Review by UnknownMercenary
"The greatest LAN gaming experience you can ever have"
Where to begin? Counter Strike is the legendary action-realism game of our generation, second only to Action Quake 2. CS, starting off as a small mod, became an FPS powerhouse, and is arguably the most popular and most played online shooter in the world.
Even after six years, the Half Life engine shines with glory. While the models, environments, and in general the engine can't compare to the graphics powerhouses of UT and Doom 3, the game still looks great and runs very smoothly. A big plus is the fact that, since the engine is so old, just about anyone can run this game with little to no hiccups.
In any shooter you will only get about three or four different types of sounds: gunshots, explosions, and maybe some speech. The gun sounds, while not very authentic or too convincing, at least make a loud boom. Most of them are quite well done, although some of the guns are weak audio-wise. The explosions are nothing unusual. A big boom, along with the appropriate explosion animation. Lastly are the radio voices. There are a wide variety of them, but the voices are the same for both teams.
The core gameplay of Counter Strike will be a hit or miss for most FPS fans. It's not wildly realistic like Rainbow Six and America's Army, but it's nowhere in the fantasy realm of Quake and Doom. What makes CS so appealing is its blend of tactical realism and run and gun gameplay.
The pacing of CS is a lot slower than Quake. There are no double jumps, no Quad Damage and no big and spammable weapons like a rocket launcher. Most of your playing time will be spent camping in one spot, or navigating a map quietly in order to get the advantage on the enemy. This is because of CS's more realistic structure. You can only take one or two gunshots before you die, and when you're hit you're stunned, thus limiting your movement. There's armour available to you, but it only protects against ligther weapons; against rifles and the like, armour isn't as effective. The real kicker is that CS's gameplay is round based. You have one life in the round. If you die before the round ends, then you get to spectate until the next round begins.
Probably the most interesting feature of CS is the buy system. While it's nothing too special now, it was quite amazing back in the day. The basic premise is that you don't pick up weapons. You buy them. The game has it's own economy. A player starts off with a bit of cash. That cash can be used to buy weapons and equipment. Killing enemies, or completing map objectives will give you more money. More money means you can buy bigger and better weapons. The problem with the buy system, however, is that the better team ALWAYS dominates. ALWAYS. It's nearly impossible to fight back.
A shooter just wouldn't be a shooter without weapons, and boy does Counter Strike have a lot of weapons. There are 30-odd weapons in this game, and they are all based on real life counterparts. Another nitpick though is that so many of them are useless. The cheap ones are ridiculously ineffective, and the expensive ones have been watered down so much that they're not even worth their price. Let me provide a few examples. The wide array of pistols will be the first one. Most people don't bother buying another pistol, simply because the starting pistols are already quite effective. If they do buy another pistol, it will be a Desert Eagle, simply because it does a lot of damage. Other than hard core CS players or newbies, no one will be buying an FN Five-SeveN or the Dual Beretta Elites. The same thing goes with every other weapon group too. No one buys any sub machinegun other than the MP5. Why? Simply because it's cheap, it's accurate, and does a good amount of damage. There wouldn't even be a need to buy any other SMG unless you couldn't afford an MP5. Few people buy any other weapons than the M4, AK, MP5, and the Desert Eagle. The most glaring weapon imbalance though, is the Arctic Warfare Magnum rifle. It is the only weapon that can achieve an instant kill, and is a source of ire for many players, veterans and newbies alike. It could definitely use some toning down.
Lastly is the game types. The game essentially revolves around Counter Terrorists and Terrorists facing off, and the game types would also be similar. There are three main game types. De_ or defusal, As_ or VIP escort, and Cs_ or Hostage rescue. Earlier versions of CS featured Es_ or escape maps, but these are no longer supported. CS also comes with custom Fy_ maps, which are small deathmatch styled maps. The game types are fun, but they are no longer orignal.
CS has lots of lasting appeal though. With so many maps, and so many weapons to try, you won't get bored to easily. CS isn't exactly newbie friendly, but it is fun. There are literally thousands of servers and even more players, so it won't be difficult to find a game.
Admittedly, the gameplay isn't as great as everyone makes it out to be. CS is definitely getting long in the tooth. So why the high score? It's because it makes such a wonderful party game. There's nothing quite like the thrill of hooking up a LAN game with a couple of buddies and fragging away on De_Dust2. CS is an acquired taste and only for hardcore FPS fans. Play a few games before you stick with it.
Overall: 9/10 (not an average)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/22/05
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