It Didn't take long. By our estimates, the beta code for Counter-Strike: Source had been released for three days before someone discovered a way to cheat. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The release of an early glimpse of the future of Counter-Strike was met with rabid excitement from most quarters (except Hastings, see Cafe Culture, right), not least at ZONE where games of the seminal terrorist/counter-terrorist shooter played almost as formative a part of our gaming history as Quake.
Go, Go, Go
In order to test the waters, Valve sent out the updated version of the legendary Dust map to invited beta testers and selected cyber cafes around the world. First impressions were impressive, with the old magic flowing back like nostalgic waves in a choppy sea of rose-tinted history.
Not much appears to have changed. The map layout is the same and the weapon loadouts identical (although a handy 'auto-buy' feature and the option to repeat your last shopping spree are welcome additions). Indeed, apart from the ability to knock over barrels, send tyres rolling down slopes and vastly improved ragdoll physics hinting at the shape of Half-Lives to come, it's pretty much the same old Counter-Strike that you probably know and love.
Naturally, everyone has their own take and opinions differ wildly. Token office northerner, Jamie Sefton, has been wandering around the building for the better part of two weeks now, proclaiming to anyone within earshot that "t'physics add a whole new dimension to t'game. Tweapons now have a far meatier feel to them and it all feels reet more refined and balanced. Eee, I tells yer, Valve 'as done a reet grand job on this 'un." Which I think means he likes it.
Others aren't so sure. Young Will has been scampering about the place, getting underfoot and whinnying that nothing's changed. "It's all in his mind," he claims of Jamie's deliberations. "It's exactly the same as before but with bouncier barrels. Cup of tea anyone? Need anything from the shop?" He's a good boy really.
Oddly, they're probably both right. For a lot of players, a beefier-sounding weapon discharge and a few ragdoll physics is all it will take to breathe a new lease of life into a game, enough to recharge previously flagging batteries and rekindle a dying fire.
The problem for most of today's gamers is that if that's all that changes, then it won't take long for Counter-Strike veterans to hop over to the upgrade and make the game as unfriendly for the casual gamer as the existing Counter-Strike is today - and that would be a shame. But without some serious upgrades to the gameplay mechanics, the whole thing becomes just a technical exercise. Indeed, the discovery of an errant window ledge providing a way to jump on top of the map and see everything at once, simply highlights that the core problem of the way C-S is at the moment has yet to be addressed in any meaningful way. While it's a safe bet that Valve will remove such exploits from the final release, the mere fact that players will happily cheat away and not feel any remorse for ruining every match simply shows how badly things need changing.
Well Done All
But then nowhere has Valve claimed that C-S: Source was supposed to change anything. All along this has been touted as classic Counter-Strike with a new engine. So maybe wanting it to be anything else is missing the point. This is Valve's reward to the current C-S community for sticking with the game all these years, for taking it to unfathomable heights of popularity and for using it to lead the way in professional gaming's march towards mass acceptance. From that perspective, who's to begrudge them a few bouncing barrels?
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode