Counter-strike is a modification for the popular computer game Half-Life. Half-life itself is a stand alone first-person shooter/thinking type game that chronicles Gordon Freeman’s journey out of a catastrophic disaster inside a top secret government laboratory. Counter-strike differs from Half-Life in that it has no story or main game that players attempt to beat.

Instead, it is comprised completely of short rounds of play where two teams attempt to achieve victory. Teams are composed of terrorists and counter-terrorists. Each map/board has a different scenario with different conditions that must be met for either team to attain victory. For example, in some maps, the counter-terrorists must get to hostages and escort them to a designated area without getting killed or by killing all the terrorists. In other levels, the terrorists must place a bomb in a key area without getting killed.

In any case, at the beginning of each round all members of each team have the option to buy weapons, ammunition and equipment with the money that is earned by killing members of the other team, rescuing hostages, and by being on the winning team last round. Guns in Counter-strike are not like most guns in first-person shooters where they fire fast, accurately, and consistently. The guns in Counter-strike are affected by recoil, player movement and general inconsistency severely, such that most must be fired in short, well aimed bursts while moving relatively slowly to achieve any accuracy. This makes the game much more realistic and difficult to master. The number of shots a player can take is extremely low, just as it would be in real life. Head shots kill instantly, body shots kill with four to five, and limb shots take nine to ten. Of course, body armor and the caliber of the bullet fired is also taken into account (ak-47 shot does a whole lot more damage than a pistol and less than a shotgun).

Some strategies for winning are map-based and others are independent. Maps can be extremely complicated and knowing the layout and where people are like to be helps to stay alive on that map. Knowing that if you aim for high center on the torso, you are likely to get a head shot due to recoil does not need a specific map to work.

Most online games fade away eventually due to mass-proliferation of cheating and lack of sufficient gameplay value to hold interest for any longer. Cheating has been dealt with harshly in the Counter-strike community. There are many free utilities that server operators can utilize to prevent cheating on their servers. These utilities are constantly updated to take into account new hacks and cheats so that the cheaters are constantly kept to a minimum. Gameplay is not an issue, either, as each game is different in most respects and games are over quickly and a fresh one starts within five minutes usually. Nobody ever spends too much time waiting for a new game to start, and players must be alert the whole time they are playing, moving towards completing goals, watching out for potential enemies, and engaging enemies.

A very addictive game, asserts that Counter-strike surpasses Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament as far as number of players is concerned.