The Returning

for Half-Life

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

In this 15-map mappack, you get to revisit the Black Mesa Research Facility.

Of course, nothing goes the way you expect it – that is if you expect it to go smoothly!

You will need to fight your way through and solve puzzles along the way to reach the waiting helicopter.

Are you smart and determined enough? Let’s find out.

Basic Details
  • Title: The Returning
  • File Name: hl1-sp-the-returning.7z
  • Size : 3.58MB
  • Author: Tibor Horváth
  • Date Released: 08 July 2014
MapTap Users

Download directly into MapTap [3.58MB]

You MUST have MapTap installed before using this link.

Download Options

Download to your HDD [3.58MB]

You can still use it with MapTap once you have downloaded it.

Manual Installation Instructions
  • Copy all the maps in the Maps folder into your C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Half-Life\valve\maps folder.
  • Launch Half-Life
  • Open the console and type map SAJ1 and press ENTER.

Alternatively, just use MapTap and save yourself a lot of trouble.
If you require more help, please visit the Technical Help page.

Videos

The playthrough/walkthrough below is provided by PlanetPhillip. See more of my playthroughs on this site: VP: PlanetPhillip
Unfortunately, the video below has no commentary from e – the mic was disabled when I installed some new webcam software. It’s a pity, because this time I said some amazing and clever things.

Screenshots

Click on the tabs below to select the size of screenshot you would like.
All sizes are the same screenshots, just in different resolutions.
WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

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Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Maybe
Play It Later
Play It Now!

9 recommendations, average score: 4.78 (out of 5), standard deviation: 0.17 (what's that?)
Total Downloads
  • 1,905
    Overall
  • 3
    Today
  • 8
    Last 7 days
  • 30
    Last 30 days
  • 333
    365 days
Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 9 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: 2 Users
Manually: 7 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 4 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 22 Mins by Urby
Longest: 1 Hours, 25 Mins by PlanetPhillip
Total Time Played: 9 Hours, 40 Mins
Jump to a review
Phillip says Play It!Play It LaterPlay It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!Play It LaterPlay It Now!Play It Now!Play It Now!

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Help me create more and better content - please support me on Patreon

20 Comments

  1. Phillip says Play It!

    Now, when I say “Play It Now!”, I mean it in the sense that there are some good parts and some bad parts. Not in the sense of “OMG, this is great! Actually, stop what you are doing and play it.”

    So now we have that cleared up, let’s talk about the mod.

    A lot of the time it’s unfair and unforgiving. Not in the sense that it is really hard, but in the sense that some thing don’t make sense (what is it with me and “sense” today?).

    Basically, the areas are of average design and build, but most of the gameplay is fun.

    There are a few areas that could be really good but they lack that special attention to detail.

    The transitions between areas is often abrupt and strange, worse, they don’t always make sense.

    All in all, I quite enjoyed the hour and a half I spent playing it, but I wouldn’t dare play it twice.

  2. SAJ1 -> SAJ2A transition is bugged here, i spawn outside of the map every time. Anyone else having this same prob?

    Edit: heck, same problem with every map change.Strange.

    1. I had the same problem with SAJ1 -> SAJ2A transition. I loaded SAJ3 and came back with NOCLIP to the transition from other side, and then played as usually.

      1. I must have been lucky then, as I had no issues with level transitions at all.

  3. Play It Later

    (EDIT: I crashed out of the game half-way into my play session and MapTap reset my time. It needs another 25 minutes on there… sorry)

    I actually found myself enjoying this little map pack for the most part. It was very nice to see some alternative ways of progressing through a level. Rather than entering a room, shooting all the bad guys and then moving on the next room, this has a few nice puzzles and the answer isn’t always spoon fed to the player.

    On the other hand, there are some parts of this that really put me off. First of all, headcrabs. There are far too many of them in this series of levels and the designer resorts to cheap tricks such as putting them directly around corners in every single vent, spawning them en masse directly in front of you and sometimes behind you. Making headcrabs unavoidable really shouldn’t be used to such a high frequency. They quickly became very irritating.

    Also, while the maps had some clever ways of letting you progress, the actual design leaves a lot to be desired. Whether it is a first set of maps for the author or design simply took a back seat to puzzles and gameplay, the lack of detailing, blocky design and some really unusual texturing choices make this score a little lower for me sadly.

    If this were to be cleaned up and brought up to modern day standards, and if the combat aspect was a little more balanced, this would rate much much higher in my opinion.

