better game. This time as a Free to play with micro-transactions to buy things like taunts, alternate uniforms, etc. So long as they don’t sell anything that disrupts balance, I can see this working quite favorably.

Currently, Super MNC is in an invitational stage and will be released spring this year.

After getting my invitation code, I jumped into the game as soon as I could. I queued up for a quick match and quickly glanced over my options for characters, or “Pros” as they are called in-game. Selecting the Monocle wearing robot named Karl, I saw my teammates and opponents selecting their own pros. Shortly after, the game began and Team Hot Shots was pitted against Team Ice Men in a jungle looking arena. Two lanes of bots started moving down predetermined paths past friendly turrets, meeting up with enemy bots that, of course, passed enemy turrets. They happily shot at each other while stationary, a common thing for MOBAs, while the Pros ran around killing bots for Experience to level up and upgrade their skills, occasionally clashing with enemy pros. A few minutes of this and most of the players were up to level 3 at least. I had finally gotten a feel for the different abilities and figured out their key bindings in time for an announcer to tell all of the players that the “annihilator” would be ready in thirty seconds. I watched as my teammates scrambled to the center of the map, going head to head with the enemy players and ignoring the bots, and for good reason. Those thirty seconds determined which team would activate the annihilator, destroying all of the opposing team’s bots and severely injuring their pros.

Every five minutes this would occur, with teams pushing hard to secure this scale tipping device to let their bots progress further and hopefully destroy the enemy turrets, gaining much needed money and moving ever closer to victory. Taking part in team battles to secure a neutral objective is something that isn’t quite common for MOBAs.

Killing enemy pros is still an important aspect of the game, as it removes said pro from the game for a certain amount of time, depending on their level and gives the killed a sizable amount of money which can be used to activate the annihilator, summon additional bots, or buy temporary boosts.

Eventually my team pushed passed the enemy defenses and escorted our bots the opponent’s Money Ball, where they took down it’s shield and allowed us to take it’s health down until it exploded in a shower of money, declaring our victory.

After this, we were taken to a post game stats screen, detailing how much progressive experience I gained and how much money I gained towards unlocking new Pros.

Overall, I’ve had a fantastic time with Super MNC. It’s a MOBA game that is more accessible to people, like myself, who have more experience with shooters than RTS. I can see this game becoming much greater than its predecessor and a reasonable competitor to other popular MOBAs, so long as the micro-transactions don’t become buying power and the community doesn’t become as elitist as MNC.

Check out Super MNC on the Steam Store or sign up for the Invitational.

If you care to play a game with me, I can be found on Steam here.

Until next time,

Steve