There might well be a million of these, tiptoeing along the seabed of the internet, washed up like most digital debris over the course of years and years. But I come to you with my mawkish Counter-Strike story today, behind the patronising veil of ‘current affairs’. Because Valve have just released Counter-Strike: GO for FREE.
Free Counter-Strike GO is Free!
Well, ish. In this FREE version, accessible from the game’s Steam page, you are limited to playing offline with bots; although ‘limited’ in this instance, is purely a matter of perspective. Rescued, perhaps. You can also watch GO TV through the game’s interface, in case opening Twitch in a browser is too much like work for you. But I digress. That’s the news, now for the cloying back story.
The game itself, it barely needs saying, is a thing of legend, and I often wonder if newcomers are a little perplexed by its popularity. Before Call of Duty was even a glint in Jason West and Vince Zampella’s soon to be very disappointed eyes, it was Counter-Strike that provided the digital transportation to the quick-fire folly of the battlefield.
A Half Life Away
Half Life was one of the first games of its ilk, i.e. a first person shooter, that I really sunk my teeth into it. As is the case for so many of us, it was defining in so many ways, and memories of that game are something I will always hold pretty dear. When I found my cousin playing an online version, with SAS counter-terrorists, and bombs, and REAL PEOPLE on the other end, I was enraptured before my fingers could hit the WASD keys.
I suppose one of the things that really worked for the mod, is how unlikely Counter-Strike seemed at the time.
Gaming in general was still a brave new world, and internet gaming seemed barely plausible to me at the time. I was too young to own my own machine, and LAN wasn’t a consideration. CS was very much a ‘what-if’ scenario that turned out to be real and true and happening right now in your living room (while your parents were out). Playing through Half Life for the umpteenth time, you’d go, imagine being able to play little competitive games of this, with other people across the world. Imagine buying weapons between rounds from money earnt based on your kills. Imagine shooting some guy in the head to win the round.
Well. Some of you’d say that stuff anyway.
Trying to get Counter-Strike working on a 56k dial-up modem basically meant winding the thing up every 20 minutes. Or the digital equivalent, disconnecting and reconnecting. Through the turbulent winds of horrendous ping, the resulting in-game lag and general inability, I rarely did much damage playing CS 1.6; but there was something enigmatic about it anyway.
I miss the days of marvelling so much at the mere fact I’m taking part in an online match, that I didn’t mind getting shot to bits. These days I still get shot to bits, but the novelty’s worn off. Oh and I get to find out about some American twelve year old sodomising my immediate family members, at a pitch that could make diamonds very temporary. Hoorah.
Many, many years later, in 2012, no less, Counter-Strike returned.
Global Offensive became the new standard, and has gone on to maintain its name and grow into one of the biggest competitive gaming platforms in the world, and esports, in itself, is of course growing at an alarming rate.
I’ve never been one to buy into loot crates, so unfortunately I have no neon pink P90’s in my inventory, and I’m still far from adequate at the game, but it’s one I will always love returning to. Whether that’s online in competitive, or offline versus a pal, in which I inevitably get shot in the first 10 seconds and spend the rest of the round trying to micromanage BOT Steve by yelling at the screen. A bastion of the shooting genre, seeing off pretenders in the perk-soaked and class-heavy Call of Duty, or the Purchase ‘Em Up that EA’s Battlefield has become; a game that is pure shooting, pure mechanic, pure class.
You’ve no excuse not to try it now. Because it’s free.
One Legend To Another…
I’d apologise for all the mawkish rambling but I’ve just found out it’s Metal Gear Solid’s 20th anniversary, so there’s another one I’ll be sopping about pretty soon. More nauseating trite on Respawn soon you lot!