  4. Hi everyone!
    Thank you for your comments and for trying my map pack!
    I have a few things to note:
    I made this map pack 12 years ago, in 2002(!) for my own entertainment with the Worldcraft map editor.
    In 2012 I uploaded some gameplay videos to YouTube. I think Phillip saw this videos and thanks to him now, in 2014 this map pack is posted on his site! 🙂 I’m very proud!
    In 2002 I have just learned about map editing. In my opinion, as we follow each other on the maps, the levels are getting better. Of course, now I have a lot of things I would do differently.
    I’m just asking, if someone tries this map pack, take account of these.
    I wish you all an enjoyable game! 🙂
    Regards: Tibor Horváth(from Hungary) the Author

    1. Well, for a first map pack from 12 years ago, this is pretty damn good. Did you stick with mapping or did you move on to another hobby?

      1. I agree. I thought it was made recently.

      2. Hi!
        I like to edit maps even now. 🙂
        I started a HL2 map pack, but this is not ready yet. I like the Source SDK Hammer Editor, but I think, it’s much more difficult to create high-quality map for HL2, as HL1. The big trouble is: I’m working on a map slowly and meticulously. I’m testing all the complicated stuff on the “test map”.
        I already made maps for Dungeon Siege, UT 2003, Quake I-III and now I’m working on a Neverwinter MMO quest with Foundry editor.
        And one more thing: I’m a vet(57!) and my son(20) also make maps(Warcraft III) 🙂
        Regards: Tibor

  5. Play It Now!

    I played this over a couple of day’s (that’s the way I play) it was good, not great but good nonetheless! (so my total time is a guess).

    Since playing I’ve noted that some have had problems with transitions and spawning headcrabs but I had no such problems. The only reason I can think of is the contents of the graph folder were incorrectly placed, I put everything in manually (copy/paste) and all was fine.

    Overall this was above average modding/mapping for its age (as I’ve now found out its a 12yr old map), where it lets itself down is like many of its time, is sticking too rigidly to Black Mesa as we knew it but that was then and this is now.

    In reality this was fun to play and I look for fun not technical excellence in any game I play.

  6. I liked the long gameplay time, although it was generally too easy. Still, its something to play right now 🙂

  7. Play It Now!

    Well, I wouldn’t consider this a fair review, because the game kept crashing due to the glitchy map transitions, but from what I played, I rreally enjoyed it.

    I only experienced a few headcrabs and a vortigaunt on my playthrough, and the environments are very BM.

    Apart from that, I say give it a shot, if you’re lucky enough to get no crashes.

  8. Hec

    Current and latest version of Map Tap doesn’t install and runs this mod. I downloaded it via Map Tap and says “saj1” it is not found on server.
    Then I saved it to my HDD and installed via Map Tap and it didn’t work neither.

  9. Hec
    Play It Now!

    This mod was merely HL1 combat action, you know, some xenians to shoot and many grunts blocking your way so you have to get rid of them.

    But apart from that, there’s really nothing to get really amused, so why I give it a PN? Well I guess is just because this is simply the first HL1 mod I played since many months ago. I just liked the battles in there.

    The mapping is quite OK, not really focused in the details or design, and I also think the transitions between maps are weird, and I also have the strange bug in the “saj1”-“saj2” maps transition, but it was corrected once I eliminate the graph files that came along with this mod.

    Some indoor areas felt quite blocky, and those apache helicopters were extremely easy to shoot down. Also I think the written word on my screen were in Czech so if this mappack has a story or plot I didn’t understand a bit of it, but it really doesn’t matters, as is another “escape from BM” mod.

    I think that’s all, but I’d like to end this recommendation with a peculiar reflection:

    I really don’t understand why this mappack even being so buggy got higher recommendations than the “Rabbit Hole” HL2 mod, I understand both are different mods, and maybe that’s because when we play a source engine mod, we tend to demand more quality form them, but this mod even with the quite many glitches it has, owns more PN than the HL2 mod I mentioned. So yeah that’s weird, and maybe is also because people are more used to classic combat in HL than darker horror twists on them.

  10. Unq
    Play It Later

    First, for those having problems in the map changes, here’s the solution. Rename all map files (.bsp) to be all lower case. It’s been a problem in Half-Life since forever that capital letters in the map names can screw things up. I’m only sorry I played this well after everyone else did. I started this pack and got stuck in the void on both of the first 2 map changes, even unable to noclip back into the map, but this fixed the issue for me and I had no problems once I renamed the maps.

