Counter Strike: Source

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.

This and That

I’ve been thinking a lot about Half Life 2 and the Steam delivery system lately. If you haven’t read by now, HL2 is available for order through Valves online delivery system: Steam. Not that you can play it yet, but you can order it. Also, Valve has decided to bundle multiple things under each Steam purchase to entice people to order it through them as apposed to traditional retailers. The upside is that you get more stuff and you get to play Counter Strike: Source now, this second, instead of waiting for the retail box to become available. The downside is that you don’t get it on a CD and, well, you have to download about 4Gs worth of game before you can play it. The retail box does come with CS:Source and the collectors edition comes with a few other things as well, but you’ll have to wait for it to ship. Buying through Steam assures that you can play Counter-Strike instantly as soon as you download it.

Now, there’s quite a large segment of the gaming population that is still, after 5+ years, addicted to Counter-Strike. Given the opportunity to play whats basically CS2 they’ll of course jump on it. I’m sure they’re playing right this second. I on the other hand, have an interesting decision to make. I could care less about CS. It’s a dated game with a dated concept and limited replay and it’s only been made “new” by a face lift and a few level tweaks. Not what I’d consider “revolutionary” by any means. HL2 on the other hand, is what I’m really after. I was saddened to learn that there will be no HL2 multiplayer and that CS was the multiplayer. That was a let down. I can remember plenty of LAN games of HL with my buds. Sure CS was fun, but if you ever got tired of it, you could just open up a can of Snarks and everything would be fun again.

So, what’s a boy to do? Order HL2 through steam or buy it in a box? Play CS now or later? Have a CD or just a download and an authorization key?

I’m opting for a box. I get the CD, which means reinstalls will take minutes instead of hours, and, since I don’t care about CS, I don’t really mind waiting. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, this falls under the “having something to open on Christmas morning” syndrome.

Moving on, let’s talk about the Red Sox. Holy crap is this going to be good. I’m as excited as I’ve ever been. Mostly because this year I’ve been paying attention and I have a full understanding of how deep the Sox bullpen is and how much the Yanks can’t hit off Shilling. You go up two games IN the Bronx, then bring it back home, it’s series time baby. I’m excited.

Locally, the Houston fans are going nuts too. They’re going to have quite a time getting past the Cards but they’re willing to give it a try. Everyone around here is hoping for a Houston-Boston World Series. I have to say I agree. As my dad always says…

I cheer for two teams. The Boston Red Sox, and anyone who isn’t the Yankess.


We’re back…

…too bad our bag didn’t make it back with us. Yup, Southwest lost our luggage. Actually, the asshat that checked us in at the airport in Manchester probably lost it. See, we checked in at the curb in Manchester. Apparently you’re supposed to tip these guys and the guy was visibly pissed when I didn’t. I have no doubt he ripped the tag off our bag and promptly lost it in the nearest dumpster. And you know what, I don’t feel bad about not tipping him. I tip generously EVERYWHERE. I leave 18%+ at restaurants, sometimes more if the service is especially good. This guy did nothing except hand me the boarding pass and he basically sticks his hand out in front of me. Sorry pal, maybe if you had helped me get it out of the car or something.

I digress, I don’t want this to be what I remember from my trip. The vacation itself was excellent. We got to spend time with my family, see their new house, hang out with my friends, visit Boston and everything. Chris and Chip seem to be doing well. Chris is working happily away at his new job and Chip, despite back trouble, is looking better than I’ve ever seen him. It was good to spend time with both of them. I only wish I could have been there longer.

As for my family, their doing well too. My dad has dived into his teaching job full at full throttle and my mom is generally happier with her commute now than in the past. My grandmother is doing well despite the loss of my grandfather and the rest of the family seems to be doing well also.

While I was there I managed to get my brother setup to play BF and DC with me (and if Chip wants to install it again, just name the date and time and I’ll be there to play). I also got a #9 Red Sox hat that I had been looking for as well as a new pair of sneakers.

It was a great trip. It was good to see NH again. To smell that fresh air, to see the leave changing, and to be surrounded by the peace of quiet of the lakes region. Very relaxing.

Ok, well, I’ve got to go home and make a list of items that were in the suitcase. Apparently, the FAA says that the airline is responsible for at most $2500. I doubt my things are worth that, but I don’t intend to get low-balled either. I think $1000 is probably about right, for all my clothes, Laurens clothes, plus our trouble. Sounds good to me.

Matt out.