Well, I’ve done it. I broke down and pre-ordered HL2 through Steam. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m the one that hated Steam. Well, curiosity got the better of me and I have to say that for the most part I’ve very impressed. Having last used Steam two years ago simply as a game update client I thought it was doomed to die a slow, laggy death. They’ve done right and really fixed the major issues it had.

So, immediately after preordering Half Life, all the games that come with it immediately appear in your “my games” section of Steam. From there you can choose what to load/preload, play, etc. I started the HL2 preload as well as the CS:S and DoD preload. I left it all running, went to bed, and when I woke up I had 6Gs worth of stuff on my hard drive and it was telling me CS was ready to play. Shit, I couldn’t resist an invitation like that, so I fired it up.

Let’s get to obvious out of the way. This is NOT Counter Strike 2. It’s simply a rehash of everything from the original, tweaked, and brought into DirectX 9 land. The map layouts are 99% identical. I fired up cs_office and knew right where to go. That doesn’t mean that they’ve left everything as is, just that the “flow” of the levels hasn’t changed. Basically everything got a nice polish and a cleaning and everything that changed engine wise was updated. For example, the glass shattering on Office, the water on Aztec, that sort of thing. Also, as a side note, I don’t know what sort of fetish Valve has developed but everywhere they had blank space they put in oil barrels. There’s hundreds of them, it’s kinda weird.

Anyways, I figured you guys might like some screen-shots, so I fired it up for a few quick minutes here on my “fast as heck” work machine. If I’m going to show you screen-shots, they might as well be nice ones, right? The descriptions precede the image link. I’m too lazy to make thumbnails, sorry.

CS Havana:

Cool street lighting effects – Image
Same – Image
Sunlight effect on center courtyard – Image
Glass window effect, no longer shatters as a “sheet” of glass – Image
Same glass, shot again, not how “pieces” break off – Image
Ooops… umm, showing the “physics”, yeah, that’s it… – Image

DE Aztec:
CT start area facelift – Image
Everyones favorite bridge (notice the water below) – Image
Site “B” is a bit prettier – Image
I like the new C4 model – Image
My favorite CS gun, the “commando” and all the realistic bullet holes it makes – Image

DE Cobble:
T start area, a bit updated – Image
I like what they’ve done with the place – Image
Area “A”, same improvements – Image
Area “B”, same thing – Image

DE Chateau:
T start area, nice water and grass – Image
On the way to site “A”, damn nice looking water – Image

DE Dust 2:
T start area. Look, stuff in the distance! *gasp* – Image
Interior hallway, notice the “light particles” and floor shine. Spiffy! – Image
Some things don’t change much – Image
Tunnel view – Image
Apparently Dust is in the ghetto – Image

Thats about it guys. Hope you liked those. I don’t really see CS pulling me away from DC, especially not with DC Final being out now, but it will be a welcome break and a trip down memory lane. I can only hope they do an equally nice polish on Day of Defeat. With all those water effects and smoke effects in the engine, they could really make DoD look sweet. We’ll have to wait and see. DoD:S should be out before Christmas but after the launch of HL2. I can’t wait. November 16th is just around the corner, and I have 5Gs of HL2 on my harddrive. It’s taunting me.

Matt out.