Monday, August 23, 2004

You got a CS Source! "doo-dee-doo!"

Seeing as I own the ATI Radeon coupon that is getting my Half Life 2 for free, I also got into the beta for a little game known as Counter Strike Source. Apparently this is the same Counter Strike gamers have been addicted to for the past 4 years, strapped into the same engine used to make the stunning Half Life 2. Having been in the beta for a week now, I have to say. I am not disappointed.

I noted how much the main menu resembled that of Counter Strike, except for the background art which is really nicely done. Anyway, I decided to make my own server so I can try out the physics on my own before I dove headfirst into the action. Spawning in my little Counter-Terrorist camp, I accidently skipped the buy menu as my fingers lashed the keyboard like a medievil slave driver, flustered by the shocking minute and half load time (I'm an impatient man), leaving me with just a pistol. I walked around until I found some barrels, and upon firing they actually toppled over and rulled a bit. I then noted a bunch of old tins cans an discarded milk cartons littering the dusty grounds of de_dust. Shooting a tin can sends the little bugger rocketing off to the far corners of the map, while milk jugs and buckets will bounce considerably less due to their weight. I also noted the appearence of crates, old car parts, and cinder blocks. Another cool random object I noted was the empty liqour bottle, which when shot actually shattered into several pieces that would fly out and bounce along the ground til they came to a stop. I also duely noted that weapons dropped on the ground will react full when shot, skidding across the ground like an SUV on a slightly moist highway in April.

After an hour or so of running around, shooting my foot, the idea came to mind that I might want to try this game with other people. Absurd as the idea is, playing Counter Strike online, I went for it. Keep in mind this all happened in the first hours after the beta first opened, and every CS Nerd in the western hemisphere had logged in to play, most certainly stretching Valves servers to full capacity. The pings of these servers blew past "bad" and into "compeltely absurd." You were lucky to get into a server with a ping under 900, and I saw some servers with pings reaching into the 2100's. For the not so net savvy of us, the lower the number of the ping, the faster the connection.

Entering the game, I quickly bought my weapon and set forth. The first thing I noticed as I started my first match was that the buy menu is pretty much the same, save for some larger icons. No new weapons or changed prices. In fact, the only change they made at all to the equipment in CS Source is that they finally got rid of the god-awful shields Counter-Terrorists use oh too much. As I moved into battle, I quickly noted that the recoild in many weapons has been lessened considerably, making combat a little easier. I also noted the new effects of the three grenades. The HE Grenade still does a basic damaging explosion, but when close enough it causes an effect where your characters ears ring loudly. Same with the Flashbang, which now not only blinds you with a flash of light, but also proceeds to burn an afterimage of the last thing you were looking at just before the flash went off. The smoke grenade has been updated as well, instead of a big puff of smoke it now makes a purpl-ish shade of smoke that billows out, and at first glance you can see right through it, but as you enter the smoke cloud your visisbility quickly drops to "half a millimeter from the tip of your nose." Nice....

The bodies do respond to the physics in a nice realistic manner. Shot on the stairs, your body will fall and slump along them. Standing on a crate or an object when shot will cause your body to drop and roll off the side of the object, depending on where you were standing on it of course. Bodies will slump against walls and hang off stuff, and can be manipulated by being shot, or thrown about like dolls when a grenade is dropped close to them. I did note, however, that sometimes when a body falls that the arms and legs act like the joints just gave out for no reason, as if a shot to the foot causes complete loss of ligament control during death. In regular CS, you would only drop the weapon you were using at the moment you died, and the same holds true here, except now if your holding euipment like grenades or bomb defusal kits, they will also drop to the floor and can be picked up by any curious passerby (except terrorists can't pick up the bomb kits of course.)

The models are very nicely done, although as of now only one model per team has been implemented. The terrorist models kinda look more like disgruntled postman than international martyrs of uncivil disobediance, but whose gonna question any man pointing an AK-43 down your neck? The clothing actually appears to cover models in layers, as do real clothes. You also can see kevlar and helmets on player models, although they still appear even if you aren't wearing kevlar or a helmet.

The bomb has also been updated nicely. It looks now like a stack of small books with a flat alarm clock tied to a hard drive duct taped on. But there is a nice effect now when you are planting it, your character will push buttons on the bombs console, and numbers will appear as you type. As a counter-terrorist, the numbers will slowly appear one by one on the bomb as you defuse it. A little bomb icon will also appear on the bottom of your screen, flashing as the bomb does, to give you a better idea of how long you have until it blows. The blast radius is much bigger now, and even if your a good 100 feet form teh bomb it'll still do a good amount of damage, moreso if the blast tosess a barrel your way. The explosion of the bomb, like in the first CS, is not quite as gratifying as it looks like it should be. only physics objects like barrels and bottles and such are thrown around in the blast, other objects that you'd think would get blown around like wooden crates or whicker baskets are mysteriously untouched by the huge firey explosion enveloping them. All in all Counter Strike Source is well worth the download time, and I am looking forward to its final release with all the maps (rght now you can only play in de_dust and the hardware_test map from the E3 2003 demo).

Also to be noted today begins the pre-loading of Half Life 2 for steam users like me. I'm not entirely sure what this pre-load will bring, wether it is just a package to make the actual game download easier or what, but I do know it is coming sometime today and I'll be ready for it.

And on another side note, I'll be starting school again tomorrow, so there....If your ever on CS: Source, regular CS, Day of defeat, Battlefield Vietnam, or what have you, look for a player named Drakk or Drakkel or Drakkelian, and you'll know it is me in all my loser/gamer glory.

Drakk Out