Black Mesa (formerly Black Mesa: Source) is a fan project developed by Crowbar Collective and 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 a 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 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.
A remake of Half-Life’s expansions Opposing Force and Blue Shift, developed by a different team, is scheduled for release under the name Operation: Black Mesa.
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 video game Black Mesa:
The standard pistol returns from Half-Life, now a 3rd Generation model. 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. It may be entirely possible that the secondary fire was semi-auto, but with rapid shots instead.
Glock 17 (3rd Gen) - 9x19mm Parabellum
Glock 17 (4th Gen) - 9x19mm Parabellum
Freeman picks up the first Glock in Black Mesa
, courtesy of a security guard...
Freeman gets a little too
close to the action and dirties his Glock.
Firing the Glock in the first Xen map.
Freeman performs a partial reload in another area of Xen; note the proper trigger discipline. Also note the "19" on the slide, the lack of the Glock logo, and the strange camo-like pattern on the slide.
Freeman takes a peek into a magazine (with only one round loaded) in the idle animation.
A closeup of the third-person model, thanks to the HEV suit's zooming capability (which is rather out of place, since the zoom function was offered with the HEV Mark V used in Half-Life 2
, and not with the Mark IV from the first Half-Life
). Note that it has the grip texture of a 4th Gen that fills the same surface area as on a 2nd Gen.
A guard wonders who hired this doctor as Freeman inspects a guard's Glock. Almost all security guards carry Glocks in their holsters, though a few of them carry Colt Anacondas.
Freeman corners a Black Ops assassin to take a closer look at her Glocks. Unlike the original Half-Life
, their Glocks are now dual-wielded, and no longer have suppressors (but they still sound suppressed); strangely, they don't drop their pistols when killed, instead dropping a single Glock magazine.
In the older mod version from 2012, the pistol has tritium illuminated sights and is modelled after a 2nd Generation version. 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.
Glock 17 (2nd Gen) - 9x19mm Parabellum
3D rendering of the Glock.
The Glock in "Surface Tension".
Reloading; note that here, the Glock logo is present, although it is still misidentified as a 19. Unlike the retail version (or the original Half-Life
), there is only one reloading animation, which always shows the pistol empty, despite an animation for a non-empty reload existing.
Idle animation. This was not the brightest idea, given the absent surfaces normally hidden when firing or reloading, though considering how fast it is spun, this is not very noticable in-game.
The Colt Anaconda replaces the Python from the original game. Its model is a retextured version of the one from Half-Life 2, and like that game, it is misidentified as a Python, with its markings reading ".357 PYTHON" and its ammo boxes being labeled as .357 Magnum. The secondary fire key toggles the iron sights with increased zoom.
Colt Anaconda - .44 Magnum
Freeman checks the cylinder when picking up the first Anaconda in the game.
Freeman, mistaking his crystal testing day for "bring your gun to work" day, holds his Colt Anaconda.
Removing the rounds from the Anaconda, now with an actual ejector rod, although the crane is still completely stationary. While the primers are now fixed (compared to the version below), they are never dimpled, and always stay unstruck. On another note, Freeman appears to have changed ammo brands - the brass casings are now nickel-plated (done by companies such as Winchester, Hornady, etc.).
Freeman places six new shells (still lacking bullets) into the revolver. It is worth noting that Freeman has lost his magic touch: he properly uses a speedloader.
Freeman fiddles with the hammer as he observes Black Mesa's toxic waste waterfall.
Freeman runs through work, showing off Black Mesa
’s new lighting effects on the revolver.
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.
3D rendering of the Anaconda.
Freeman holding his Colt Anaconda.
Aiming down the sights. The revolver is brought much closer to the player's view compared to the retail release.
Ejecting the rounds from the cylinder. Something terrible appears to have happened to their primers. Additionally, there is no ejector rod in first person with the crane remaining shut, and Freeman simply taps the front of the cylinder to eject the cases.
Freeman's fight with the Black Ops was so intense that the blood even reached his reserve shells (their model lacks the actual bullets). Much like Half-Life 2
, there is no speedloader, so the rounds are just magically held together.
Third-person view of the revolver, which actually has a visible ejector rod. The model appears to have been mirrored as the ejector rod and release lever is on the right hand side of the revolver.
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 the HECU marines 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.
The MP5 holds 30 rounds in singleplayer, and 45 rounds in multiplayer. Like in the original Half-Life, the M203 is never seen being reloaded (although the animation visibly depicts the player character pulling the grenade launcher trigger); this time, it comes with only three grenades instead of ten (like the MP7's grenade launcher in Half-Life 2).
Heckler & Koch MP5A3 with Surefire 628 dedicated forend weaponlight and flash hider - 9x19mm Parabellum
RM Equipment M203PI - 40x46mm
Freeman picks up the MP5 and checks out the right side.
He then takes a peek into the magazine, which, again, appears to only contain one round.
