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Counter-Strike: Condition Zero

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Overview


Cscz logo
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
Developer(s) Valve Corporation
Gearbox Software
Ritual Entertainment
Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher(s) Valve Corporation
Vivendi Universal Publishing
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Linux
Release date(s) March 23, 2004 (Windows)
February 21, 2013 (Linux)
Genre First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player
Multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature
PEGI: 16+

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero (CS: CZ) is a first-person shooter video game and the sequel to the original Counter-Strike.

Overview

The game was released in 2004 via both retail stores and Steam and uses the GoldSrc (Half-Life) engine. Condition Zero features a multiplayer mode, which features updated character models, textures, maps, and other graphical tweaks. It is bundled with a copy of Counter-Strike regardless of how you purchase it.

Unlike other Counter-Strike games, Condition Zero also contains a single-player mission pack with the player unlocking maps and more efficient bots as they pass certain requirements for each map while playing as a Counter-Terrorist. These requirements include objectives such as "kill 3 enemies with a Clarion 5.56" or "win a round in 45 seconds". This game mode is called Tour of Duty.

There is another single player mission pack called "Deleted Scenes". So far, Condition Zero is the only game in the franchise that features a single player campaign.

Condition Zero is known for introducing the Counter-Strike bot, although the Xbox port of Counter-Strike was actually the first game in the series to include it.

As of April 15, 2009, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero is one of the ten most played Half-Life modifications in terms of players, according to GameSpy.[1]

Development

The development of Counter-Strike Condition Zero originally started in 2001 with Rogue Entertainment working on the game, but development was overtaken by Gearbox Software relatively quickly due to concerns with the financial stability of Rogue Entertainment. After about a year of development, Gearbox Software decided to withdraw from the project and in mid 2002 Ritual Entertainment took over development before the game finally landed in the hands of the relatively young Turtle Rock Studios in mid 2003.

Turtle Rock Studios had already been involved with development of the game when Ritual Entertainment was in charge of its development in the form of the official bots.[2] Internal playtests at Valve Software and early reviews of the game developed by Ritual Entertainment had revealed some serious short comings in its design.[3] On the other hand, the official bot created by Turtle Rock Studios had been very well received by the community and the press, which is why Valve Software decided to give Turtle Rock the responsibility of redesigning the game from scratch in around June 2003.[4]

The design by Turtle Rock Studios drew some inspiration from sports games,[5] and due to the success of the bots it became possible to build very flexible arcade-like missions for the game.[6] While the design of the game by Gearbox Software was never officially mentioned as a source of inspiration, the similarities are quite obvious. Instead of completely scrapping the work done by Ritual Entertainment, the decision was made to package it up as a bonus game of sorts with the title Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes.

On October 8, 2003 the version of the game designed by Turtle Rock Studios was unveiled to the public and it was to go gold by October 10, 2003 and be available at retail and via Steam on November 18, 2003.[6] Only a day after this version of the game had been announced, it would end up getting leaked coinciding with the Half-Life 2 leak.[7]

By the time November 18, 2003 came around the game was nowhere to be seen. According to Jess Cliffe, the game had been delayed due to work needed to be done by the publisher in finalizing international versions of the game.[8] Soon Valve Software would also drag this into their on-going lawsuit with the publisher Vivendi Universal Games claiming that Vivendi purposefully delayed the release of Condition Zero which made it miss the 2003 holiday season.[9]

In a further move of bad luck, Condition Zero was leaked for the second time in early January 2004.[10] However, the following month on February 25, 2004 publisher Vivendi Universal Games announced the long awaited release date of March 23, 2004 for the game.[11] This time the game would no longer slip, and after almost 3 since the game was initially announced it was finally released on March 23, 2004.[12]

Post-release, the game was updated with substantial new content including higher quality character and weapon models, new maps, a new radar/location system and a major change to the hostage rescue game mode.

On February 21, 2013 a beta of the game was made available for Linux and Mac OS X and on March 7, 2013 support for these platforms was officially released.[13]

Game modes

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was originally designed to introduce a single-player Counter-Strike experience and therefore it has more in-depth single player modes available than other entries in the series. In addition to two different single player modes, the traditional multiplayer mode is also available.

