Counter-Strike (commonly abbreviated to CS) is a tactical first-person shooter video game which originated from a Half-Life modification by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe. The game has been expanded into a series since its original release, which currently includes Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Counter-Strike: Source, Counter-Strike: Anthology and Counter-Strike on Xbox. Counter-Strike pits a team of counter-terrorists against a team of terrorists in a series of rounds. Each round is won by either completing the mission objective or eliminating the opposing force. The latest incarnation of the game, Counter-Strike: Source, is based on the Source engine developed for Half-Life 2.

The game is almost entirely based on the dynamically streamlined multiplayer experience activated via Steam, and is currently the most played Half-Life modification in terms of players, according to GameSpy.

Counter-Strike was developed first as a Half-Life modification. Therefore named "Half-Life: Counter-Strike." The original version was a 3rd-party Half-Life modification, but since then it has grown into a commercial mod and later advertised as separate game in itself. It still uses and runs on the Half-Life game engine and is based on its unchanged structure.

Version history

On 24 March 1999 Planet Half-Life opened its Counter-Strike section. Within two weeks, the site had received 10,000 hits.

On June 18, 1999, the first public beta of Counter-Strike was released, followed by numerous further "beta" releases. On April 12, 2000, Valve announced that the Counter-Strike developers and Valve had teamed up. Counter-Strike 1.0 was released around Christmas 2000.

On January 25, 2003, a world wide competition was held by Valve and hosted by Dell. Numerous Dell desktops and laptops were awarded in the competition which attracted over 10,000 participants. The competition was held over a two week period, with the winner ("b0b") being announced on February 15 on Valve's website.

Condition Zero

In 2004, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was released. It contained a single player campaign and bots, as well as other changes.

Distribution and service


When Counter-Strike was published by Sierra Entertainment/Vivendi Universal Games, it was bundled with Team Fortress Classic, Opposing Force multiplayer, and the Wanted, Redemption and Firearms mods."

Steam and the WON gaming service

Counter-Strike was originally played online through the WON gaming service, which was shut down in 2004, forcing players to switch to Steam. The non-Steam version of Counter-Strike (version 1.5) can still be downloaded from sites such as FilePlanet. Due to the closure of WON, part of the player community responded by creating their own WON network, dubbed WON2.

Addition of in-game advertising

In March 2007, Valve implemented mandatory advertisements through Steam in official maps and in the game's GUI overhead. Customers have expressed frustration with the ads, including an over 200 page thread on Valve's official forums, saying that they violate original terms of service and distract from the game. The thread was later deleted by an unknown moderator.

Counter-Strike Online

As of February 2008, Counter-Strike Online is only available in South Korea and is now in open beta test. Counter-Strike Online It is being developed by Nexon Corporation with oversight from license-holder Valve Corporation, and is an attempt to increase market share of Valve's games in the Korean gaming market.


Recently, a group of developers released a beta version of Counter-strike for the Dreamcast namely called Counter-strike DC. Although it is just a beta, a few options are available which include enemy AI, and the maps Militia, Italia and Dust 2.


Counter-Strike is a first-person shooter in which players join either the terrorist or counter-terrorist team (or becomes a spectator). Each team attempts to complete their mission objective and/or eliminate the opposing team. Each round starts with the two teams spawning simultaneously, usually at opposite ends of the map from each other. A player can choose to play as one of eight different default character models (four for each side, although Counter-Strike: Condition Zero added two extra models, bringing the total to ten). Players are generally given a few seconds before the round begins (known as "freeze time") to prepare and buy equipment, during which they cannot attack or walk/move (a player can still take damage, having the player drop from a certain height during freeze time was the only way somebody could control the players starting "HP"). They can return to the buy area within a set amount of time to buy more equipment (some custom maps included neutral "buy zones" that could be used by both teams). Once the round has ended, surviving players retain their equipment for use in the next round; players who were killed begin the next round with the basic default starting equipment.

