While Quake has slightly floundered in installments and Unreal’s online popularity has gone up and down like a yo-yo, one game has consistently remained popular since it hit PCs. Counter-Strike captured the hearts and trigger fingers of millions of gamers around the world, spawning dozens of maps and clans in the process. The terrorist/counter-terrorist struggle was additionally supported with Valve’s online service, which provided a solid arena for gamers to get their frag on. In fact, the only complaint that some gamers could have is that Counter-Strike is starting to show its age. Enter Counter-Strike: Source, the graphically enhanced re-invisioning of the classic, brought to you by the upcoming Half-Life 2.
That’s right, expectant Freeman fans, you’re going to actually be getting two games in one when Half-Life 2 launches. By now, just about everyone knows that Counter-Strike was a mod of the original Half-Life title. What’s extremely cool is that CS: Source was designed with modders in mind. As the designers of Half-Life 2 programmed the sequel, they tried to figure out if the fans would have any difficulty transferring their hard coded work into the new title. To stress test the engine of the new game, they took the earliest build of Counterstrike and imported individual elements from each build up to the most current version, including Condition Zero. Fans should take heart though, because they only kept the good features from each. As a result, the entire Counter-Strike experience is more enjoyable.
As a somewhat “open” beta, owners of Condition Zero and cyber cafes are able to experience what the full version will be like before the rest of the world. The action of the beta takes place on the completely remade map of De_Dust, although players may detect an occasional closed server running Aztec or another map. (As far as I could tell, those were either specific cafes or developer matches, but extra maps out there may signal how easy it is to build levels in with the new engine). Vets of the map will notice that the layout remains the same, but the physics and graphical touches make Dust feel like a completely new mod. Ricochets look and feel more violent thanks to the raking spray of dirt and particulates. Grenades are seemingly more powerful than previous versions; typically, body armor or even relative distance to a detonation would bleed off a level of damage, but Source grenades feel stronger. The physics of items in the world are also impressive, as players have discovered ways of using explosives to launch barrels and other objects at players as feints before full assaults on positions. That’s right, you can’t hide behind some objects anymore, because they’re subjected to possible destruction or use as a secondary weapon.
Assuming that there are no future hack attacks, natural disasters or space invasions to delay the undisclosed launch date sometime this year, CS: Source will be the next evolution of multiplayer fragging. Players may want to take the down time to beef up your system specs if necessary, since the minimum system requirements appear to be a 1.2 gigahertz processor with 256 megabytes of RAM and a DirectX 7 video card. We’ll be keeping our eyes open for any potential Counter-Strike and Half-Life 2 news, so keep checking back for any info on one of the most anticipated games of all time!
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