May 26, 2018
As you may have seen in my Top 10 First Person Shooter list, CounterStrike Source is one of my all-time favorite shooters. I chose Source specifically, instead of the original or Global Offensive-mostly because it was the first version I played and I spent a lot of time on it. However, unlike serious CounterStrike people, I don't have strong opinions on which version of the game really is "best", so my review is for the series in general. There are two parts of Source that I really liked though.
- Physics affecting everything
- Lack of matchmaking helped me find some great servers
1. Physics affecting everything
Even though Global Offensive is the latest-and-greatest version, it lacks the realistic physics of Source. I remember being blown away by how real everything seemed in Source. I walked around cs_office just shooting stuff to see what would happen. Shooting the individual keys off keyboards was cool, and I couldn't believe that the PC towers in the game actually had components that could be shot out! Global-Offensive does have some of this stuff, but not nearly as much. It was so satisfying seeing everything in a room go flying after an explosion!
2. Lack of matchmaking
The lack of matchmaking in Source was kind of a drawback, especially for a noob who didn't know whether a server with high ping or low ping was good. There was no instruction manual. But I found some great servers to play on. Of course, some were classic CounterStrike, but others were themed maps from The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, or anything! There were also some fun custom game modes, I usually liked anything zombie-themed. My brother got really into the prison-break servers (I hated those), and it was cool how much variety there was. One of my favorite custom servers was a zombie escape server, where all the non-zombies were spartans from Halo, trying to escape the zombies AND get out of the Titanic, which was slowly filling up with water, all while some Celine-Dion techno remix played in the background.
Laser Tag (Deathmatch) vs Paintball (CounterStrike)
I don't really know why I was drawn to CounterStrike in the first place. My first time playing was at a friend's house after junior high and I had no idea what I was doing. I just got killed over and over because I was used to Goldeneye and Medal of Honor--more forgiving shooters. I think my tastes in games started changing as a teenager. As a kid, the best birthday party I went to was a Laser Tag party. We went to Idaho Falls, which had a super cool laser-tag arena. It was a dark maze, with blacklight paint on the walls, perfect for an afternoon of blasting friends with laser guns. It was so awesome, and in my mind it was the ultimate real-life videogame. Nothing could top it. Until a few years later, that same friend had a Paintball birthday party. For that party, I wasn't excited, I was terrified. "Why would anyone willingly go into an arena to get shot with a paintball gun?". But not wanting to chicken-out, I went. It turned out to be EVEN BETTER than laser tag. It was the most fun I had ever had. Running around, hiding behind real objects so you wouldn't get hit as paintballs whizzed past, it was such an adrenaline rush. CounterStrike has that paintball feel, where you don't want to just run in guns-blazing. You want to carefully shoot the bad guys, while staying alive to complete the objective. Goldeneye and the other games at the time were great too, but they had that laser tag vibe, where you just want to blast everyone. Both are fun, but that distinction made CounterStrike special.
CounterStrike's maps have always been my favorite in FPS games. They all seem so real. Cs_Office really seems like it could be an actual office. It isn't empty either, it is like the developers moved a real office on a snowy day into the game. The others are like that too, Dust and Dust2 feel so real and climbing through the vents in CS_Assault seems like something a real SWAT guy would do. The attention to detail is what makes them great.
Even though the maps are realistic and the gameplay requires some careful tactics, the game is quick enough to be fun and isn't too realistic. There isn't any inventory management to worry about, you can't go prone, and you can't blast through walls. In my opinion, that would be too much to worry about. Instead, the game is simple, which makes it easy to pick up. If you prefer realism, there are other great games, I think the recent Rainbow Six Siege is like a CounterStrike with way more going on. But CounterStrike is great the way it is.
Perfect for a LAN Party
CounterStrike has always been an awesome LAN game. I've always loved console shooters too (and I wish local multiplayer was still popular), but it is so nice having your own screen to play CounterStrike on. You just grab your friends, grab your laptops, take over a dorm study-room, and start playing. No one can look at your screen to cheat, and there are no distractions. My personal favorite has always been trying to survive with friends against a horde of bots. It is a great game for college where almost everyone has their own computer.
Overall, I think CounterStrike is a great game. It is still one of our go-to LAN games, even though the gameplay is the same as it was twenty years ago. I feel like a CounterStrike hipster, since I liked it before it got really popular, but I'm glad other people are enjoying the game. Hopefully some great battles are still going on in college dorms across the world.