Counter-Strike 1.6 has become the mainstay, the perennial and prominent cornerstone of multiplayer gaming; the blend of quick-drawing shooting action, team-oriented tactics and good ol' fashion fun was a winning formula. The game began life as a mod for critically lauded first-person shooter Half-Life, and has evolved into a phenomenon. Counter-Strike Source is a graphically-overhauled remake of the original, and despite the claims of some hardcore 1.6 and Condition Zero aficionados, captures the spirit of its forerunner.
The game at its core is a team-based shooter that pits one side (the terrorists) against a second team of opponents (the counter-terrorists). The objective varies, however the most common game type involves the Terrorists attempting to plant and detonate a bomb, while the CT's goal is to prevent this from coming to fruition. The real meat of the game is in the tactics - this is no Unreal Tournament, and in order to out-wit, out-gun and out-kill your foes, you'll need to coordinate strategies with other players on your team. This is achieved through a variety of communication tools - whether it be the pre-generated voice commands (such as "Get outta there, shes gonna blow!"), real-time voice communication or text chat.
The arsenal at your disposal is quite formidable - all manner of automatic rifle, sub machine gun, pistol and shotgun, each with differing attributes and each catered to different circumstances. Flashbangs allow you to momentarily blind your opponent so that your mates can get the one-up on them, frag grenades allow you to dispatch unsuspecting enemies from afar. Armor protects you from a substantial amount of damage, however little help it may yield you when a desert eagle round rattles against your skull. All of these goodies can be purchased from within the equipment screen that one can bring up before the round begins, and all are purchased for a price relative to their potency - players are awarded lumps of cash for their battle valour, the efforts of their teammates, and even just for participating. This clues into the unique economic dynamic of equipping your character - you have to balance your loadout so that you have the equipment you need and the weapons you want, with a little left over for next round. Super-powerful weapons cost super amounts of dosh, so you may have to go out on a limb and splurge if you want to dominate a particular round with the Magnum sniper rifle.
Counter-Strike: Source is a tactically rich, incredibly deep and justifiably popular multiplayer first-person shooter that balances team dynamics with classic gunplay, and is well worth the purchase.