is one of the most popular online games today, and you can download it for free. Two teams of players duke it out in
a wide variety of real-world inspired environments. One team plays the terrorists, the other team plays the counter-terrorists (i.e. those brave SWAT and other special force guys who go in and save
the day.) Each level has a unique objective, such as defusing a bomb in a missile silo, rescuing hostages from a villa in Italy, or escorting a VIP to the rooftop helipad of a metropolitan skyscraper.
Realistic damage models, a wide array of guns based on real-life weaponry, and team-oriented gameplay make this game incredibly absorbing and addictive. The only downside is that after you get killed, you have to wait for the round to finish, which can often mean several minutes of waiting around watching people finish up the battle while you float around like a ghost. Still, it's not that bad as long as you have something else to do while you wait.
But the best thing about this game is that it's free. Well,
assuming you bought the award-winning game Half-Life at some point.
Originally developed by handful of talented Half-Life fans seeking a realistic counterterrorism mod,
Counter-Strike was developed as a modification for Half-Life. What's a mod, you
ask? Ok, many of you won't ask that, but for those that do, here's the quick version: Many popular video games these days are shipped with development kits that allow ordinary users and fans to
customize the gameplay, graphics and sound, effectively creating new games based on the original game. These new games are called mods, and can take hundreds or even thousands of hours to craft.
Since Counter-Strike has been one of the premier Half-Life mods, Valve and Sierra have decided to release it as a stand-alone title. While you can buy this, as some people have pointed out you can
also just download the mod for free if you have Half-Life already, or pick up a copy of Half-Life on the cheap in the bargain bins.
While I can't rave about this game enough, my usual disclaimer applies:
Counter-Strike contains realistic, graphic violence and I would not personally suggest it for anyone under 17 years of age, because I'm pretty sure it's bad for you and will stunt your growth. For the rest of you,
enjoy. Half-Life: Counter-Strike Modification; Availability: Now; www.counter-strike.net