Legacy of Counter-Strike
| by Nachiket Mhatre
Ask anyone born on the fun side of the '90s about their childhood gaming memories, and the majority will gush about playing Mario on a cheap 8-bit Chinese NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) knock-off as a kid. Probe them about their adolescence, and the answer will unanimously be Counter-Strike. The first-person tactical shooter started life originally in 1999 as a Half-Life mod developed by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe, who also voiced the radio commands and chatter. The mod was quite unlike its peers thanks to its superiority in terms of scope, polish, and dedication.
It may have started as a hobby-project for the modder duo, but the grad students eventually ended up spending more time developing the mod than on their academics. The results were evident with a near-complete overhaul of the Tactical Shooter elements such as squad play, recoil and ballistic details, movement penalties, deeper weapon segregation, and a revamped hit-detection system.
A bastard child of Half Life and Tactical Shooters
Not surprisingly, Counter-Strike concept came shortly after the resurgence of the Tactical First Person Shooter (FPS) genre pioneered by games such as Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and NovaLogic's Delta Force. However, this humble mod developed by two university kids went on to garner more attention than the veritable grand daddies of the genre. In fact, its unprecedented popularity caught the notice of Valve Software itself, which was involved in the development of subsequent beta releases, and eventually bought the rights to monetise the mod with a retail version. By the time the most popular downloadable version 1.6 debuted along with Valve's Steam online game distribution service, the game had caught the imagination of every acne-ridden teen and Tactical FPS veteran alike.
The mod that spawned legions of cyber-athletes
From a game to a sport
The million dollar question, however, is how did this Tactical Shooter-inspired mod manage to surpass the very games that it emulated? That too without the presence of a single player campaign or AI controlled bots? A part of the answer can be found in the same element that makes Facebook what it is — community. Counter-Strike revitalised the concept of LAN parties like no other game after Id Software's Doom and Quake could have emulated. Co-op and multiplayer are to gaming what Ajinomoto is to Chinese food; they just make everything a lot more enjoyable. Letting a group of friends play a modern version of Chor Police, with automatic weapons and a sophisticated hit detection system, after all, is the perfect recipe for fun.
The next step: Global Offensive
After over 25 million copies sold collectively by Counter-Strike 1.6 and Condition Zero (along with side-games such as Counter-Strike: Neo and Online), Valve will be launching Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on 21 August this year. After bringing joy to hardcore PC gamers, the upcoming version endeavours to bring the same frenetic multiplayer action to consoles, replete with a few new game modes.
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