With the recent release of Black Mesa everyone seems to be very excited, but what are the main differences between Black Mesa and Half Life: Source?

2 Answers 2


Black Mesa is a fan made total conversion mod of HL2, recreating the original Half Life. A team of volunteer artists, coders and level designers have painstakingly recreated the beloved HL single player experience, adding vast amounts of new details such as more scenery objects, more detailed landscapes, and richer textures. They even recorded new dialog to freshen that up too.

Half Life: Source was a port by Valve of HL to the Source engine. There was no new content added and the textures werent updated, so the only differences were better lighting, shading, and physics. It looked a bit better, but played the same, and was really only ported as an experiment to test Source's modding capabilities.

In short, HL:S was a better way to experience HL if you'd never played it by the time HL2 arrived. BM is a chance at reliving all the magic again, but in a very new and handcrafted way.

  • Can mods running on/made for Source really be called "total conversion mods"?
    – Bobby
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 10:00
  • That's how they're branding it themselves on the official site. I'm not sure though if they mean it's based on the Source SDK as at the HL2 release, or if the starting point was HL2's actual code.
    – bbodien
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 13:50
  • 2
    HL: Source was such a disappointment, especially since they already had high-res textures in one the pre-Source special editions that I bought. Black Mesa is exactly what I've been wanted to play for years! Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 18:23
  • One thing that's struck me in playing it is that some of the reinterpreted map areas are vastly bigger than they were in the original game. The rocket silo and adjoining fan chambers seem much bigger this time around.
    – bbodien
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 14:24
  • I really thought the ambient sounds in the beginning of Black Mesa were some of the best in any game I've ever played. Really felt like the place was coming down around my ears.
    – AaronLS
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 5:46
  1. It's free, you only need to have any Source game installed on Steam.
  2. It is a remake, featuring new content and better graphics.
  • 2
    I think part of his question is what is the "new content" that you mention?
    – Sterno
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 11:49
  • Upvote for no. 1. It's an important distinction to make. Black Mesa is free, Half-Life Source is not. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 12:52
  • 3
    Quick update from 2015, Black Mesa is no longer free (at least not the most up to date version, the "legacy" version is still downloadable from their site). The game is now available as an "early access" game on Steam that is still being worked on: store.steampowered.com/app/362890
    – IQAndreas
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 13:41

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