|Publisher(s)|| Valve Corporation|
|Platform(s)|| Microsoft Windows|
Mac OS X
|Release date(s)|| June 19, 1999 (beta)|
November 9, 2000 (mod)
November 14, 2000 (retail)
February 14, 2013 (Mac OS X, Linux)
|Rating(s)|| ESRB: Mature|
“The best multiplayer game of 2000, bar none.”
- This article is about the first game in the Counter-Strike series. For the video game series, see Counter-Strike (series).
Counter-Strike (also marketed as Half-Life: Counter-Strike) is a multiplayer first-person shooter initially created by Minh Le and Jess Cliffe as a mod for Half-Life. By the fifth beta, Valve Software started actively participating in the development and ultimately bought the rights to the game and offered the original developers jobs at the company which both of them accepted.
After about a year in Beta stages, the first full release of the mod was published on November 9, 2000 and the game was also available at retailers in North America shortly thereafter, on November 14, 2000.
Since the creation of the franchise, various sequels and spinoffs have been created, such as Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Counter-Strike: Source, and the latest in the series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The game started out as a Half-Life modification on the GoldSrc engine. It went through numerous iterations and it grew in popularity to become one of the most popular first-person shooters of all time. During the fifth beta Valve Software decided to get involved and eventually purchased the rights to the game.
On August 31, 2000 it was announced that Counter-Strike would be released as a retail product in addition to also being available as a mod for Half-Life. The decision to turn the game into a retail product was made as it was felt that a retail release would make the game more accessible. Valve Software also wanted to see how the market would react to a multiplayer product that didn't require Half-Life.
With the impending retail release, various legal issues had to be sorted out. One of these issues was the weapon names. They were changed to bogus names in order to avoid legal issues. In addition to simply purchasing the rights to the game, Valve Software also had to approach each level designer and artist to secure the rights to the maps and textures. Some textures were found to have dubious origins and they had to be remade or censored, which lead to some changes in maps for the retail release. While Minh Le had hoped that all maps would have been made part of the retail release, Valve opted to only include some of the maps in the retail release. For the maps that weren't purchased by Valve, Minh Le decided to reimburse the authors out of his own pockets despite him having no obligation to do so.
Naturally, the new version of the game would also feature new content. Three new weapons were modeled for the release by Minh Le. Also, all new player models were provided by Valve Software. Maverick Developments was also contracted to produce a training map for the retail version of the game.
In October it was stated that the mod version of the game would be released as soon as the retail version had gone gold. On November 9, 2000 it was announced that the retail release had gone gold, thus the mod version was released. The retail version appeared on store shelves in North America on November 14, 2000.
Much like during the beta stages, various patches were released for the game after its full release. Since Valve was now involved, updates that needed substantial changes to the engine were also possible. This included the introduction of a brand new spectator mode in Counter-Strike 1.1, voice-over communications in Counter-Strike 1.3 and anti-cheating technology in Counter-Strike 1.4. On June 12, 2002 Counter-Strike 1.5 was released which was the final version of the game available as a separately downloadable patch before the game was transferred to Steam.
Transfer to Steam
Counter-Strike had already made an appearance on Steam during early closed beta testing of both Counter-Strike 1.4 and the content delivery platform in early 2002. In March 2002, this beta testing was also opened to the public. However the use of Steam at this point was strictly for beta testing purposes and there were no plans to make the actual game available via Steam yet. Valve had wanted to make the game available on Steam coinciding with the release of Counter-Strike 1.5, but they eventually fell behind schedule and the transfer to Steam had to wait until Counter-Strike 1.6.
In October 2002 the news were dropped that Counter-Strike 1.6 would initially be made available via Steam and that a beta test would precede the actual release. Public beta testing was initially to commence in mid-November, but the date was first pushed back to mid-December until testing finally commenced on January 16, 2003. However, due to overwhelming demand further beta admissions were quickly suspended since the Steam servers ran out of bandwidth. Steam and thus the Counter-Strike 1.6 beta was made publicly available again on February 11, 2003.
The game would be updated numerous times during this beta test and Counter-Strike 1.6 saw the inclusion of new weapons and a completely new interface based on the VGUI2 technology by Valve Software. The official bot that was being developed by Turtle Rock Studios for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was also beta tested by the public in Counter-Strike 1.6 between June 5, 2003 and September 9, 2003. After over half a year of public beta testing, beta testing concluded on September 9, 2003. The final release of Counter-Strike 1.6 was initially supposed to be released the very next day, however last minute changes to the Steam network took longer than expected and the final version of Counter-Strike 1.6 was released on September 12, 2003 together with the Steam client.
