Reviews From The Backroom: Counter Strike Condition Zero - Deleted Scenes
Counter Strike is, beyond any possible doubt, the definitive Online Shooter for the P.C. gamer. Ever since its release in 1999, it has proved to be the most widely played online shooter, with 95,000 running servers and 5.194 Billion individual players on record as having picked it up and jumped into the foray. The basic formula is simple, yet it allows for wide ranges of strategy. The interface is flexible, yet easy to use. Even with the heavily criticized issues with balance, it remains easily playable for both beginner and pro.
In 2004, Counter Strike: Condition Zero was released, featuring a minor graphical update along with an offline single player feature. The single player feature focused mainly on emulating online play by giving the player a choice of bots, maps, and special goals to achieve for each area that was required to play through. While it may not have been worth a large sticker price, it was still Counter Strike formula, and it worked well enough.
Taking this game seriously is nigh impossible.
But, in a most unfortunate move, Valve also decided to include a canceled single player campaign with Condition Zero that was made by Ritual Entertainment, dubbed Counter Strike Condition Zero - Deleted scenes.
At its core, Deleted Scenes is a typical Counter Strike game. It has all of the same weapons from the previous installments, with a few thrown in to help add variety to the enemies. It takes advantage of all of the different tactics and tricks that have been used in Counter-Strike at some point, and many of the goals involved in the different campaign levels utilize the standard game-play of a typical Online match.
But, it's beyond that established core that the cracks start to appear.
Game-play in Deleted Scenes revolves around the player taking on the role of a person in different Military and Police roles across the world. Many of these campaigns are rather imaginative and unique, such as the mission where you play a member of the German Special Forces trying to save a group of kidnapped tourists in the Philippines; or the mission that has you taking on the role of a Japanese Kidotai attempting to rescue hostages during a terrorist attack in the subways.
The different missions use different gameplay techniques, with some utilizing stealth aspects and others requiring the player to perform rescues or solve puzzles. Truly, there was a lot of things going for this game, and there was more than enough material included to make it a really impressive campaign. Unfortunately, this is also the point that sticks out the most when you start to look at the flaws.
Bullet sponges. Racially insensitive bullet sponges.
While the developers may have had the level details and basic game-play mechanics down, any semblance of variety is pretty much non-existent. Even with some of the levels incorporating stealth aspects or puzzles, most of the players time will be spent running through bland environments and hallways shooting at the massive amounts of enemies that show up to soak up bullets.
And when it DOES come down to puzzles and stealth, disappointment is the order of the day. Everything involved in a stealth sequence is scripted about as heavily as a Broadway production. Everything becomes so predictable that anybody who observes the enemy for more that 10 seconds will be able to walk right past them. Even if the enemy does spot them, the "You've Been Caught" condition is extremely laughable: get out of the enemies plain sight within 2 seconds of being spotted, and you don't even exist. You could perform song and dance in front of these guards, and they'll all come to the conclusion that you're probably just a bunch of rats running around if you get out of sight fast enough.
As for the puzzle aspect of the gameplay, it might as well not be there. Many of the puzzles involve either little to no challenge, or are so poorly implemented that they are frustrating and seemingly broken. For instance, while you may spend one mission breezing through crate-pushing and explosive-placing, the next mission may have a puzzle that involves navigation through a small area filled with switches and moving platforms that'll cost you a good hour of play just trying to figure out what the hell everything does.
They'd help you during the game, but Friendly A.I. is a bitch to code.
But Counter-strike isn't about puzzles or being sneaky. It's about the guns and bullets, the impossible odds, the grenades flying everywhere! THIS is what makes this game a disappointment in every aspect. With the added game-play mechanics feeling shoddy, you'd expect great combat, but between the enemy A.I. and the overall lack of variety, Deleted Scenes ends up being one massive grind. Enemies, whether they are holding a gun, swinging a machete, or running around hilariously covered in explosives, will all run up to you prior to attacking. Even with their gun-barrels shoved up your left nostril, most of their shots will miss. When the A.I. attempts to be clever, it just come off as sad and pathetic.
The only aspect that Deleted Scenes even got close to getting right was the presentation. While it's obvious that more heavy-handed pre-scripting was all that was involved in giving the active cut-scenes depth, the finished product gives the impression that too much time was spent cleaning up the action, and not in fleshing out the game-play. Guards walk around and converse with each other, hostages are hauled out of a bank and shot in front of onlooking S.W.A.T. teams, subway trains are raided by terrorists, etc. It gives each mission a solid opening act, and each is truly a sight to behold for a game made with the GoldSource engine, but it all just ends up being tinsel on a box of dirt.
Deleted Scenes may just be one of the most unfortunate games I've played. It has many a moment where you can get a small glimpse of just how polished and deep it could have been, but the majority of the game that actually involves the player is just one big disappointment caused by shoddy implementation and poorly done game-play.
Interesting, yes. But don't waste your time or money on this one.
If you enjoyed this review, please tell me! And if you have any suggestions for future games to get for my back-room, let me know!