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Counter - Stike


Half-Life: Counter-Strike is one of the most unusual PC game releases in months. The hugely popular mod for Valve Software's Half-Life has been available for free download for well over a year, and you can still download it for free off the Internet now that it's been through beta testing and has reached version 1.0. And if you don't have the exceptional Half-Life, the new retail edition of Counter-Strike is a chance to get a stand-alone version of this outstanding multiplayer mod. The retail package also includes stand-alone versions of other multiplayer mods and game modes that normally require Half-Life, the best of which are also available free off the Internet: Team Fortress Classic, Opposing Force Multiplayer, Firearms, Redemption, Ricochet, and Wanted. Counter-Strike itself is a superb game that fully deserves top billing in this release.

Counter-Strike divides players into teams of terrorists and counterterrorists in four game modes: rescue/hold hostages, bomb target/defuse bomb, escape from/guard an area, and assassinate/guard a VIP. None of these ideas are particularly original, but they're well implemented, and they strike an effective balance between realistic stealth and frenzied action. The thematically varied maps maximize tactical possibilities with alternate routes, multiple levels, and abundant cover. Games are played in short rounds, and when you're killed, you sit out the round as an invisible observer; there are no deathmatch-style respawns. This creates a strong social aspect, because with "dead" players chatting, there can be an enormous sense of tension for the remaining players stalking each other. Another big impetus to stay alive is that the more successful you and your team are each round, the more money you earn for buying bigger and better weapons. Unfortunately this can lead to a huge imbalance in firepower when one team wins a few consecutive rounds.

One of Counter-Strike's biggest appeals has always been the selection of weapons. In addition to a knife and assorted grenades, there's a wide variety of accurately modeled pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, and sniper rifles. Three new weapons have been added to version 1.0: the H&K UMP .45, FN Five-Seven, and the SIG SG-550, though the retail version of the game uses invented names for all weapons.

Each weapon has unique characteristics, so mastering them all and learning which is best for different situations is a lot of fun, and it adds replay value. For instance, high-caliber weapons can penetrate thin walls and doors, which makes lugging a heavy belt-fed machine gun worthwhile when the enemy has been doing more hiding than fighting. Guns also have varied kicks, which makes full automatic fire a "spray and pray" affair - as in real life, short, controlled bursts are best for accurate fire. Effective weapon ranges are well simulated, so shotguns are brutal in close quarters and useless in large open spaces. Location-specific damage modeling means that shots to the head are more likely to get an instant kill.

Another part of the weaponry's appeal is the superlative sound effects. The guns sound remarkably realistic and powerful, which makes them viscerally fun to shoot. Equal care is given to other game sounds, like explosions, injuries from weapons or falling, glass shattering, and so on. Another good feature is the various audio messages you can send to teammates. They cover a whole range of warnings, status reports, and requests for backup. The only problem is that they all use the same voice, regardless of your team.

The Half-Life graphics engine may be dated now, but Counter-Strike has always used it to its fullest potential. The maps are visually appealing, and they have imaginative texturing and dramatic (though sometimes too dark) lighting effects. The updated character models in version 1.0 now use Valve's model-blending technology, along with even better skins than in the past, which makes for great-looking player graphics. Best of all are the firearm models and skins, which are some of the best you'll find in any shooter.

Counter-Strike is an online-only game that has experienced the mixed blessing of its immense popularity. You're guaranteed to find plenty of available game sessions online at any hour. However, cheating and even verbal abuse have long marred the gameplay in Counter-Strike. The game is not in any way newbie-friendly, despite the inclusion of a simple offline tutorial. You'll have to leave your ego at the door when you encounter the countless veteran players you'll face online. Fortunately, the abundance of experienced players means you can quickly learn the tricks of the trade through observation. It should also be noted that while Counter-Strike does require tactical thinking and teamwork, it's still a fast-paced shooter at its core. So not only are lightning-fast reflexes necessary to excel, but so are a fast connection and a low ping.