Counter-Strike 1.6 ended up being the last major content update for the game and the version number is now commonly used as a title to differentiate the original game from the rest of the series. Since the release of Steam, various smaller patches have been released which have introduced fixes to bugs/exploits or smaller balance changes. A Counter-Strike 1.7 was planned for merging the online communities of Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, but such an update was never released.
In 2007 an update was introduced that caused quite a lot of controversy even before its introduction: in-game advertisements. Despite the negative reaction by the community, these advertisements would go on to decorate parts of the interface and the walls of some maps for a period of six years before they were eventually removed in 2013 when Counter-Strike was transferred over to the SteamPipe content delivery system.
The fast-paced and team-oriented gameplay of Counter-Strike has stayed relatively the same throughout the years. In it, two teams, the Counter-Terrorists and the Terrorists, fight to complete an objective or eliminate the opposing team. Although basic, it is considered one of the most revolutionary online games of all time. The original Counter-Strike came exclusively with multiplayer, without computer-controlled players. Over time, however, several server-side modifications have added bots for in-game use and bots were officially introduced in its later successors, Counter-Strike (Xbox) and Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.
When Counter-Strike left beta stages and the first complete build was released, two different editions of the game were available: mod and retail. After the game was transferred over to Steam, both of these editions were discontinued and only the Steam version is still supported. Since the release of the Steam version, the legacy editions (mod and retail) have been retroactively referred to as the the WON version based on the name of the matchmaking service used by those editions.
This was essentially the edition that was the most direct continuation of the beta releases. The mod edition of the game could be downloaded from the official Counter-Strike web site and required Half-Life to be installed in order to be playable.
Because this distribution was a mod just like the previous beta releases, this edition of the game kept the real weapon names. Also, this edition had exclusive maps that were not included in the retail edition as Valve Software had not bought the rights to all maps. The exclusive maps were Arabstreets, Dust2, Estate, Foption, Highrise, Inferno, Nuke, Rotterdam, Tundra, Vegas and Vertigo. Some of these maps were removed/introduced in subsequent patches.
When Counter-Strike was transferred to Steam with version 1.6, this edition was discontinued.
This edition was the first standalone release of Counter-Strike and Half-Life was not required to play the game. Since this edition of the game was like any other regular retail game release, Valve Software had to alter the weapon names and used made up names to prevent having to face legal issues. On a more curious note, the names of two Terrorist factions were also slightly altered for this edition. It is not known why this change was made or why it was exclusive to this edition of the game.
Valve Software had only bought the rights to some of the maps that were part of Counter-Strike, thus this release included fewer maps than the mod edition of the game. Separate map packs were released via the official web site that added the missing maps to this edition. However, the training map was exclusive to this edition of the game.
When Counter-Strike was transferred to Steam with version 1.6, this edition was discontinued.
This edition of the game was based on the retail edition meaning that it uses made-up weapon names and the slightly altered Terrorist faction names. Compared to the retail edition many of the missing maps were added. The added maps were Dust2, Estate, Inferno, Nuke and Vertigo. Curiously the training map was removed.
Newer retail releases including Counter-Strike 1 Anthology include this edition of the game.
This is the only edition that is still supported and is still occasionally being updated. Owners of the retail edition or the original Half-Life retail release can migrate to this edition by activating the CD key on Steam.
Counter-Strike has been praised worldwide for its highly competitive multiplayer. The decision to make the game multiplayer only roots back to its mod origins. Doing a single-player game would have entailed much more work as new models and AI code would have been needed for enemies as opposed to a multiplayer game which requires considerably less work.
In the original retail release, a short single-player only training map was included but this was removed when the game was transferred to Steam.
There are three official scenarios in Counter-Strike: Assassination, hostage rescue and bomb defusal. A fourth scenario, known as escape, existed during the Counter-Strike Beta. The scenario itself is still playable, but all of the official maps were removed prior to the game's release.
In this scenario hostages are being held by the Terrorists. Official maps feature between 3 and 5 hostages, though most maps feature 4 hostages. The Counter-Terrorist team needs to rescue these hostages by escorting them to a hostage rescue zone. The Terrorists must prevent the hostages from being rescued. Victory can also be attained by eliminating the opposing team.
This scenario features two bombsites and one Terrorist starts off with a C4. The bomb must be planted at either bombsite. After the bomb has been planted, it will explode after a certain amount of time. During this time, Counter-Terrorists may attempt to defuse the bomb and successful defusal will make the Counter-Terrorists victorious. If the bomb explodes, the Terrorists will win the round. It is also possible to win a round by eliminating the opposing team.
This scenario is the least popular of the three and only a single map, Oilrig, is featured in the latest release of the game. In this scenario a single player on the Counter-Terrorist team takes the role of a VIP that must make it to a VIP escape zone. Some maps feature only one escape zone while others feature multiple escape zones. The Terrorists have to take out the VIP and successfully eliminating the VIP will yield victory to the Terrorists. Both teams have a restricted arsenal of weapons available for purchase. Like in other scenarios, victory can also be attained by eliminating the opposing team.
