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SummaryA paradox in entertainment.
The GoodIf you've never heard of Counter-Strike, well, I'd like to meet you, shake your hand, give you a hug and move to whatever cave you've been living in all your life. The fact is, Counter-Strike is the most played game on the Internet, it is probably the most well-known game, and it is, in a word, a phenomenon. At any given time there is around 20,000 servers up and running with a good twenty-or-so people in most of them. Everquest can't even compete with those numbers.
Counter-Strike is a perfect game, really. It is an arcade shooter with "one-hit kill" realism, which makes for fast games and can rely heavily on team strategies to accomplish. There is enough realism in this game in which your life does amount to something (this isn't Quake where you can take forty hits, possibly die, and just come back to get revenge) but arcade enough to keep everyone entertained. There aren't many maps that get played, just a select few really, but that's fine because these maps have everything you'd want in them. There are different game modes which keep things interesting. Basically, there is enough in this game to keep you entertained for thirty hours at a time.
But let's face it, folks. The real entertainment in this game doesn't come from the gameplay, nor does it come from the game modes, weapons, arcade gameplay or realism. It comes from the players themselves, and therein lies the paradox...
The Bad...because it is the people that make up this game, and it is the people that also destroy it. This is not a game for the intelligent -- this isn't a game for the remotely conscious, the people who are only half in-touch with reality. This is a game for idiots and homophobic thirteen year old wiggers. Every laughable thing you've heard about the populace of Counter-Strike is indeed, true. Let me tell you a story.
I knew what Counter-Strike was. I remember playing it while it was in beta, but that was brief and was no good because I was on dial-up at the time. Any gaming forum I visited would always have some sort of Counter-Strike thread, whether it was to admire it or make fun of it. I've seen screenshots, I've heard stories, and all the while I could only think that this was exceptions. People aren't that stupid, people aren't that...that way. These were just exceptions. But somewhat recently I finally decided to give Counter-Strike a shot. After all, the most popular game on the planet must be entertaining, right? Well, the game is, but sadly, the people ruin it.
I don't think I could even give an example here. I admire Mobygames for their ease on censorship, but surely even they have their limits and were I to quote a single line from any Counter-Strike dialogue I don't think this review would get approved. To put it bluntly, this game hosts the most vulgar, most disgusting, most hope-depleting band of people that until recently, I thought were just a myth.
But can it still be fun? Oh, surely, it can. If you can turn off the chat, if can be fun. If you can turn off the voice chat so you don't have to listen to some prepubescent eleven year old kid call you "faggot" and "wallhacker" every time you get a kill, if can be fun. Or even better, if you play on a private server with people you know, it can be fun. Or, if you just want to laugh at horrible decay of our youth's intelligence, it can be fun.
Or if you're just an eleven year old racist homophobic wigger...it can be fun.
The Bottom LineA phenomenon in multiplayer gaming, Counter-Strike is a paradox in entertainment. On one hand, you have a perfect combination of realism and arcade with strategies and team-tactics thrown in...and on the other hand, you have proof that a good percentage of the human race ought to be launched into the sun. There are ways to enjoy the game if you're not a complete moron, still.
And there is such satisfaction from knifing one of those jerks from behind.