Standard monetary bonuses are awarded for winning a round, losing a round, killing an enemy, being the first to instruct a hostage to follow, rescuing a hostage or planting the bomb.

The scoreboard displays team scores in addition to statistics for each player: name, kills, deaths, and ping (in milliseconds). The scoreboard also indicates whether a player is dead, carrying the bomb (on bomb maps), or is the VIP (on assassination maps), although information on players on the opposing team is hidden from a player until his/her death, as this information can be important.

Killed players become "spectators" for the duration of the round; they cannot change their names until they spawn (come alive) again, text chat cannot be sent to or received from live players; and voice chat can only be received from live players and not sent to them (unless the cvar sv_alltalk is set to 1). Spectators are generally able to watch the rest of the round from multiple selectable views, although some servers disable some of these views to prevent dead players from relaying information about living players to their teammates through alternative media (most notably voice in the case of Internet cafes and Voice over IP programs such as TeamSpeak or Ventrilo). This technique is known as "ghosting".


Counter Strike is famous for the culture surrounding it, which includes everything from professional gamers and leagues, to excessive cheating and disruptive behavior. Certain professional teams (such as SK Gaming, alternate aTTaX, Team-Avtomat Kalashnikov, mousesports and fnatic) have come to earn a living out of it, while other clans and community based groups neither lose nor earn money via member donations which are self sustaining in return for administrator rights in servers involved in the community.


Counter-Strike remains extremely popular to this day. There are currently professional online leagues supporting Counter-Strike, such as the Cyberathlete Amateur League (CAL), and CyberEvolution, a pay-to-play league. Various LAN tournaments are held throughout the world, with the largest being the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC), the World e-Sports Games (WEG), and the World Cyber Games (WCG). Championship matches in these events are televised with commentary and analysis.

Half-Life and other contemporary games took full advantage of hardware graphics acceleration in the late 1990s, replacing earlier software-rendered games such as Quake. The continued popularity of Counter-Strike has meant that older video cards such as the 3dfx Voodoo3, ATI Rage 128, and Nvidia RIVA TNT2 remain useful.

There have been a multitude of games claimed by their developers, reviewers and fans to be "Counter-Strike killers," but none have seriously been able to dent its overall popularity. Server statistics in 2002 showed that Counter-Strike servers outnumbered their Battlefield, Unreal Tournament 2003 or Quake III first-person shooter counterparts at least 3 to 1.

However, as criticism of Condition Zero showed, the GoldSrc engine has already been surpassed by several generations of newer engines. Even Counter-Strike: Source has been criticized for not progressing the gameplay enough and failing to take full advantage of the Source engine.

Mods and scripts

Though Counter-Strike is itself a mod, it has developed its own community of script writers and mod creators. Some mods add bots, while others remove features of the game, and others create different modes of play. Some of the mods give server administrators more flexible and efficient control over his or her server. "Admin plugins", as they are mostly referred as, have become very popular (see Metamod, AMX Mod and AMX Mod X). There are some mods which affect gameplay heavily, such as Gun Game, where players start with a basic pistol and must score kills to receive better weapons, and Zombie Mod, where one team consists of zombies and must "spread the infection" by killing the other team (using only the knife). There are also the Superhero and Warcraft III mods which mix the first-person gameplay of Counter-Strike with an experience system, allowing a player to become more powerful as they continue to play. There is also a Star Wars mod, where you get a lightsaber instead of a knife, have special abilities according to a starwars character, also receive a rank based on the U.S. military ranks, and the objective is to capture the flags. The game is also highly customizable on the player's end, allowing the user to install or even create their own custom skins, HUDs, sprites, and sound effects, given the proper tools. Also some mods have a feature called rollthedice, where something bad or good happens to you when you type rollthedice.


Counter Strike has been a prime target for exploitation by cheaters since its release. In-game, cheating is often referred to as "hacking" in reference to programs or "hax" executed by the user.