Single-player — Tour of Duty

Main article: Tour of Duty
CSCZ Tour of Duty menu

Tour of Duty map selection menu

The Tour of Duty single-player mode is the main single-player mode in the game. It allows players to play regular multiplayer maps in an arcade-like single player experience. The basic setting is very similar to a regular multiplayer game as the game utilizes the new bot AI to enable the possibility of having team mates and enemies in the game. Each map has a certain amount of objectives which include killing a certain amount of enemies or rescuing hostages. Usually, some restrictions such as achieving the objectives with a specific weapon or within a certain time frame accompany the objectives. When these objectives are completed, the player earns a reputation point. Reputation points are needed to unlock the next set of maps and they are also used to recruit new or better team mates.

Starting with version 1.1, the game supports the possibility of creating custom campaigns for the game mode. Since the release of this support, numerous unofficial campaigns have been released online.

Single-player — Deleted Scenes

The Deleted Scenes part of the game is included as a separate bonus game. This part consists of major parts of the work done by Ritual Entertainment for their iteration of the game. There are major differences in game mechanics and weapon balance in this game mode compared to a Counter-Strike multi-player game or the Tour of Duty mode. This game plays more like a traditional linear shooter like Half-Life than a multiplayer game of Counter-Strike.

Multiplayer

While it was originally planned to have cross-compatibility between online players of Counter-Strike and players of Condition Zero,[3] the two games feature completely separate multiplayer communities in a much criticized move. For the most part, the multiplayer game itself is identical to that of the original Counter-Strike.

One major difference is the ability to add bots to servers. These bots function much like any other player taking up regular player slots. The server admin can freely choose the amount of bots they want to include in a server, thus it is also possible to play a multiplayer game solo without other human players using bots.

The second, and perhaps the most major, difference is the hostage rescue game mode. Starting with version 1.2 of the game, the hostage AI was updated to utilize some of the same routines as the bot AI does. Using these routines, hostages have gained the ability to find their way to the hostage rescue zones by themselves, that is unless a terrorist approaches them in which case they will run back to their original location. In addition, hostages also have the ability to climb ladders.

Maps

For the missions included in Deleted Scenes, see Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes#Missions

Most of the maps included in the game were maps taken from previous work on the game by Ritual Entertainment. In addition, the remakes of classic Counter-Strike maps created by Ritual for the Xbox port of Counter-Strike were also made part of the game. In fact, the only new map originating from the time Turtle Rock Studios was working on the game was Sienna, which was a collaborative effort of veteran Counter-Strike level designer David Johnston, Valve Software and Turtle Rock.[14]

A total of four maps were added to the game post-release via game patches.

List of maps

In addition to the new maps included with Condition Zero, all maps from the original Counter-Strike are also playable via Condition Zero. There is out-of-the-box bot support included for all the new and original maps. The listing below only includes the maps (or versions of them) that are part of Condition Zero.

Map name Game mode Release date Original designer*
Airstrip Bomb defusal Initial release Christopher Auty
Aztec Bomb defusal Initial release Christopher Auty
Cbble Bomb defusal Initial release David Johnston
Corruption Bomb defusal July 14, 2004 Chris Voss
Downed Hostage rescue Initial release Nick Coombe
Dust Bomb defusal Initial release David Johnston
Dust2 Bomb defusal Initial release David Johnston
Fastline Bomb defusal Initial release Luke Whiteside
Havana Hostage rescue Initial release Chris Ashton
Inferno Bomb defusal Initial release Christopher Auty
Italy Hostage rescue Initial release Glen Cooper
Militia Hostage rescue Initial release Andrew Aumann
Office Hostage rescue Initial release Alexander Manilov
Piranesi Bomb defusal Initial release Iikka Keränen
Prodigy Bomb defusal Initial release Alexander Manilov
Sienna Bomb defusal June 2, 2004 David Johnston
Stadium Bomb defusal Initial release Christopher Auty
Tides Bomb defusal Initial release David Johnston
Torn Bomb defusal Initial release Nick Coombe, Matt Coombe
Truth Bomb defusal July 14, 2004 Dan Haigh
Vostok Bomb defusal June 2, 2004 Marc Schröder

*Some of these maps have been worked on by numerous people and companies. This lists the original author of the map only; the person mainly responsible for the general geometry of the map.

Weapons and equipment

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero features exactly the same arsenal of weapons and equipment as the original Counter-Strike. The possibility of weapons exclusive to Deleted Scenes being introduced was mentioned,[5] but this never happened.

Back when Ritual Entertainment was working on Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, they had remade all of the weapon models in the game. However, some people felt that some of these models looked too different from the original Counter-Strike weapon models. Therefore the models originally created by Ritual were slightly modified and then introduced into Condition Zero starting with version 1.1.[15]

Factions and character models

When Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was initially released, it had the same factions as the original Counter-Strike. In version 1.2, two new factions were added: the American Terrorists Midwest Militia and the Russian Counter-Terrorists Spetsnaz.

