When we published the Half-Life episode at the start of season two, I was genuinely shocked by how many comments there were from people who had never played either game in the series. I imagined a lot of folks would have been too young to play the first game (in fairness I almost was), but it felt like only a few years since Half-Life 2 came out. I hadn't considered that seven years ago, today's 18-year-old gamers were only 11.
Being a mod of Half-Life, Counter-Strike has a similar release history, and since it's an online-only game with a fairly high skill barrier to entry, I can only imagine a lot more people have never played it. Even so, its impression on multiplayer gaming cannot be understated. It was once the premier online first-person shooter in both amateur and professional circles, and though the genre has changed since its rebirth in 2004, it's still among the highest-regarded competitive games ever made.
I've always been a massive fan of the series, spending weekday evenings locked away trying to nail headshots on a 56K modem. My friends and I even made this horrifically low-budget Counter-Strike movie using a handycam and a bunch of cheap army store gear. During college I'd spend countless hours of studying time playing Counter-Strike: Source with my classmates, and even now, after a long day's editing, I frequently boot up Steam on my office Mac and work on my kill/death ratio.
Counter-Strike's history hasn't been smooth for Valve, though, with a sequel that split the community and relaunches that never saw the light of day. With many complaining of stagnation in the online shooter genre, and Valve eyeing up the world of e-sports, this year's sequel Global Offensive really will be hit or miss. In any case, I hope this episode encourages a few rookies to spawn in this week, and perhaps some returning veterans too.