Counter-Strike

Photo by Jo o Ferreira, click for source.

For as long as CS:GO has existed as an esport, North American teams have played the role of the underdogs, perpetually overshadowed by European—and recently, Brazilian—squads who always end up taking home the hardware at the big tournaments. Since the advent of the Valve-supported Major tournaments in 2013, no North American team has ever won one; today, at the penultimate day of ELEAGUE Boston Major 2018, the Americans of Cloud9 have brought themselves tantalizingly close to ending that drought.

After a rocky start in the group stages, Cloud9 fought their way back into contention with a convincing 2-0 win over the French squad of G2 Esports. The vagaries of the tournament bracket meant that this victory set them on a collision course with CS:GO’s current team to beat, the top-ranked Brazilians of SK Gaming. Riding a wave of momentum, and with the hometown crowd cheering their countrymen on, Cloud9 nonetheless entered their semi-final match as the heavy underdog.

As soon as the first map got underway, it was clear that it was time to throw rational predictions out the window. A series of incredibly well-executed rounds and some huge individual plays led Cloud9 to a crushing 16-3 victory to start things off, shocking the analyst desk and driving the crown into a frenzy. Despite the second map not going quite as well, resulting in a 16-8 victory for SK Gaming, Cloud9’s momentum appeared unbreakable, and they rallied to win 16-9 on the third map to clinch their berth in the tournament’s grand finals.

This outcome marks only the second time a North American team has managed to make it into the finals of a Major, after Team Liquid reached (and subsequently lost) the finals of ESL One Cologne back in 2016. If they pull off a win tomorrow against the formidable opposition of FaZe Clan, they will make CS:GO history, and perhaps begin to turn the reputation of American Counter-Strike around.

They’ll also have faced one of the toughest roads to victory of any Major-winning team in recent memory, due to their lacklustre performance in the group stages putting them in a very tough bracket position. Making their way through G2 Esports, SK Gaming and FaZe Clan, the fourth, first, and second best CS:GO teams in the world respectively, is a feat that will finally put to bed any question about Cloud9’s legitimacy as a top-tier team on the world stage.You can catch the grand finals at 11:00am PST on Sunday morning on ELEAGUE’s Twitch channel.

Counter-Strike

Image by DoctorRed2000 on DeviantArt

For the last few days, Valve has been teasing the release of a revamped version of venerated Counter-Strike map Dust 2, and yesterday they spilled the full beans on the new facelift. Valve's been refreshing old Counter-Strike maps for a while now, in an attempt to keep CS:GO looking as modern as possible, but messing with Dust 2 is a bit more of a risky proposition than modifying less-played maps like Train.

The more beloved a map is, the larger the potential backlash will be. Dust 2 has been a staple of competitive play for over 15 years, and was far and away the most played map in the game until its removal from the active map pool back in February. 

It's not surprising, then, that Valve's rework is so conservative. While all the assets have been replaced with higher-res, higher-poly ones, achieving the goal of bringing the map in line with modern graphical expectations, changes to the way the map plays are modest. 

The biggest change is to the visual clarity, which has been improved across the map. Most of the dark or busy looking areas that allowed players to blend in with their surroundings have been illuminated: the tunnels leading to B are much brighter thanks to a new open ceiling, and a lot of the crates throughout the map have been draped in white cloth to better contrast with player models. Bombsite A benefits from the deletion of the busy-looking doors at the back of A long, and some cleanup of the wall decoration along catwalk. These are bound to be uncontroversial changes, and are in line with what Valve has been doing with the other map facelifts.

There’s also been some common sense cleanup work that probably should’ve happened years ago. Stuff like widening the window from CT spawn into B site, and simplifying the scaffolding near CT-side mid doors, feels like pretty basic quality-of-life improvements that will prevent newer players from getting stuck on weird geometry or having their shots glance off of random pipes.

What impact will these changes have?

In the coming weeks we’ll get a better idea of the full ramifications of this update. A couple things to keep an eye on will be whether the new single car on A long (which replaces a pair of cars that were at odd angles in the map’s previous version) will actually be useful as cover now, and whether the increase in room to maneuver behind B site’s car will increase its viability as a hold point for CTs.

It s a healthy overhaul that makes some modest but interesting changes without reinventing the wheel.

There are also some subtle changes that may not even be intentional, and may or may not have a substantial impact on gameplay. Foremost among these is a problem we’ve seen already on some of the other modernized maps, but doesn’t seem to have caused enough of a ruckus to attract Valve’s notice: almost every previously-flat surface is now slightly bumpy (presumably for visual fidelity reasons), which affects the way grenades bounce off of floors and walls. Given how big of a deal smoke and flash placement is in CS, this may prove to be problematic in the long term, as it’s going to reduce the accuracy with which banked grenades can be placed.

Also on the topic of small, maybe-unintentional changes, the spawn locations have shifted slightly. A helpful redditor has pointed out after exploring the map that counter-terrorists can now get to their side of A long a full two seconds before terrorists can get to theirs, which may impact which corners CT players choose to hold, and which angles T players choose to peek from. Again, these are the kind of changes that will require some time to shake out, and we won’t know the full effect of this stuff until the competitive meta has fully adapted, which may take even longer than usual given there's a decade-plus of habits to unlearn.