Condition Zero was supposed to use the player models that Ritual Entertainment had created, but due to technical difficulties with these models the game was initially launched using the original Counter-Strike models.[16] However, in version 1.1 of the game the enhanced player models originally made by Ritual were added to the game.

The hostage models also received a make-over in version 1.2, coinciding with the major hostage rescue game mode update. These models were likely created by Turtle Rock Studios,[17] but they were based on hostage models created by Ritual Entertainment.

Music and sound effects

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero would utilize some of the music originally composed by Zak Belica when Ritual Entertainment was working on the game. In addition to music featured in the main menu, several pieces are used within the Tour of Duty game mode.

Enhanced sound effects were introduced to the game in version 1.1. Many of these sound effects originated from the version of the game Ritual Entertainment was working on. However, it was felt that some of these sounds created by Zak Belica deviated too far from the original sound effects, thus many of these sound effects were remade.[18]

Interface

CSCZ new interface elements

Game screenshot with tutor providing a hint (top-right) and location indicator below radar

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero introduces an extended help/tutor system. This provides real-time assistance to new players of the game based on events that occur in the game. These include instructions on how to win bomb defusal and hostage rescue maps and the usefulness of special equipment such as the defusal kit. When spectating, the tutor will provide random hints regarding general gameplay. To prevent experienced users from getting annoyed, the tutor can be disabled. Curiously, having the tutor enabled disables the kill feed.

A major update was also made to the buy menu in version 1.1 with the introduction of buy packages. Players can configure a total of four different buy packages that include primary and secondary weapons and equipment. There is also the possibility of configuring fall back weapons/equipment that will be purchased in case the player is low on funds.

Another major change to the interface is the introduction of a location system to the radar, introduced in version 1.2. This system uses data stored in the bot navigation files to name different areas of the map. When chatting, messages automatically include which area the players are in. Bots also utilize this information to provide voice feedback on e.g. where they have encountered enemies. Because the location data is completely separate from the map itself, it is possible to add support for place names to custom maps without having access to the map source. Condition Zero ships with navigation files including the place name information for all new maps and the original Counter-Strike maps.

Technology

The most important piece of new technology introduced with Condition Zero to the PC platform were the bots. In order to provide some enhancement to the dated look of the GoldSrc engine, detail texture support was also introduced.

Bots

The bots that are included with the game were developed by Michael Booth of Turtle Rock Studios and development on the bots was started when Ritual Entertainment was still in charge of development on the game.[2] While a bot had already been developed by Gearbox Software for their iteration of the game, this bot was scrapped and Booth started from scratch as he had a quite different approach for creating the bot.[2] Unlike any other bot until the release of Condition Zero, this bot has the capability of automatically learning new maps, making it possible to use it on most custom maps without requiring intervention by the user.[2]

This bot was beta tested by the public in the original Counter-Strike between June 5, 2003 and September 9, 2003.[19][20] However, major advances in the behavior of the bots were made after this beta test. As said by Michael Booth, the beta tested bots were "version one" and the bots introduced in Condition Zero were "version one-point-five".[21]

Due to the delayed release date of Condition Zero, the original plan for the bot to be introduced in Condition Zero didn't hold and it was in fact first released as part of the Xbox port of Counter-Strike.

Detail textures

Coinciding with the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Valve Software added support for detail textures to the GoldSrc engine. This support was enabled by utilizing code originally created by Ritual Entertainment for the Xbox port of the game.[22] All the new maps included in Condition Zero ship with support for detail textures.

Marketing

CounterStrike cards02

Promotional trading cards

As substantial amounts of marketing material had already been created for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero when Ritual Entertainment was developing the title, little new material was produced and most marketing material was reused. The final box art of the game looks pretty much identical to the box art revealed for the earlier version of the game, which is likely why the logo of Turtle Rock Studios was absent from the box art of the game.

The series of 20 trading cards originally created to promote the version of the game designed by Ritual Entertainment were now included as a pre-order incentive for the game,[11] despite the fact that material shown on them was exclusively part of the game designed by Ritual Entertainment.

In addition Prima Games had previously completed the official strategy guide for the version of the game designed by Ritual Entertainment. It would seem that this guide was modified by adding information pertaining to the Tour of Duty game mode, and the six missions that were initially absent from the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes were removed from the guide.