    In general this map pack was enjoyable, even though it has a lot of rough edges. It takes place in Black Mesa, and the maps do a passable job depicting BMRF areas, inside and out. As has been mentioned above there are some really questionable texture choices, and there’s just not that much detail. Many of the areas are blocky, even by 2002 standards.

    The combat is pretty good, although there are way too many headcrabs, also mentioned above. (And this is coming from someone who released a map with only headcrabs a while back). In fact, this is an example of the larger criticism I level at this map pack: it just does the expected. Yes, there are some minor puzzles mixed in with the combat. Yes, you get a wide variety of weapons and you encounter a wide variety of enemies. But everything feels by-the-book. There really isn’t anything to keep you off balance here or surprise you much (beyond a couple collapsing catwalks – did anyone see that one coming?!).

    There’s a headcrab in every vent. You get an RPG and rockets and a second later you hear an Apache helicopter. It’s expected.

    Despite what I just said, there’s still fun to be had here. It’s worth playing if you like Black Mesa – just don’t have high expectations.

  11. Sue Boyle

    I really do enjoy this map however it feels so much like playing the original HL. There are a few more recent monsters such as the Bull(? – senior moment) and the Hound Eyes and, as mentioned before, way too many Head Crabs. But for having been done in 2002, I’m very awed. Thanks for all the hard work!

  12. Play It Now!

    I know I played this map pack because they were already installed when I went to dl it – but I don’t know why I didn’t review it at the time.

    I think the only reason I haven’t given this one a Personal Favorite is that there were some issues with specific-needs jumps and one elevator that kept killing me, and I know I had some amount of difficulty with transitions when I played it the first time.

    Those things said though… wow. Just an amazing piece of work, and to know that they were made so long ago – amazing!

    It was definitely a romp through *similar* but not exactly the same maps. It had a very good Half Life feel, the level transition hallways were done well, and while the overall set of maps were pretty predictable each portion of fighting or movement through the areas was satisfying to say the least. Learning when you should just not fight – that was important at least once or twice.

    There were so many headcrabs. I was commenting to my housemate, “I think the native habitat of the headcrab is air vents”. (and then read Unq’s comment to that effect now haha)

    I ran out of one or another kind of ammunition, and never used many of the weapons. I suppose I could have used a variety of heavy-duty weapons on the grunts, or whatever? Didn’t really need to. I was at full health when the mod ended, even though I spent a good portion of it running for my life.

    Good choices for snippets of dialog, but I do wish that at some point there was an English version of the on-screen information. There was never a time I felt like I didn’t understand what to do though, I would just like to know what the chapter/level titles were!

    So much ‘play it now’, if it was a little more balanced for fighting, and perhaps had a little more plot, it would be a very worthy-named Personal Favorite. I’d definitely replay this. (I did replay it hehe.)

  13. Play It Now!

    An enjoyable hour of Half Life feel from Hungary!

    Some nice puzzles, some fighting, not too challenging, but also not too easy, and all goes together very well. Also I feel that this mod has exactly the right length.

    A million thanks to Unq for pointing to renaming the map files to be all lower case! I did this and did not have any problems with map transitions.

    I agree with him that everything feels a little by-the-book, so I was torn between PIL and PIN, but considering that this is the author’s first work and that gameplay is just fun and never gets boring, I went with PIN.

    I absolutely love it, when people come here and comment on the mods they created ten or 15 years ago, like Tibor did. It’s always interesting to read about a mod’s history, its maker, his other work and whether he’s still modding!

  14. Play It Now!

    Now this has been a fairly enjoyable experience. I knew this mod from youtube.com. Seen the author play his mod prior to release couple years back. I can’t believe that I missed the release here.

    The mod itself is very straight forward and you barely can get stuck the way is usually clear. As for the mod itself it’s consisting of plain combat – few jumping sequences and button riddles. The mapping itself is also fairly decent while not top of the line it’s well enough designed so that you will never get bored.

    With over 1 hour playtime this map pack is actually rather large and even makes usage of various npc script sequences which rounds the whole experience up. It’s also very well balanced. There is always enough ammo and plenty of med packs, hev batteries to find.

    It’s hard to believe that this map series is from 2014 as it feels more like earlier mods & map packs released back in good old 1999 but that’s certainly very refreshing and it does what Half-Life did best. Providing some neat looking maps mixed with nice varied combat and few minor labyrinth like riddles.

    Go for it.

  15. Master74

    How come I missed this wonderful mappack all this time?

    I just played it and I must say it was a quite satisfactory experience, one of the best mappacks I’ve played (it is definitely above average).

    This is 100% Half-Life style and also a keeper!

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