Still, despite its weaknesses, Counter-Strike is undeniably influential, and has already helped inspire countless similar mods and games. It's easy to see why: Counter-Strike has a simple yet effective design that's brought to life with superior maps and vivid graphics and sound. The end result is utterly exciting and addictive. Counter-Strike is a model of its kind and a thrilling action game.



Half - Life 2


It's hard to believe that, prior to Half-Life 2, Valve had really made only one game. Of course, it was a masterpiece. Half-Life single-handedly reinvented the first-person shooter, putting the emphasis on cinematic pacing and complete immersion in the experience. As a result, it paved the way for many of the outstanding first-person shooters that have followed. And while there was little question that there would eventually be a sequel, no one could have imagined the long and torturous development process that led to Half-Life 2. Well, it's time to forget about that, because Half-Life 2 has arrived. And, in many ways, this big-budget sequel does what it sets out to do: Half-Life 2 is a technically amazing, sharply honed first-person shooter that pulls all the tricks that made Half-Life such a beloved experience. With that said, many of those tricks feel more than a bit familiar now, and the game itself is saddled with a disappointing story. Still, that doesn't stop Half-Life 2 from being a very impressive and engaging shooter, and a faithful follow-up to one of the greatest PC games of all time.
Obrazek


 

 

 

 



In Half-Life 2, you once again assume the role of Gordon Freeman, the theoretical physicist and dimension-hopping commando who saved the world from an alien invasion at the end of Half-Life. Or did he? Half-Life 2 starts you off facing the infamous G-Man, the mysterious blue-suited character from the first game. At the end of Half-Life, the G-Man offered you a choice: work for him or die. Since there would be no sequel if you chose the latter, Half-Life 2 assumes you chose the former, and you start the game in a train entering City 17 for your introduction into this new world.

City 17 is a run-down urban center that's the equivalent of the Warsaw ghettos during World War II, but instead of Jews being rounded up to live in City 17, it's all the remnants of a defeated humanity. Half-Life 2 takes place an untold number of years after the Black Mesa incident, but it's clear that much has changed. A mysterious enemy known as the Combine has conquered the planet and installed a human puppet government to carry out its rule. Black-clad security forces patrol the streets, while propaganda blares endlessly from omnipresent video screens. If there's one thing that Valve does extremely well, it's capture a sense of atmosphere--this vision of a dystopian police state is chillingly effective. But you won't spend a lot of time soaking in the scene before you're thrust into the struggle to defeat the Combine and free humanity.

As soon as the shooting begins you'll join an essentially nonstop battle that will last the remainder of the game. Like the original Half-Life, Half-Life 2 is presented as a nearly seamless experience--you play entirely from Gordon Freeman's perspective, there are no cutscenes or perspective changes to take you out of the moment, and are there no narrative jumps that skip ahead in time. (At least, there are none from your perspective.) There also aren't very many long loading times to interrupt the flow of the game, as all the levels are discreetly broken into sections, and when you transition from one section to another, there's only a slight pause for the new section to load (at least, on a high-end PC). Put it all together and the game's single-player campaign, which will probably take you between 15 and 20 hours to complete, comes off as a very long day in the extraordinary life of Gordon Freeman.
Obrazek

 

 






The original Half-Life was highly cinematic in nature, the virtual equivalent of starring in your own blockbuster sci-fi action movie. Who could ever forget the first time a headcrab leapt out at you from a dark corner? Or the moment when the commando tossed a satchel charge into the sewer pipe you were hiding in? The movie analogy is apt, not only because Half-Life 2 packs a few cinematic moments of its own, but also because, like most movie sequels, it plays it safe and doesn't deviate much from its storied predecessor. Half-Life 2 doesn't revolutionize the genre, instead sticking with the familiar formula of run-and-gun action, occasional puzzle-solving, and scripted sequences established by Half-Life. And it's an effective formula, for the most part. The game gets off to a rousing start, as the opening levels combine these three ingredients masterfully. You start off on the lam from the Combine, armed with only a pistol and your wits, and embark on a chase through a train yard and tunnel system that's filled with all sorts of hairbreadth escapes. The sense of pursuit hurtles you forward so quickly that you don't have much time to admire the cutting-edge graphical prowess on display.