Review by FirstBlood

"The Greatest Online Experience Available, and it's FREE!"

Counter-Strike... the greatest online game of all time. Forget about Quake 3: Arena, and throw away that Unreal Tournament disc. Enter: Half-Life: Counter-Strike. Team-based online-gaming goodness.

take one serving Quake, add in a helping of Rogue Spear, and now you have Counter-Strike. CS takes all the things you love about good ol' First-Person-death-matching, and throws in various elements of realism, to produce an astoundingly fun package.

Counter-Strike is a Mod (modification) for the PC game Half-Life. It is a completely new game, that is free to download from counter-strike.net. Counter-Strike is set up into two teams, the Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists. On each map, one of the teams has a goal, and the other team tries to stop them from completing the goal. So the Terrorists has have Stop the Counter-Terrorists from saving the Hostages, or the Counter-Terrorists have to Diffuse a bomb planted by the Terrorists. This adds a lot to the game, giving you a goal other than ''KILL ALL OTHER TEAM NOW!'' although, killing everyone on the other team is also a way to win a round.

ah yes, the rounds. Each round has a set time limit, usually between three and seven minutes. In this time, you have to either complete the level goal (hostages/bomb) or kill the other team. Once you're dead, you're dead for the rest of the round, no respawning. This makes you think twice before you go running to the front kamikaze style. There's actually value to your life.

Counter-Strike also has a money system. At the start of every round, you have to either buy a new weapon, or use the existing weapon you used last round. Every time you kill an opposing player, you are rewarded 500 dollars, and when your team wins a round, you get around 2000 dollars more. So if you win, you get better weapons next round. A great system, that gives you even more of a reason to actually want to plant the bomb, or rescue the hostages, as opposed to just killing everything in site.

As said before, CS adds elements of Realism. This means that a headshot with a strong rifle = instant death, and headshot with weaker weapon = almost dead. it usually takes about 10-15 direct shots with Sub-Machine-Gun to kill, so that's not a whole lot, but not exactly true-to-life.

Never before has a game been so addicting. This is partially due to the variety in both weapons and maps. There are over twenty different weapons, like the H&K MP5, AK47, P90, UMP45, Desert Eagle, HE Grenades, Smoke Bombs, Five-Sevens, FN PARA, Styre Scout Sniper Rifle, G3 Semi-Auto Rifle, Colt m4a1 Carbine, and many others, all modeled to perfection. It actually feels like you are wielding a weapon of destruction in you hands.

Another great thing about Counter-Strike are the Maps. CS has, quite possibly, the greatest collection of maps I've ever seen. These maps range from a Sabotage Mission on a Skyscraper, Saving Hostages held captive in a 747, or Escorting a VIP out of an abandoned Oil Rig. All of the maps have various spots for Sniping, Hiding, Sneaking, and all other kinds of Tactics. You can start out by storming the front, taking the action head on, or you can sneak your way through the sewers and Flank the opposition. Every map has at least 2 different routes (usually more) to get to your goal. So if you fail to win every time while taking that long, dark tunnel route, next time, you can head to the courtyard, the river, or the office building. Endless Possibilities.

As for the Graphics, they are probably the weakest poitn of Counter-Strike, but that does not mean they are bad. CS is built around the Half-Life engine, which is now almost 3 years old, and still, CS looks surprisingly good. It's amazing what Gooseman and Valve have done with this Engine. The Textures on the walls, ground, and sky are all done very well. Also, CS uses completely original Models, and they look great. These models also have some awesome animations. The Counter-Terrorists don't simply run around with their rifle at their eye at all times, they run with it pointed to the ground, and when they go to shoot, then they raise it to their eye. Little things like this make the game interesting to watch.

In the Sound department, Counter-Strike excels. From the PANG of a flash-bang being thrown in your direction, to the monstrous BLAST of the Arctic Warfare Magnum Sniper Rifle (which you will come to fear), everything sounds like it's real life counter-part. You can hear the enemy's footsteps coming ever closer, you can sit back and wait to hear the opposition begin to reload their clips and catch them off guard. Every gun has a different Sound that is easily recognizable. As time goes along, you'll be able to figure out which weapon your opponent has, even if you can't see him.

The Controls are easily customizable, and work as you'd expect in a First Person Shooter. Set it up as you'd like, and you're good to go.

Now you're probably wondering why I didn't give CS a perfect score. Well there are Two reasons: the Community, and Cheating. The Counter-Strike community (meaning the people who play Counter-Strike on a regular basis) can be REAL jerks, but also can be very nice. So if you're new, don't expect the warmest welcome. But the community can also be a great thing. Once you get out of the ''newbie'' stage, and get some ''1337 sk1llz'', you will meet lots of great people (as I have), and one of my buddies even began to date a girl he met while playing Counter-Strike. Pretty nifty huh? Another down side to the community is that there are a whole lot of people out there who are excruciatingly good... which can get very annoying. You'll probably feel overwhelmed at first as the repeatedly kill you, but once you get the hang of the game, you'll have the time of your life.

Another big problem is Cheating, it has caused all kinds of problems in Counter-Strike. These Cheaters ruin the experience for others, and are just down right annoying. But this recent influx of cheaters has also caused lots of suspicion, so if you're doing really well, you're bound to get people who say ''hey, that guy's cheating!'' and they continue to cry about it. Now, occasionally, the people being accused actually are cheating, but the majority of the time, they are not. So, if you're a newbie, and you see someone who is really really good, please don't accuse them of cheating.

Now Onto the Scores:

Graphics: 8/10
very good, they get the job done... but this is no Quake 3: Arena, but still... Great Effort from the Counter-Strike Team to keep this game looking impressive

Sound: 10/10
awesome, very authentic, footsteps, gunshots, explosions, all very realistic

Gameplay: 10/10
perfect, addicting, and FUN FUN FUN, I've been playing for 2 years, and CS shows no sign of getting repetitive, a new gaming experience every time you play

Story: N/A
no story, what do you expect, it's an online game!

Replay Value: 10/10
as said before, I've been playing for 2 years, and have yet to get bored with it, now that's longevity

Which to Buy:
Out right now, there are two ways to get Counter-Strike, you can either just buy the Retail Version, or just Buy Half-Life, and download this mod. If you've only got a 56k connection, but still want to play Counter-Strike, I'd recommend buying the Retail version, so that you don't have to download the Hefty package, but if you've got Cable/DSL or anything faster, buying Half-Life and then downloading CS is the best idea, because if you do that, you'll get Half-Life (the best Single Player First Person Shooter) AND Counter-Strike (the best Online First Person Shooter)

To download, just point your browser to http://www.counter-strike.net

So... either way, BUY BUY BUY... you will NOT be disappointed.... and DO NOT CHEAT


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/13/01, Updated 07/13/01


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