But Valve seems to have struck a good balance with this update. It’s a healthy overhaul that makes some modest but interesting changes without reinventing the wheel. From a purely visual perspective, the new Dust 2 is beautiful, and undeniably an upgrade from the previous iteration. The terrorists have also gotten new higher-fidelity player models as part of the deal, and they’re a big improvement over the dated look of the existing models. (Puzzlingly, the CT models have not gotten the same treatment thus far.)

There are of course a host of bugs related to the new geometry, allowing for all manner of unintentional boost spots and weird clipping, but this has always been the case with these big map refreshes, and generally they get fixed in a fairly timely manner. Once these issues are addressed, we should expect to see Dust 2 re-added to the Active Duty map pool (possibly at the expense of Cobblestone) and the tournament circuit will quickly demonstrate what effect, if any, the update will have on the way Counter-Strike’s most iconic map is played.

Counter-Strike - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Though Half-Life [official site] is almost nineteen years old and its sanctioned fan remake Black Mesa is nearing completion, Valve have launched a wee patch for their pretty okay or whatever vintage FPS. The patch fixes a few crashes and exploits, and hit other Half-Life engine games too, such as classic Counter-Strike. Given how much of modern PC games history connects to Half-Life and its mod scene, I’m glad Valve are still tinkering a little. Earlier this year, they finally got Half-Life an uncensored release in Germany too. … [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero - alfred
We have updated the public release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.

Changes in this update are:
  • Fixed crash when entering certain malformed strings into the game console. Thanks to Marshal Webb from BackConnect, Inc for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when loading a specially crafted malformed BSP file. Thanks to Grant Hernandez (@Digital_Cold) for reporting this.
  • Fixed malformed SAV files allowing arbitrary files to be written into the game folder. Thanks to Vsevolod Saj for reporting this.
  • Fixed a crash when quickly changing weapons that are consumable. Thanks to Sam Vanheer for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when setting custom decals
Ricochet - alfred
We have updated the public release of Ricochet.

Changes in this update are:
  • Fixed crash when entering certain malformed strings into the game console. Thanks to Marshal Webb from BackConnect, Inc for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when loading a specially crafted malformed BSP file. Thanks to Grant Hernandez (@Digital_Cold) for reporting this.
  • Fixed malformed SAV files allowing arbitrary files to be written into the game folder. Thanks to Vsevolod Saj for reporting this.
  • Fixed a crash when quickly changing weapons that are consumable. Thanks to Sam Vanheer for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when setting custom decals
Deathmatch Classic - alfred
We have updated the public release of Deathmatch Classic.

Changes in this update are:
  • Fixed crash when entering certain malformed strings into the game console. Thanks to Marshal Webb from BackConnect, Inc for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when loading a specially crafted malformed BSP file. Thanks to Grant Hernandez (@Digital_Cold) for reporting this.
  • Fixed malformed SAV files allowing arbitrary files to be written into the game folder. Thanks to Vsevolod Saj for reporting this.
  • Fixed a crash when quickly changing weapons that are consumable. Thanks to Sam Vanheer for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when setting custom decals
Day of Defeat - alfred
We have updated the public release of Day of Defeat.

Changes in this update are:
  • Fixed crash when entering certain malformed strings into the game console. Thanks to Marshal Webb from BackConnect, Inc for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when loading a specially crafted malformed BSP file. Thanks to Grant Hernandez (@Digital_Cold) for reporting this.
  • Fixed malformed SAV files allowing arbitrary files to be written into the game folder. Thanks to Vsevolod Saj for reporting this.
  • Fixed a crash when quickly changing weapons that are consumable. Thanks to Sam Vanheer for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when setting custom decals
Counter-Strike - alfred
Counter-Strike 1.6 update released


We have updated the public release of Counter-Strike 1.6.

Changes in this update are:
  • Fixed crash when entering certain malformed strings into the game console. Thanks to Marshal Webb from BackConnect, Inc for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when loading a specially crafted malformed BSP file. Thanks to Grant Hernandez (@Digital_Cold) for reporting this.
  • Fixed malformed SAV files allowing arbitrary files to be written into the game folder. Thanks to Vsevolod Saj for reporting this.
  • Fixed a crash when quickly changing weapons that are consumable. Thanks to Sam Vanheer for reporting this.
  • Fixed crash when setting custom decals
  • Make sure the Close button has keyboard focus when you see the disconnection dialog
  • Disable showing of popup html windows
  • Made the play command obey speak_enabled cvar
  • Fixed being unable to pickup a primary weapon if you had an ammox box object previously stip you of items
  • Fixed room type not being updated on map change/connect
  • Fixed out of date information showing in the scoreboard after level change or changing servers
  • Fixed the specator UI to not show a placeholder name when initially shown
  • Fixed sprays not loading from the correct path causing them not to update
  • Fixed the Condition Zero tours ui to display the tour number correctly when you have more than 9 entries
  • Fixed crash if you issued a changelevel command on a local server while certain UI elements were visible
Day of Defeat - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brendan Caldwell)

Infamy! Infamy! They ve all got it infamy! is one of the best jokes of all time. It is also what I screamed as I was repeatedly gunned down in World War II shooter Day of Infamy [official site] while playing the early access version.

Fans of murdering me from afar with a scoped rifle will rejoice that the game has just now busted out into a proper release, fully baked and ready to storm some beaches. You can see what kind of terrible conflict you can create in the trailer below. … [visit site to read more]

Counter-Strike - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

I’ve been a member of many games communities over the years – clans, guilds, forums – but the one I remember most fondly was a server.

… [visit site to read more]

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