Typical cheats are:

  • Wallhacks, which allow the player to see through walls. These work by altering the display driver to display objects that are normally obscured, or altering game textures to transparent ones. The only objects seen on the hackers screen are those close by. The server will not send you characters of the whole map, so you can not see across the whole map.
  • Speedhacks, which give the player increased speed. These work by sending false synchronization data to servers.
  • No recoil, which keeps the players gun shooting straight on the y axis without a kickback by removing gun physics. No spread is used to make a players gun shoot straight along the x axis.
  • Aimbots, which helps the player aim at enemies. These work by moving the player's view to anticipate an enemy's position.
  • ESP, which shows textual information about the enemy, such as, health, name, and distance, and also information about weapons lying around the map, which could be missed without the hack
  • Barrel hack, which shows a line that depicts where the enemy is looking
  • Anti-flash and anti-smoke, which remove the flashbang and smoke grenade effect. This branched off the wall hack.

Valve has implemented an anti-cheat system called Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC). Players cheating on a VAC enabled server risk having their account permanently banned from all VAC secured servers.

With the first version of VAC a ban took force almost instantly after being detected, and the cheater had to wait 2 years to have the account unbanned. Since VAC's second version, cheaters are not banned automatically. Rather, they are banned according to a delayed banning system, and bans are permanent. Many cheats are still not detected by VAC, and often the only effective anti-cheat solution is a human administrator watching an online game. (Some servers implement a vote system, in which case players can call for a vote to kick or ban the cheater.) VAC, while being effective in some ways, has also provided a boost in the purchasing of private cheats. These cheats are updated frequently, as to prevent detection, and are available to those who pay to use them or to those in the community or clan.


The game faced controversy in April 2007 when lawyer Jack Thompson predicted that the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech Massacre had been trained to kill in the game, well before Seung-Hui Cho (the shooter) was identified. Thompson claimed the game "Drills you and gives you scenarios on how to kill them [and] gets you to kill them with your heart rate lower." Riley Donelan rebutted by saying "How can a game teach you how to lower your heart rate in real life, these claims are ridiculous. It is important to note that Seung-Hui Cho is only supposed to have played it in high school, this information has not been confirmed as it was told by only a few acquaintances from school. Thompson's answer to this was "You don't drop it when you go to college, typically." Also the game does not include tutorials or training missions. Also Jack Thompson has not been able to put forth any solid evidence about his claims. Jack Thompson also blamed Counter-Strike for February 14, 2008 for the Northern Illinois University shooting perpetrated by Steven Kazmierczak.. Thompson claimed in an interview that "You can rehearse these type of massacres on simulators which are called video games and you can...therefore made more proficient in doing this.. He explains that "Counter-Strike Half-Life" was the game Seung-Hui Cho, the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech Massacre trained on in High School, suggesting that the behavior of the NIU shooter had the same sort of training. Thompson went on to say that "In real life, Kazmierczak - who had become "erratic" recently after shunning medication for an undisclosed illness - purchased weapons like those used in Counter-Strike, including a Glock handgun and a pump-action Remington shotgun, which he bought legally on Feb. 9."

On January 17, 2008, a Brazilian federal court order prohibiting all sales of Counter-Strike and Everquest and imposing the immediate withdrawal of these from all stores began to be enforced. The federal Brazilian judge Carlos Alberto Simões de Tomaz, of the Minas Gerais judiciary section, ordered the ban in October 2007 because, according to him, the games "bring immanent stimulus to the subversion of the social order, attempting against the democratic and rightful state and against the public safety".

In popular culture

The ever-growing popularity of Counter-Strike has resulted in the game being referenced and parodied extensively in popular culture.

  • At the 2003 Toy Fair in New York, 12 inch action figures inspired by Counter-Strike were displayed at the In The Past Toys booth. These figures were based on the 1.6 model skins.

Use by the Chinese Government

The Chinese government has used Counter-Strike as a tool for tactical training. .


External links

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