Most people familiar with the online FPS world, or even online gaming in general have probably heard of CS 1.6, or at least the Counter-Strike franchise, and today, we’re going to be taking a look back at the game that started it all, and began the most successful mod franchise of all time.
Counter-Strike (AKA Counter-Strike 1.6 and Half Life: Counter-Strike) is an online, first-person shooter, developed by Valve Corporation, which has become the most popular online team-shooter of all time. Originally released as a mod for Valve’s 1998 game Half-Life by Minh Le and Jess Cliffe in 1999, and was then acquired by Valve, with Le and Cliffe also being hired to work on the game for a real retail release for Microsoft Windows on November 9th, 2000. The game spawned a massive franchise, being ported and given sequels such as Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and Counter-Strike: Source in the following years, making Counter-Strike the most successful mod franchise in history, as well as a staple of the E-sports scene.
The gameplay features 3 main modes which feature their own maps, Bomb Defusal (de), Hostage Rescue (cs) and Assassination (as). These modes are very self-explanatory: “Bomb defusal: The terrorists must carry a bomb, plant it on one of the designated spots and protect it from being disarmed by the counter-terrorists before it explodes to win. The counter-terrorists win if the time runs out with no conclusion. Hostage rescue: The counter-terrorists must rescue a group of hostages held by the terrorists to win. The terrorists win if the time runs out with no conclusion. Assassination: One of the counter-terrorists is chosen to act as a VIP and the team must escort this player to a designated spot on the map to win the game. The terrorists win if the VIP is killed or if the time runs out with no conclusion.” – Wikipedia, 2014
Now I won’t explain anymore of the gameplay, because that would take me a long time to do, however, I can talk about what makes it special. Counter-Strike, not just 1.6 but as a whole franchise, is very different to other online shooters, it’s probably one of the most, if not the most mechanically intensive online shooter there is. You’ve always got to think about your positioning, how you move, etc. your accuracy can easily be thrown-off completely by running at an enemy or jumping to dodge shots, it’s all about being slow, careful, and waiting for the right time to attack, as reactions play a very big part in Counter-Strike. Now this slow-paced, mechanically intensive style of play isn’t for everyone of course, and even when I played on FACEIT for the first time recently, I realised how difficult being good at Counter-Strike is, but having a game like that in FPS world, not reliant on abilities or special moves, just pure mechanical skills, reactions and teamwork, is something refreshing, and it’s really what has made the whole franchise of Counter-Strike so successful, and what makes it a unique, fun game that is definitely one of the best of all time.
As well as this, it’s become a very iconic game because of how it’s played, because of it’s unique theme, the weapons used, the emphasis on teamwork, and even the more negative aspects of the game, such as the bugs in GoldSrc engine that allowed insane “bunny-hopping” around the map, have still become iconic and synonymous with Counter-Strike, and helped to cement it as a staple of online FPS, as well as help make it into a super-successful E-sports title, which has definitely increased the game’s lifespan.
CS 1.6 is definitely a must have for any online FPS fan, and since it’s still available cheap on Steam, I recommend you dig up this old treasure and take a nostalgia trip that will make for one of your favourite gaming experiences.