Image Courtesy: Valve

Counter-Strike turns 25

Happy birthday Counter-Strike

Counter-Strike has completed 25 years in the market as of today. The tactical shooter has stood the test of time with many games trying to imitate the core-CS mechanics. At its core, Counter-Strike is a simple game - two teams, two sites, and a mission to either secure a bomb plant or rescue a hostage but despite its rudimentary premise, the game boasts an insanely high skill ceiling that kept players engaged for hours on end.

In June 1999, a half-mod introducing gunplay marked the beginning of Counter-Strike. Valve noticed the community's interest towards the concept and were quick to realize it's potential. Counter-Strike 1.6 or CS 1.6, was released in 2003 as the successor of the original Counter-Strike. CS 1.6 brought several new weapons, improved graphics, and gameplay mechanics, as well as added new maps like de_tuscan while modifying the existing ones.

A year later in 2004 Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was released with the help of Turtle Rock Studios which received mixed reviews due to its lackluster single-player mode and similarity to the original game. Despite some new features, it was not as successful or well-received as other games in the Counter-Strike franchise.

In the same year Counter-Strike: Source came out with significant upgrades to graphics, physics, and sound effects. Using the Source game engine which was brand new at the time, the game introduced more realistic player and weapon models, better lighting effects, and more detailed environments.

CS:GO's release in 2012 marked the first major Counter-Strike release in eight years. The early days of CS:GO was plagued with community backlash and bugs that rendered the game to a near-unplayable state. Evolving with time, the game became a major esports title, with professional teams and players competing for large prize pools in tournaments around the world.

Despite initial issues with server stability and matchmaking, CS:GO remained one of the most popular and enduring first-person shooter games of all time, with a dedicated community of players and fans breaking activity records and peaks almost everyday during its 11-years run.

Counter-Strike 2 was one of the most anticipated Counter-Strike iterations. 11 years had gone by without a new Counter-Strike game when Valve announced CS2 in March 2023. The game boasted revamped maps, improved lighting and modifications to smoke grenades, among other changes. The game also featured a new sub-tick server system, enhancing gameplay for players. Valve did not market Counter-Strike 2 as a brand new game but just a free upgrade to the already existing game - CS:GO.

Counter-Strike 2 seems to be running CS:GO's course with its early issues and bugs. Many pros have even claimed that the movement and core mechanics doesn't feel like an authentic Counter-Strike title. Valve seems to be taking things one step at a time deploying improvements update by update. The pro scene continues to grow with high-profile organizers like BLAST and ESL consistently hosting full-house LANs.

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