Counter-Strike is one of the most rewarding and gratifying tactical first-person shooters ever made.
If you think about it, the original Counter-Strike has remained popular ever since it was released as a Half-Life modification in 1999. A lot has changed since then in the world of video games and over the years, the Counter-Strike franchise has been updated, remade, ported and the first-person shooter has even received a single-player spin-off. Yet the original Counter-Strike is still played by thousands of people on a daily basis. This is a testament to its entertaining premise, solid gameplay and committed community that has kept the game fresh for decades. Not only does this make Counter-Strike one of the best first-person shooters of all time, but also one of the best games of all time.
This is what you need to know in terms of gameplay: in the tactical first-person shooter, you assume the role of a terrorist or a counter-terrorist. Not only does this determine your look, but also the role you’ll perform during matches. The primary objective is to eliminate all the members of the opposing team, but there are also secondary objectives, depending on the map you choose. In bomb maps, terrorists need to place a bomb and defend it from the counter-terrorists who have the ability to defuse it, in hostage maps, counter-terrorists need to rescue a group of hostages before time runs out and in VIP maps, counter-terrorists need to escort VIPs to precise locations. If any of those secondary is completed before the round is over, you win the match.
As soon as the round starts, you can purchase firearms (pistols, shotguns, machine guns and so on) and special equipment (explosive, flash or smoke grenades, helmet, defuse kit, kevlar and so on.) Surviving the round means that you’ll be able to keep that equipment, but if you die, you’ll need to buy the equipment again. Killing enemies, rescuing hostages, planting or defusing the C4 and winning rounds gives you monetary compensation.
As you can see, the rules are simple to understand, but Counter-Strike must be one of the most inaccessible and intimidating titles I’ve ever played. Since the game has been around for so long, the community isn’t friendly to newcomers, so expect a lot of unkind words from people who grew up playing Counter-Strike. If you want to learn how to play, I’d recommend installing bots, playing with friends with a similar skill level or moving on to newer entries in the series. If, on the other hand, you try to play on random servers, chances are you’ll die over and over, something that’s aggravated by the long rounds and lack of instant re-spawns. But since the stakes are so high, the game offers a type of excitement that not many games have. While in most shooters dying means re-spawning automatically, Counter-Strike is much more punishing than that. Should you die (and you will) not only will you lose all your equipment, but you’ll spectate the rest of the round and you won’t be able to join the game until that round is over.
On top of that, experienced players are used to specific expressions to refer to modes, parts of the maps, weapons and there are many elements that are supposed to be common knowledge to everyone playing. But it doesn’t end there. If your performance isn’t up to par, you’ll be kicked, if you make constant mistakes, you’ll be kicked, if you accidentally kill someone from your team, you’ll be kicked and so on. Also, I hope you like “Dust” because you’ll see that map a lot.
Originally, Counter-Strike came out as a modification for Half-Life and this version lives up to its spirit, especially in terms of customization. If, for whatever reason, you think the game doesn’t have enough content, you can install new maps, models, modes, weapons and so on. The modding community has created new content for years and whatever you can think of, I assure you modders have thought of it first. Manually installing content isn’t that simple though, unless you’re trying to access that content from a server that is, in which case the game will download and set up everything for you.
Visually, the game isn’t very attractive by today’s standards, but if you’re playing Counter-Strike in this day and age, chances are you aren’t playing it for its visual prowess. You come to Counter-Strike to coordinate attacks with friends, learn strategies and to eliminate the opposing team as fast and effectively as you can. Still, it’s worth mentioning that the Steam version of the game comes with improved visuals and new models for the different characters.
To enjoy Counter-Strike you need a group of friends with a similar skill level, a lot of free time and patience. These requirements seem awfully specific, but Counter-Strike isn’t for everybody. If the game seems too draconian for you, I’d recommend moving on to newer entries in the series like Counter-Strike: Source or Global Offensive. If you decide to stay with this version though, I can assure you you’ll be playing one of the most rewarding and gratifying tactical first-person shooters ever made and in its purest form.