Counter-Strike: Source (CSS) is a remake of the original Counter-Strike in, as you probably guessed, the Source engine. In case you’ve managed to make it into the modern world without learning of CSS I’ll give a quick explanation; it’s a tactical FPS in which two teams, the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists, face off, the round ending by either completing an objective (often planting a bomb for the Terrorists and defusing the bomb for the Counter-Terrorists) or eliminating the opposing team. Unless you’re playing a straight deathmatch, you won’t respawn when you die, instead waiting for the next round.[drop]It’s easiest to point you towards Socom’s multiplayer and say ‘a bit like that, but faster’. With an emphasis on the ‘faster’. The game is as fast-paced as an FPS gets, arguably more so even than the CoD games, with your 100 health points disappearing rapidly when you’re hit. This can lead to dying without even knowing there was anyone around to gun you down, but it also leads to the reverse – it’s immensely satisfying to get a kill in CSS, especially at first.
The weapons are well modelled and sound great and, as it’s a Valve game on the Source engine, the physics can often result in your victim slamming into walls or falling over railings and off of roofs, which never ceases to entertain. I’m often completely fine with getting killed because I’ve tipped over a railing in that strangely fascinating manner.
Being ok with dying will definitely help you out when you’re trying to get into the game, as it will soon become your most familiar activity. Counter-Strike first originated as a Half-Life mod and released in June of 1999, so as you can imagine, there are people out there who can walk into rooms, brutally murder everyone inside, and walk back out whilst still in the midst of a sip of tea. I was particularly amazed that I wasn’t frustrated by the constant dying, but I managed to rack up a total of 70-odd kills in my first team deathmatch.
Admittedly it was over an hour or so and accompanied by over 200 deaths, but I never felt like it was unfair. I even had a few killstreaks (not that they’re rewarded in the game, this was pre-Modern Warfare after all), though then again there were periods of time in which I just died and died like Jack Harkness in front of a machine gun. I was having fun at the time though, so I was fine with it.
Remarkably, it didn’t take too long before I was actually playing rather well – or at least well compared to how I started playing. As mentioned, I was playing deathmatch, and it was on a server that gave you the option to spawn with random weaponry every time you respawned. This allowed me to get proficient with the game rather quickly until I was jumping off of buildings whilst shooting people in the face, beating players in 1v1 encounters and even clearing rooms of 2/3 enemies on occasion. My kills still don’t outmatch my deaths, though.[drop2]When I finally jumped into an objective game I was considerably more effective thanks to my fling with deathmatch – I’d tried all the guns so I knew what I was preferred, I knew what I could and couldn’t jump over, how to dodge gunfire effectively, so I would recommend starting the game with some deathmatch before trying to objective-based games.
You earn money for kills and defusing/planting the bomb which you must use to buy your own weapons at the beginning of the round. There are a lot of weapons on offer here, from sniper rifles to shotguns, machine guns to SMGs, plus equipment such as armour and grenades of various flavours. It’s customisation with commitment, if you try a loadout and don’t like it you can just buy different weaponry in the next round. If you don’t die you’ll keep your guns for the next round and get a cash bonus. It works rather well if you can find a server that still uses it properly, as the servers I play in gave enough money to buy whatever weaponry you needed every round.
CSS is great fun and that’s what I look for in CPCG. There have been numerous times when I’ve jumped over a railing and shot people on the way down, landing on my feet and taken somebody else out – it feels, for lack of a better word, badass and, more importantly, engaging. It soon had me moving my head moving to try and look around corners against all logical reasoning, jumping everytime someone appeared around a corner in front of me when I didn’t expect it and, perhaps most important of all, smiling like an idiot. It handles really well, it has exceptionally low system requirements (it runs perfectly at full resolution on my i5 laptop with integrated graphics) and can entertain me for hours, so it’ll probably send a strike team out for your heart too.
You can get CSS for £13.99 from Steam on both Windows and OSX or, if you’re willing to wait an unpredictable amount of time, considerably less in a Steam sale.
PC System Requirements
- 1.7 GHz Processor.
- 512MB RAM.
- DirectX® 8.1 level Graphics Card (Requires support for SSE).
- Windows® 7 (32/64-bit)/Vista/XP.
- Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection.
Mac System Requirements
- OSX version; Leopard 10.5.8/Snow Leopard 10.6.3.
- 1GB RAM.
- NVIDIA GeForce 8 or higher, ATI X1600 or higher, or Intel HD 3000 or higher.
- Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection.