Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation

Counter Strike is a first person shooter developed by Valve Corporation in 1999 and released one year later. It shook the entire gaming industry and the consequences of this game reverberated over more than a decade, turning the first-person shooter genre into a worldwide favorite. The game was so successful that it spawned an entire franchise and more than 15 years later, it is still revered as the parent of some of the best video games.

Key facts about Counter Strike

  • Counter Strike was the first game to engage millions of players from worldwide and the starting point for the first international tournaments dedicated to first-person shooters.
  • The game is now available on consoles as well, with Xbox being the first to offer the game to its audience.
  • Players choose their faction between terrorists and counterterrorist forces and compete over several rounds of gameplay while completing map objectives.
  • All the weapons used in Counter Strike are real guns, so the game also served as educational material for those interested in ballistics.
  • Counter Strike has no single player campaign, as it is a mode of the popular Half Life videogame.

The Counter Strike games

Counter Strike is sometimes referred to as Counter Strike 1.6, in an attempt to differentiate it from the other iterations. All the games developed under this brand use similar gameplay mechanics, but feature new and more powerful graphics. The Counter Strike games revolve around the same objectives, with players trying to defeat each other by eliminating opponents, securing targets and dealing with hostages.

The bomb defusal mode remains the most popular one, with terrorists carrying a bomb and trying to plant it on one of the chosen spots. The counterterrorist unit attempts to defuse the bomb before it blows and at the same time eliminate the terrorists guarding the package. The governmental forces also win if time runs out and the bomb doesn’t blow, regardless of how many terrorists are still alive.

Another popular Counter Strike game involves the rescuing of hostages, with these being initially held by the terrorists. Unlike the bomb defusal scenario, the bad guys win if the hostages are not freed before time runs out. It is not permitted for either terrorists or counterterrorist to kill the hostages and those who do it on purpose or by accident, lose the round.

The VIP escort has one of the counter terrorists impersonating a VIP and armed with a single pistol, he needs to survive and reach safety. His teammates try to defend him, while the terrorists are supposed to kill the target before it is extracted. The difference between this mod and the hostage situation is that terrorists actually win by killing the VIP.

What is Counter Strike?

Counter Strike is a first-person shooter that owes its popularity exclusively to the multiplayer, as there is no single player version of the game. Action takes place in various places of the world, with each map being designed in such a way as to transport players to a virtual destination. Terrorists and counter-terrorists try to annihilate each other and they have an entire arsenal at their disposal. They choose the weapons and the rest of the gear before the game starts and then pursue with securing their objectives.

Screenshot of Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation
Screenshot of Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation

Gameplay of Counter Strike

Looking back at the original title, Counter Strike appears to have a straightforward gameplay, with no storyline and no plot twists. Players choose their team at the beginning of the game and they also have the option of becoming spectators, in which case they monitor the action without interfering. Once they decide to play as terrorists or counter terrorists, they are supposed to complete divergent objectives.

Depending on the map of choice, the objectives vary, but they are always one of these listed below: bomb defusal, hostage rescue and VIP escort. The terrorists will try to blow the bomb before the time runs out, prevent the enemies from saving hostages while trying to kill the VIP. Naturally, if you embrace the other side, your target will be to defuse the bomb, bring the hostages to safety and protect the VIP.

In addition to choosing their side, players can also choose between eight default character models but the differences are relegated to mere visuals. Players start from predefined landing areas and this is the only place on the map where they can purchase weapons and ammunition. Within a strict period of time, they can return to these areas to acquire new weapons or more ammo, although the fastest way to replenish a depleted magazine is to pick up a rifle from a fallen enemy or a friend. Players who survive for an entire round will start the next one with the same gear and also receive bonus cash for completing objectives.

Plot of Counter Strike

Counter Strike is not a stand-alone game and unlike the Half Life first-person shooter that it is built on, doesn’t have a narrative. It is all about multiplayer and those who play the game are completing the same objectives over and over again. To make up for the apparent lack of diversity, developers have introduced new maps while adding extra objectives, such as hostage rescuing and protecting the VIP.

Some Counter Strike 1.6 maps give one team or the other a clear advantage, which explains why players are given the chance to ban them at tournaments. Terrorists would benefit from playing on maps where the bomb is placed in an open space, while preferring small maps with many rooms when trying to prevent hostages from escaping. At the highest level, players need to keep all these things in mind and choosing the right map can make the difference between victory and failure.

Screenshot of Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation
Screenshot of Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation

Depending on the proficiency of players, strategy can be used with high effectiveness, but teams require outstanding coordination. The game is not restrictive in any way, so despite the fact that one plays the same maps over and over again, each match feels fresh and innovative. There are countless combinations and many ways to solve the same problem, which explains the popularity of Counter Strike online.

Development of Counter Strike

Counter Strike didn’t spend a lot of time in the making, because the game was actually designed as a mod for the already popular Half Life videogame. Compared to the original, it looks quite different and at the time of its release, it added a layer of authenticity. Looking back, video players surely realize that the trend has changed radically. Popular titles such as Call of Duty Black Ops 3 or Call of Duty Advanced Warfare are highly realistic, while the mods feature zombies and other supernatural creatures, but Valve did the exact opposite.

The developers of Counter Strike 1.6 also chose to give administrators a lot of flexibility for a better control of their servers. The game has dozens of special modes that significantly affect gameplay, such as the Superhero or Zombie Mod. At the same time, some changes are quite subtle and administrators only get to restrict the freedom of movement for spectators and dead players.

Counter Strike was a highly customizable game by any standards and players could create or install special personalized skins. Spray graphics, as well as HUDs and customized sprites were allowed, turning an otherwise simple first-person shooter into a delightful gaming experience.

Where can I download Counter Strike?

15 years after its release, Counter Strike can be downloaded for free and since it has developed a cult following, it has plenty of fans. Even at the beginning, the game was supposed to be available for free, since it was only a mod for Half Life, so players don’t have to pay a dime to enjoy it today.

Screenshot of Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation
Screenshot of Counter Strike. © Valve Corporation

What are others saying about Counter Strike?

Counter Strike 1.6 received extremely favorable reviews when it was released back in 2000 and it still ranks high in all charts. The fact that the first professional fantasy eSports league introduced the game right from the start speaks volumes about the popularity of Counter Strike over the years. The game mechanics, the graphics, but most of all the highly addictive gameplay made it a long-lasting hit.

Counter Strike tournaments

The longevity of Counter Strike is the result of the game being at the cornerstone of the first tournament dedicated to first-person shooters. There are no official leagues anymore where participants compete for real cash when playing Counter Strike though, as the game was replaced by the 2014 sequel.

My rating of Counter Strike

No other first-person shooter had a bigger impact on the gaming community than Counter Strike. On a personal level, it completely changed the way I looked at this genre and convinced me to spend long hours in front of the computer. Sometimes you need an entire decade to realize the quality of a game, but I was impressed by Counter Strike 1.6 right from the start. For its contribution to the first-person shooter genre as well as the revolutionary concepts introduced in 2000, I give it a flawless rating of 10 out of 10.

If you are interested to find out more about the other games in the Counter Strike series, check out the reviews of Condition Zero, Global Offensive and Source.

Overall Score