Reception

Review scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 67/100[23]
Metacritic 65/100[24]
Publication Score
GameSpot 68/100[25]
GameStar 64/100[26]
IGN 70/100[27]
PC Gamer (UK) 75/100[28]
PC Zone 83/100[29]
The main feature of the game, the bot AI was generally praised, with PC Zone stating that the bots are "so intelligent they make your average online player look like a baboon who's been dropped at birth". GameSpot thought actions performed by the bots like breaking windows to reach certain areas more quickly were remarkable.

Reception for the Tour of Duty game mode was quite mixed, with PC Gamer criticizing the structure of the game mode and thought there was too little replayability. PC Zone on the other hand applauded the decision to change the design of the single player mode to the more arcade approach reminiscent of the type of gameplay originally promised from the game when Gearbox Software was developing it.

The Deleted Scenes portion of the game was considered a nice bonus, but GameSpot stated that the decision to purchase the game shouldn't be made based on them as the missions were so heavily scripted that they didn't feel like Counter-Strike at all.

However, the dated engine of the game was particularly criticized with reviewers stating that the game arrived too late and that the visuals were no match against other shooters released at the time.

Reviewers that had previously reviewed the version of Condition Zero designed by Ritual Entertainment praised the decision to redesign the game. In the end though, comparing the review scores of that version to the final version shows only marginal improvement in the scores.

Generally, reviewers concluded that Condition Zero was a good purchase for people who had yet to play Counter-Strike, but that people who already owned Counter-Strike should pass on it since they already had access to the most important part: the multiplayer component.

Behind the scenes

  • An older build of the game, known as "cstrike_trs" (Counter-Strike: Turtle Rock Studios), was leaked with several other mods and the Half-Life 2 Beta in 2003. This build includes the multiplayer and offline portions of the game with bot support, and spots several differences.
    • The game files include the bot voices before they were processed with a radio filter.
    • Cut maps are included within this build, along with a folder containing many community and test maps. Some maps differ from their final versions.
    • Counter-Strike's models are used for players, bots and weapons.
    • Equipment sets were not yet implemented.
    • The Tour of Duty campaigns features 7 tours instead of the released 6, all of which included some of the cut maps.
    • Bot of higher levels were not restricted to a certain amount of points. A player could hire a 5 points bot early on in the campaign.

References

  1. GameSpy - Top Mods For Half-Life By Players. Archived from the original on 2009-04-15.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 HomeLan Fed : Exclusives : Official Counter-Strike Bot Interview. Archived from the original on 2003-04-26.
  3. 3.0 3.1 HomeLAN Fed : Exclusives : CS: Condition Zero-Turtle Rock Studios Interview. Archived from the original on 2004-04-22.
  4. GameSpot - Condition Zero commotion has golden ending
  5. 5.0 5.1 IGN - PC Games: Condition Zero Interview. Archived from the original on 2004-12-11.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Shacknews - Condition Zero Gold Friday. Archived from the original on 2003-12-02.
  7. Half.Life.Including.Condition.Zero.READ.NFO-ANON - anon-czero.nfo release date of October 9, 2003
  8. GameSpot - Condition Zero goes fool's gold
  9. GameSpot - Valve prevails in cyber-café rights case
  10. CS-Nation - news - cs:cz leaked... again. Archived from the original on 2004-05-17.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Press Release - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Ships to Stores
  12. Steam - Condition Zero Update History
  13. Steam Community :: Group Announcements :: Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
  14. CS-Nation - interviews - cz 1.2 interview. Archived from the original on 2004-06-09.
  15. Ritualistic Forums - New Weapon Models that are not Rituals???
  16. Ritualistic Forums - The CS:CZ models
  17. Ritualistic Forums - CS:CZ skin info
  18. CS-Nation - interviews - condition zero patch. Archived from the original on 2004-06-05.
  19. Counter-Strike Update History on Steam
  20. Counter-Strike Update History on Steam. Archived from the original on 2003-08-06.
  21. CS-Nation - articles - condition zero: hands-on. Archived from the original on 2003-10-30.
  22. Ritualistic Forums - Detail textures
  23. GameRankings - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero for PC
  24. Metacritic - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero for PC Reviews
  25. GameSpot - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Review
  26. GameStar - Mai 2004 (2004) IDG Entertainment Verlag GmbH.
  27. IGN - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Review
  28. PC Gamer - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Review. Archived from the original on 2004-04-08.
  29. PC Zone Magazine - PC Review: Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11.

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