Freeman holds the MP5. Unlike the old version, there actually is a front sight post and the rear aperture sight has been replaced with a notch sight.
Pulling the charging handle back.
Removing the empty magazine while in Xen.
Freeman sprints with the MP5.
A couple of grenades prior to launching; note the markings which denote them as M433 HEDP (high-explosive dual-purpose) rounds.
In-world model of the submachine gun.
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.
Heckler & Koch MP5A3 with mounted M203PI grenade launcher used by Arnold Schwarzenegger
in End of Days
- 9x19mm Parabellum & 40x46mm grenade
Firing the M203 grenade launcher.
The MP5 in third person. In contrast to this model, the HUD icon at the top left still shows the cut MP5A5 with PDW-style folding stock mentioned at the end of the article; this is also still the case in the retail version.
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 button is used.
Franchi SPAS-12 without stock - 12 gauge
Freeman picks up the first SPAS-12 in the game, showing off the rather odd heat shield it has.
First-person view of the SPAS-12, which appears to have caught a case of Extraneous RIS Syndrome from Black
Freeman reloads, somehow holding the SPAS-12 one-handed and in an awkward position, but with the upside of the shells actually being inserted into the loading gate.
He then proceeds to fire a warning shot into the wall.
The idle animation involves Freeman taking a look at the right side of the shotgun.
The old model of the SPAS-12 lacks rails and has a heat shield that matches a real SPAS. 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).
Franchi SPAS-12 - 12 gauge
3D rendering of an early SPAS-12 model. This version of the shotgun has a left-handed ejection port and a folded stock, possibly explaining why there is one on the third-person model.
Freeman with his SPAS-12.
A security guard holding a SPAS-12 with the stock folded.
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.
In singleplayer, the fire rate is quite low, due to the time Freeman takes to pull the string. In multiplayer however, the string resets itself on its own, effectively giving the crossbow a higher rate of fire (as fast as the original Half-Life). The latter also behaves like the multiplayer version of Half-Life in that it fires explosive bolts when unscoped, and hitscan (but non-explosive) bolts when scoped.
Freeman pulls out the crossbow, showing us the right side.
Freeman gets into position.
Aiming at a giant flower in Xen. The downgraded visual style of the scope (compared to the old version) and lack of dual render are a result of a December 2017 patch, implemented due to rendering issues. The magnification was also rather low at first, but this was later increased.
Pulling the string with the attached grabber.
Like the Glock, MP5 and SPAS-12, the crossbow has different reloading animations for a partial magazine and an empty one.
A crossbow found in the chapter "Questionable Ethics". Unlike the first-person model (but like the original Half Life
model), the grabber is shown on the left side.
The older 2012 version of the crossbow is modeled differently, and can be fired faster. It has an odd quirk: while the string normally has to be pulled after each shot, the weapon can be fired in a semi-automatic fashion while aiming down the scope (again, as fast as in Half-Life), as long as the player doesn't interrupt the firing process.
3D render of an early version of the crossbow. This version of the crossbow is the one referenced for the world model and HUD icon.
Aiming down the scope of the crossbow at a HECU marine who has rappelled onto a cliff. The scope is dual-rendered, though the area outside of it is still slightly zoomed in.
Reloading. The string will snap forward when the reload begins. Note the strange battle rifle-size magazine, which appears to contain dartgun projectiles rather than crossbow bolts.
The idle animation involves Gordon wiping the lens of the scope with his thumb.
A couple of crossbows in the personal collection of a security guard. Note the disproportion of their third-person model compared to the additional magazine below.
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.
Freeman picks up the Armbrust, first by opening up the screen...
...then pressing a couple buttons...
...and finishing by loading in a rocket.
Freeman holding the launcher.
The Armbrust is fired. Note the launching rocket to the right of the closest light to the top.
Freeman can't ditch old habits! He reloads the Armbrust in the same manner as the original Half-Life
(bringing the launcher to him and sliding the warhead in from the side) rather than the Half-Life 2
-like animation used in the earlier version.
The Armbrust in third person. Like in the old version, it lacks the rocket, but this time it is justified by the fact that Gordon himself loads a rocket when picking up the launcher for the first time (although it still doesn't explain why a rocket will be acquired when it is picked up).
A cache of rockets provided by a security guard.
3D render of an early Armbrust model. This early version of the launcher is based on the HD version of the launcher in Half-Life
; it survives in the full game as the HUD icon.
The Armbrust that can be acquired for the first time. The third-person model lacks the rocket.
Freeman holding the launcher.
A closeup of the launcher. The marking at the rear is one of the warning labels from an M136 AT4
; it also has the AT4's "fire like this" illustration at the front of the tube.
Mk 2 Hand Grenade
The Mk 2 hand grenade can be found in abundance throughout the game as early as Chapter 3. HECU 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.
Freeman tosses up the first Mk 2 grenade in the game. The idle animation is much the same.
