Monday, October 15, 2012

Black Mesa Review: Part 4 ("We’ve Got Hostiles")

We’ve Got Hostiles

                The first chapter in Half-Life/Black Mesa that is a quote from one of the NPCs, “We’ve Got Hostiles” is a chapter that allows the player to realize just how big this mess really is.

                The chapter opens beautifully in both Half-Life and Black Mesa with a scientist banging on the glass of a security office just before the guard is pulled into air vent. The distraught scientist then runs directly into a laser trip mine… wait a second, why are there laser trip mines setup around this area?...  As directed by the last NPC you met in Office Complex, you’re instructed to “keep going until you get to the surface”. But the elevator doesn’t get you to the surface. It gets you to an industrial-ish manufacturing area with conveyor belts, multiple storage and warehouse areas with forklifts, loading docks and freight elevators. I can imagine the Black Mesa team put considerable thought into how they wanted this chapter to look. The original version does not give much insight into the kind of level Valve was shooting for. What could possibly be ABOVE an Office Complex in a research facility?

                “We’ve Got Hostiles” isn’t a practically great chapter both in either Half-Life or Black Mesa but the draw of the level is seeing the shocking turn of events where Marines are dispatched into the Black Mesa Research facility to essentially contain the alien invasion and wipe out any surviving scientists. It’s the first chapter that Gordon gets the machine gun, shotgun and it’s also one of the shortest clocking in at just over 10 minutes. Remember, my recorded play through on youtube is trying to simulate a movie-like reaction. It’s not a long playthrough, it’s not really a walkthrough and it’s certainly not a guide. I’m just playing it as I would expect Gordon Freeman to react during the events that take place.

                One of the Marines calls out “Squad! We’ve got Freeman! which is interesting because that radio transmission occurs before I hear “We’ve got Hostiles”/”We’ve got heavy fire here”. Have the Marines known about [Gordon] this entire time?

                One of the things I like most about “We’ve got Hostiles” is the tension. Gordon finally gets to ride two giant freight elevators a considerable distance up. That’s progress on reaching the surface and a change of pace from constantly heading down to escape the Black Mesa complex. Right when blue sky is seen for the first time in the game, that glimmer of hopes of possibly surviving quickly dissolves when Gordon sees dozens of Marines on the surface all prepared to wipe him out. Gordon is forced back underground into a bunker after Marines release artillery fire. Gordon gets so close… only to end right back where he started. Literally.

                But there’s a bright side; “We’ve got Hostiles” ends with an NPC giving Gordon another mission. He must travel to the Lambda Complex on the other side of the base- The side of the base that Gordon does not have clearance for. Apparently there are scientists in this complex that know quite a bit about resonance cascades and even know a way to fix this. But how can that be? Isn’t the Black Mesa Research Facility the only facility conducting these kinds of experiments? So we get a bit of foreshadowing with the mention of the Lambda Complex as well as trying to find the Decommissioned Rail System and getting through the Rocket Test labs. Gordon is in for fun times ahead.

                Air vents in Chapter 5: 2 (dropping in after the Air assault) (shortcut to security office)
                Total Air Vents after the resonance cascade: 3 + 5 + 2 =  11 Vents