Counter Strike: Source
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Counter Strike: Source (CSS) is a complete overhaul of the popular Counter Strike 1.6 using Valve’s Source engine. The remake began as demonstration from Valve of how easy it will be to move modifications of Half-Life into the new rendering engine, resulting in a highly successful update to the most popular online action title of all time.
CSS continues the basic premise of its Half-Life-based predecessor, pitting a team of terrorists against counter-terrorists in a series of rounds. The winning team is the first to either complete their objective (e.g. plant or detonate the bomb, keep or rescue the hostage ) or eliminate every single member of the opposing side. It’s a simple premise that has proven to be years upon years of unrelenting fun for long-time players and quite the frustration for a newcomer to the game.
Lacking sufficient AI-controlled opponents to allow new entrants to shoot and battle their way into competence, there is again no way to train yourself up to speed sufficiently if you’re a newbie. You’ll have to fight your way into getting a handle on CSS – being killed off game after game by more experienced opponents.
Without a hack, that is. One of the most useful Counter Strike Source hacks released allows players to enjoy the game and pick up the fundamentals with the bots enabled – even though they’re not as smart as you’d probably prefer them to be.
CSS inherits the look and feel of Half-Life 2 while retaining the same action and game play that made its predecessor one of the best-loved team-based shooters in PC history. There were very few updates to the game play on the new version that it’s probably one of the most unambitious titles ever released – not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. Why reinvent a winner, after all?
What Valve did is to update the popular first-person shooter to look like a modern game, instead of the old classic that it is. To accomplish this, they overhauled the original game’s maps including the Aztec, Office, Cobble and several more. A total of 17 maps have currently been released by Valve. There were little changes in terms of map layouts save for a few new routes and camping spots here and there – nothing that can prove critical to mission objectives or alter its dynamics prominently. Obviously, allowing the game to flow essentially the same way was an important consideration during the Source update.
The environment is much more realistic with lots of depth and plenty of details. Textures have been reworked with plenty of nuances, from light reflections to airborne particles to life-like water effects. The Office map, for instance, looks like a real work environment with dozens upon dozens of business machines and motivational office signs. The environment’s reaction to the ongoing battles are also more detailed, believable and joyously destructible – from softly-breaking glass windows to a mess of exploding fruits lined across market stalls.
Allowing more realism into the gameplay, some aspects have been redefined to provide for smarter combat. For instance, players can no longer penetrate thick walls with bullets to kill opponents on the other side. A knife stab will no longer break a glass completely – you’ll need to jump through cracked windows to break them open. Grenades exploding from the other side of the wall will no longer hurt you seriously, as it did in the original game. Giving in to the always unquenchable thirst for a little more gore, death scenes are also much more detailed.
Physics has also been updated on Half-Life 2 and it comes reflected on the CSS upgrade. Collisions are very accurate and flying objects hurled through the air by massive explosions behave in a very convincing manner. While they don’t deliver much added value to the game play, the extra spectacle is definitely a welcome sight.
In terms of actually shooting your opponents to their death, a few updates may or may not have an effect on the way you play. The gun recoil is noticeably different – possibly requiring a small adjustment. The flash bang is now more effective and can prove to be advantageous to employ as it is now fitted with a real blinding effect, rendering your screen all white before slowly returning back into focus.
Strength In Numbers
With its large fanbase, there’s a good variety of CSS hacks, add-ons and customizations. In fact, the wealth of possible updates is probably one of the most exciting aspects of the game. Most every superficial aspect can be altered – player appearance, sounds, weapon skins and textures. Objects within maps are not open for alterations though, to keep the game fair for every participant.
Valve’s Source SDK also allows heavy modding in the form of plug-ins, with plenty of takers from the CSS developer community. New sound packs, weapons packs and game modes can be enjoyed by downloading the plug-ins into your game servers. Numerous hacks that can enhance your enjoyment of CSS while edging out opponents can easily be had from online sources, including various aimbots, full 3D maps, autoshooters, health ESP, zoom abilities and more.
Same Game Except It Looks So Good
CSS received plenty of favorable feedback and wide adoption from the gaming community since its release by Valve as part of the $80 Half-Life 2 package. While certain quirks remain – occasional glitches that can leave you dead before you even know it – it is a good-looking game that plays every bit as good as the original CS.
It is fast-paced, tactical, action-packed and highly customizable. It’s one of the few games that can literally make you laugh (when your opponents accidentally drops a grenade on himself, for instance), scream (when surprised by a wily competitor) and cry (I haven’t but I’ve seen some kids do). What more can you ask of an FPS that’s essentially free?
There’s no doubt that Counter Strike: Source will remain as one the most relevant online action games even years going forward.