Gordon holding a Mk 2 grenade.
Strangely, thrown grenades will produce a smoke and spark effect. This appears to have been done to make thrown grenades easier to spot.
3D rendering of an earlier version of the grenades. The world model in the final game appears to be based on this version of the grenade model, judging by the fuze (the viewmodel uses a WWII-era fuze design, whereas the world model and this early version use a postwar design).
Freeman holding a grenade.
A backpack presumably filled with some type of demolition charges and rigged to a remote detonator is available.
Freeman holding a satchel charge in the expanded section of "Surface Tension".
Readying the detonator, which occurs after throwing at least one charge.
Gordon holding a satchel charge as he is assaulted by a Gargantua.
Some satchel charges in third person.
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.
First-person view of the tripmine.
Third-person closeup of a non-activated laser tripmine. Presumably the two keypad-like sections are supposed to be the fragment generating portions since they are pre-scored like a grenade casing. A heroic attempt has been made to make the mine look like a functional device with little notes as to what each button on the surface does and printed instructions, though it is missing a few components such as a fuze well and lens protector that such a device would have if it existed.
Gordon walks into an area infested with laser tripmines, with the extreme caution of using his invisible hands to carry a dead headcrab around.
Our tripmine-equipped protagonist is greeted by a scientist. In the old version of the game, the mine is held in a similar way to the original Half-Life
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.
BGM-71 TOW mounted on M220 tripod with daysight tracker - 152mm
Firing the TOW. Note that the launcher model has no bridging clamp, meaning there would be no interface between launcher and missile and the weapon could not be fired. The crosshair is that of whatever weapon Gordon was holding prior to manning the TOW (in contrast to the earlier version, which used the MP5's crosshair).
A TOW mounted on a Humvee.
The launcher in use, with the instructions popping up on the right when it is manned for the first time. Note the laser sight coming out of the night vision scope, which is not how TOW works at all; the old mod version has a visible beam coming out, whereas the retail version simply has a laser dot.
An empty TOW with a missile next to it. A blue band on a missile tube would normally indicate it was inert, though the tube being grey doesn't really mean anything. Note also that the launcher lacks the additional power supply and fire control modules it would need if it wasn't already missing key parts of itself.
Freeman about to load a fresh missile, worried by the fact that he's the only individual in the whole game not to cast a shadow, and by the question of what quasi-ethical alien research allows the TOW to fire when the trigger assembly is missing.
The Browning M2HB appears as a usable emplaced weapon in the game. 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. HECU 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.
Browning M2HB on M3 tripod - .50 BMG
The Browning M2HB in Black Mesa.
Closeup of the belt and writing on the box. This is a World War 2-era M2 ammo can; it would be more likely to see a 100-round M2A1 ammo can on a modern M2.
Firing the M2 at a wave of Vortigaunts. Note how the gun is able to absorb their electric attacks, which doesn't make it any less effective.
An unmounted M2 near the end of "On A Rail".
The M2HB on an M1 Abrams.
An M2 detached from an Abrams after the tank has been destroyed.
M230 Chain Gun
The M230 Chain Gun can be seen mounted on Apache helicopters.
Hughes/Alliant Techsystems M230 Chain Gun - 30mm
The Apache firing its M230 at Freeman.
LAV-25s and M1 Abrams main battle tanks mount a coaxial M240C machine gun.
M240C vehicle coaxial-mount version - 7.62x51mm NATO
The M240C on a LAV-25. The four tubes to the left of it are the barrels of an M243 smoke grenade launcher, which isn't used in-game.
A close-to-death Gordon struggling around an Abrams and finally getting his eyes at its M240C. Note that the main gun incorrectly elevates independently of the gun mantlet; the two are actually a single assembly, and it is impossible for the M240 and the main gun to point in different directions as here.
An M240D machine gun is mounted alongside the M2HB on Abrams tanks.
M240D vehicle and aircraft-mount version with spade grips - 7.62x51mm NATO
The M240D on the top of an Abrams.
A worse-for-wear M240D after the tank has been destroyed.
M242 Bushmaster Chaingun
The M242 Bushmaster chaingun 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.
M242 Bushmaster Chaingun - 25mm
Freeman only managed to get up here by blinding the operators with science.
Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with GP-30 grenade launcher
The Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with a Russian GP-30 grenade launcher (without its pistol grip), 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 being a recreation of the one from End of Days. Note that the GP-30 cannot be mounted on an unmodified MP5 variant in real life.
Heckler & Koch MP5A5 with PDW stock, Bushnell Holosight, RIS foregrip, and KAC railed forend - 9x19mm Parabellum
GP-30 grenade launcher - 40mm VOG-25
3D rendering of the MP5A5 with a GP-30 launcher and a holographic sight.
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.
M4A1 carbine with M203 grenade launcher - 5.56x45mm / 40x46mm
3D rendering of the M4A1.