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Blip.049: Back to the Mesa
Have crowbar, will travel.
As much as I still love gaming on Xbox and Playstation consoles, once in a while I still wish I had a gaming PC. Like many PC gamers—at least those of us of a certain vintage—the first big narrative FPS I remember playing was Half-Life, which was released in 1998. Of course there were games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom that came before it, but I would hardly call them narrative. The basic premise of those early shooters was “if it moves, kill it.” Half-Life, by contrast, was built as a direct response to Doom and the clones that followed. In Half-Life, you play Dr. Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist who works at an underground lab called Black Mesa Research Facility. When a science experiment goes terribly wrong, a portal to another dimension is opened and you (as Gordon) have to fight through hordes of alien baddies to get to the surface. As a side note, I think Half-Life still has one of the best intro sequences of any game ever. In no uncertain terms, Half-Life changed the way video games were made. In 2004, Valve did it again when they released Half-Life 2, which eclipsed its predecessor in every conceivable way, including the size and scope, as well as the overall narrative. Twenty-years later, many people still regard Half-Life 2 as one of the best video games ever made, myself included.
Last week, Nvidia announced Half-Life 2 RTX which is a community-sourced reimagining of Half-Life 2, using Nvidia’s Omniverse platform and RTX ray tracing render pipeline. The level of visual detail and fidelity they’ve achieved, especially when viewed alongside the original game, is incredible. A few years ago, another team built a remake of the first Half-Life called Black Mesa, which looked terrific, but it’s nowhere near the level of detail of Half-Life 2 RTX. Actually, if you want to watch a terrific documentary on the building of the Black Mesa edition of Half-Life, check out the Noclip film Black Mesa: The 16-Year Project to Remake Half-Life. They also did one on a cancelled Half-Life sequel called Ravenholm as well as another really great film on the legacy of the games in the Half-Life universe and what may still be in the works.
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