Counter-Strike features a large variety of maps that take place in different environments including urban, arctic, jungle and desert settings. During the post-beta stages, maps were still rotated in the official distribution on a slightly smaller scale. Since the release of Counter-Strike 1.6, no maps have been added or removed from the game.
It should be noted that the majority of maps for the game were created by people that were originally simply hobbyist mappers. When Valve Software later bought the rights to Counter-Strike and its content these became the first works published at retail for many of the level designers.
List of maps
There are 25 official maps in the latest version of Counter-Strike.
List of removed maps
- This is a list of maps that were present in earlier post-beta versions of the game but were removed before Counter-Strike 1.6 was released. For a complete listing of maps, see history of official maps.
*This map was exclusive to the mod edition of the game.
Weapons and equipment
Counter-Strike features a variety of weapons, ranging from knives to shotguns and submachine guns. The weapons for Counter-Strike were chosen mainly based on two criteria. For one, the weapons had to be satisfying to use and they had to look and sound cool. The other criteria was realism and what weapons the factions would likely be using in real-life. The former of these criteria was given more weight than ensuring authenticity.
Inspiration for potential weapon candidates were taken from various movies. For example, the movie Ronin inspired the inclusion of the Krieg 552 and M249. Further inspiration was also taken from the movies Air Force One and the Professional.
Most of the information regarding the weapons themselves was sourced from the internet or from gun magazines. Because limited information was available regarding some of the weapons, Minh Le had to guess how some weapons could have functioned when animating them and thus a few weapon models exhibit differences when compared to their real-world counterparts.
Counter-Strike notably features left-handed weapon view models. These models were made as left-handed because the creator of these models and the main man behind Counter-Strike, Minh Le, is left-handed and thus preferred animating the weapons from that side. The game features a possibility of changing the models to right-handed, but as the models are simply mirrored from their left-handed counterparts they sport some inaccuracies when compared to their real-world counterparts.
List of weapons
Counter-Strike features a total of 25 weapons, some of which are exclusive to the Counter-Terrorists and others which are exclusive to the Terrorists. The list also indicates the original name of a weapon from the mod release if applicable.
| Base damage|
(Glock18 Select Fire)
K&M .45 Tactical
(H&K USP .45 Tactical)
Night Hawk .50C
(Desert Eagle .50AE)
.40 Dual Elites
(Dual Beretta 96G Elite)
Leone 12 Gauge Super
(Benelli M3 Super90)
Leone YG1265 Auto Shotgun
Schmidt Machine Pistol
(Steyr Tactical Machine Pistol)
K&M Sub-Machine Gun
ES M249 Para
(FN M249 Para)
Maverick M4A1 Carbine
(Colt M4A1 Carbine)
Krieg 552 Commando
(Sig SG-552 Commando)
Magnum Sniper Rifle
(AI Arctic Warfare/Magnum)
D3/AU-1 Semi-Auto Sniper Rifle
(H&K G3/SG-1 Sniper Rifle)
Krieg 550 Commando
(Sig SG-550 Sniper)
List of equipment
Along with the weapons, there are nine pieces of acquirable equipment, three of which are grenades. If ammunition, the radio and the flashlight are to be included, the number of equipment is increased to twelve.
|Grenade||Both||$300||Blocking lines of sight|
|Bomb defusal equipment||Terrorists||N/A||Blowing up bombsites|
|Bomb defusal equipment||Counter-Terrorists||$200||Decreasing defusal time|
|Protective equipment||Both||$650||Reducing damage|
Kevlar + Helmet
|Protective equipment||Both||$1000||Reducing damage|
|Illuminating equipment||Both||$1250||Improving vision in darkness|
|Protective equipment||Counter-Terrorists||$2200||Mobile cover|
Factions and player models
Counter-Strike features a number of different factions that are aligned either with the Counter-Terrorists or the Terrorists. The only difference between factions of the same side is the player model that will be visible to other players. Thus for example on snow themed maps, players may favor picking the Arctic Avengers when playing as Terrorists due to their white camouflage.
Player models for the Counter-Strike Beta had been created by Minh Le, however for the full release Valve Software stepped in to provide new player models because the old models were inefficient in terms of polygon count and texture sizes. These models were created by Chuck Jones and Stephen Theodore. In Counter-Strike 1.1 these models were enhanced with higher resolution textures and the C4 and the defusal kit were re-added to the player models.
With the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero 1.1 on April 28, 2004 it became possible for owners of Condition Zero to use the enhanced player models in this game. Previously, there used to be no direct way of disabling these upgraded models. In the update issued on February 2, 2013 it was finally made possible to toggle these models at will via an Enable HD models if available checkbox. Ticking this checkbox will also replace all models used from the original Half-Life, including the scientist model sometimes used for hostages, with their HD counterparts.
List of factions
Each team has four available factions that players can choose as their third-person model.
|SEAL Team 6||Counter-Terrorists||United States|
Marketing and merchandiseWhen Counter-Strike was originally released at retail it was given the title Half-Life: Counter-Strike. This title was given because it was felt that Counter-Strike didn't have a strong enough identity at that time to stand on its own.
An advertising campaign was also launched by the publisher, Sierra Entertainment, in late 2000. This campaign saw advertisements for the game appearing in various gaming publications including Computer Gaming World and PC Gamer. Sierra also launched their official website for the game on November 4, 2000.
Perhaps in an effort to increase the value of the original retail edition, other Half-Life mods were included in the package. These were Half-Life Deathmatch, Half-Life: Opposing Force Capture the Flag, FireArms, Redemption, Wanted! and Team Fortress Classic. All of these mods included only the multiplayer component.
The official strategy guide for the game was published by Versus Books. Other than including regular gameplay hints, it also includes 2D overviews of the retail version maps. At the time of publishing this was quite useful since overviews weren't made part of the game until Counter-Strike 1.3.
|Computer Games Magazine||90/100|
Reviewers praised the teamplay and social aspects of the game. Scott Osbourne of GameSpot thought the round based gameplay allowed chatting dead players forming a sense of tension. Clayton Wolfe of IGN thought that successful teamplay was the recipe for ensuring a victory for ones team. At Computer Games Magazine, Bill Hiles stated that "teamwork is crucial for success" and noted that better players utilized coordinated team efforts to succeed in the game.
The choice of weapons was praised by Osbourne, with him stating that "one of Counter-Strike's biggest appeals has always been the selection of weapons". Dan Watson of PC Gameworld thought the weapon modeling was excellent and that they handled realistically.
While Wolfe felt that the weapon purchasing system was frustrating at first, it quickly stated feeling like an enhancement to the online experience. Watson thought the purchasing system brought a great deal of variety to the game, stating that "one round may find you perched on a fire escape with a high-caliber sniper rifle, while on the next round you may choose to bust in the front door with a double-barreled shotgun".
Journalists were torn on the graphical side of the game. Osbourne stated that "the Half-Life graphics engine may be dated now, but Counter-Strike has always used it to its fullest potential" and thought the new player model graphics were especially good. Wolfe stated that "visually the game will not disappoint" even though the Half-Life engine was dated and thought the environmental textures looked "realistic enough". Watson however thought the game had a noticeably dated look, stating that "no amount of tweaking can disguise the fact that this engine is based on a two-year-old core, and a facelift would really work wonders".
The weapon sound effects were well received by Osbourne, Wolfe and Watson. Scott Osbourne thought "the guns sound remarkably realistic and powerful, which makes them viscerally fun to shoot". IGN editor Wolfe concluded that "the realistic guns sounds are spot on". Watson thought the sound effects in overall were on par or superior to other games on the market. However, Wolfe thought that the other sound effects used sounded wimpy and he had hoped for deeper bass and clearer sounds.
Generally, reviewer concluded that the retail release was a good buy for people who didn't own Half-Life or didn't have access to high-speed internet connections. It was also seen as a good release from the point of convenience as everything needed to play the game online was available on a single CD.
As of December 3, 2008, Counter-Strike has sold over 4.2 million retail copies, more than any other Valve game besides Half-Life and its sequel, Half-Life 2. Since Counter-Strike is also available as a modification for Half-Life, part of the Half-Life sales are commonly attributed to the success of Counter-Strike. In fact, the sales of Half-Life increased year-on-year for a few years after its release which was very unusual at the time as most games had a shelf life of around 3 months. Gabe Newell attributed this pattern to the popularity of Counter-Strike and thought the release of the mod was the best thing that could have happened to Half-Life.
After its release, the game topped many lists as the most popular online game. Even in 2015, 15 years after the release of the game, the game frequented the top 25 games played on Steam list and its longevity has outlasted both Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and Counter-Strike: Source.
Counter-Strike has won various awards. It won the Game Developers Conference Game Spotlight award in 2001. The game was also granted the Game of the Year 2000 title by Gamers.com while Voodoo Extreme gave it the readers choice award. Computer Games Magazine, Game Revolution, Electronic Playground and GameSpot (UK and US) all granted it the award of best online/multiplayer game of 2000.
Counter-Strike is considered one of the most influential multiplayer games of all time. The game is also attributed to having pushed the competitive gaming movement forward. It has also been reported that Counter-Strike was the first game for which a fantasy league was started.
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