Counter-Strike: Condition Zero (CS:CZ) is a first-person shooter video game and the sequel to the original Counter-Strike. The game was released in 2004 via both retail stores and Steam and uses the GoldSrc engine. Condition Zero features a multiplayer mode, which features updated character models, textures, maps, and other graphical tweaks. It is bundled with a copy of Counter-Strike regardless of how you purchase it.
Unlike other Counter-Strike games, Condition Zero also contains a single-player mission pack with the player unlocking maps and more efficient bots as they pass certain requirements for each map while playing as a Counter-Terrorist. These requirements include objectives such as "kill 3 enemies with a Clarion 5.56" or "win a round in 45 seconds". This game mode is called Tour of Duty.
There is another single-player mission pack called Deleted Scenes. So far, Condition Zero is the only game in the franchise that features a single-player campaign.
As of April 15, 2009, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero is one of the ten most played Half-Life modifications in terms of players, according to GameSpy.
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was originally designed to introduce a single-player Counter-Strike experience and therefore it has more in-depth single-player modes available than other entries in the series. In addition to two different single-player modes, the traditional multiplayer mode is also available.
Single-player — Tour of Duty
The Tour of Duty single-player mode is the main single-player mode in the game. It allows players to play regular multiplayer maps in an arcade-like single-player experience. The basic setting is very similar to a regular multiplayer game as the game utilizes the new bot AI to enable the possibility of having team mates and enemies in the game. Each map has a certain amount of objectives which include killing a certain amount of enemies or rescuing hostages. Usually, some restrictions such as achieving the objectives with a specific weapon or within a certain time frame accompany the objectives. When these objectives are completed, the player earns a reputation point. Reputation points are needed to unlock the next set of maps and they are also used to recruit new or better team mates.
Starting with version 1.1, the game supports the possibility of creating custom campaigns for the game mode. Since the release of this support, numerous unofficial campaigns have been released online.
Single-player — Deleted Scenes
The Deleted Scenes part of the game is included as a separate bonus game. This part consists of major parts of the work done by Ritual Entertainment for their iteration of the game. There are major differences in game mechanics and weapon balance in this game mode compared to a Counter-Strike multiplayer game or the Tour of Duty mode. This game plays more like a traditional linear shooter like Half-Life than a multiplayer game of Counter-Strike.
While it was originally planned to have cross-compatibility between online players of Counter-Strike and players of Condition Zero, the two games feature completely separate multiplayer communities in a much criticized move. For the most part, the multiplayer game itself is identical to that of the original Counter-Strike.
One major difference is the ability to add bots to servers. These bots function much like any other player taking up regular player slots. The server admin can freely choose the amount of bots they want to include in a server, thus it is also possible to play a multiplayer game solo without other human players using bots.
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero includes support for all the scenarios from the original Counter-Strike (hostage rescue, bomb defusal and assassination). It is also possible to play the escape scenario, but no such maps are included by default and no effort was put into enabling support for this scenario for the bots or the Tour of Duty game mode.
When Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was originally released, the hostage rescue scenario was identical to that of the original Counter-Strike. Starting with version 1.2 of the game, some quite major changes to the scenario were made.
The basics of the scenario still remain the same with Counter-Terrorists attempting to rescue the hostages (4 in all new Condition Zero maps) by bringing them to the hostage rescue zone and Terrorists attempting to foil their plans. Victory can also be attained by eliminating the opposing team.
However, the hostage AI was updated in version 1.2 to utilize some of the same routines as the bot AI does. Using these routines, hostages have gained the ability to find their way to the hostage rescue zones by themselves, that is unless a terrorist approaches them in which case they will run back to their original location. They also show emotions and react to their surroundings, signaling approaching Counter-Terrorists whether any Terrorists are nearby. In addition, hostages also have the ability to climb ladders. Since this updated logic is based on the bot AI, the absence of a bot navigation file for the map will revert the hostage logic to that of the original Counter-Strike.
The hostage models also received a make-over in version 1.2, coinciding with this major hostage rescue scenario update. These models were likely created by Turtle Rock Studios, but they were based on hostage models created by Ritual Entertainment. As these updated models are hard coded to override the hostage models specified by the map file, it is no longer possible to use map specific custom hostage models following this update.
Bots also fully support this scenario with Counter-Terrorists properly trying to rescue the hostages and Terrorists attempting to defend them. The Tour of Duty game mode also has several scenario specific tasks available for hostage rescue.
Bomb defusal functions exactly like it does in the original Counter-Strike. One player on the Terrorist team starts off with a bomb which has to be planted at one of two bombsites. Once planted the bomb will detonate after a specific amount of time and successful detonation will lead to victory for the Terrorist team. Counter-Terrorists may attempt to defuse the bomb and successful defusal yields victory to the Counter-Terrorists. Victory can also be attained by eliminating the opposing team.
Complete bot support for the scenario is available and the Tour of Duty game mode also offers tasks specific to bomb defusal scenarios.
While no new assassination maps were introduced with Condition Zero, the fact that all maps from the original Counter-Strike are included means that the lone assassination map Oilrig is part of the game. Gameplay remains identical to the original game, but other updates were made to support the scenario. To complement the new player models, an upgraded player model is introduced for the VIP.
The official bots also support playing this scenario, but it can be argued that this support was mostly an afterthought. Bots that take the role of the VIP will properly strive to reach escape zones in maps. However, they play like any regular bot making no additional efforts at keeping oneself alive. This is especially apparent when a bot VIP runs out of the limited pistol ammunition, as it will attempt to charge at any encountered enemies armed only with a knife.
With the introduction of custom campaign support for the Tour of Duty mode, a scenario specific task for the assassination mode, which entailed killing the VIP, was also introduced. However, despite this task getting implemented it doesn't work properly and can in fact never be achieved. Additionally, starting an assassination map via the Tour of Duty game mode will incorrectly identify the map as a hostage rescue scenario during the loading screen.
- For the missions included in Deleted Scenes, see Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes § Missions. Most of the maps included in the game were maps taken from previous work on the game by Ritual Entertainment. In addition, the remakes of classic Counter-Strike maps created by Ritual for the Xbox port of Counter-Strike were also made part of the game. In fact, the only new map originating from the time Turtle Rock Studios was working on the game was Sienna, which was a collaborative effort of veteran Counter-Strike level designer David Johnston, Valve Software and Turtle Rock.
A total of four maps were added to the game post-release via game patches.
List of maps
In addition to the new maps included with Condition Zero, all maps from the original Counter-Strike are also playable via Condition Zero. There is out-of-the-box bot support included for all the new and original maps. The listing below only includes the maps (or versions of them) that are part of Condition Zero.
*Some of these maps have been worked on by numerous people and companies. This lists the original author of the map only; the person mainly responsible for the general geometry of the map.
Weapons and equipment
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero features exactly the same arsenal of weapons and equipment as the original Counter-Strike. The possibility of weapons exclusive to Deleted Scenes being introduced was mentioned, but this never happened.
Back when Ritual Entertainment was working on Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, they had remade all of the weapon models in the game. However, some people felt that some of these models looked too different from the original Counter-Strike weapon models. Therefore the models originally created by Ritual were slightly modified and then introduced into Condition Zero starting with version 1.1.
Factions and player models
When Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was initially released, it had the same factions as the original Counter-Strike. In version 1.2, two new factions were added: the American Terrorists Midwest Militia and the Russian Counter-Terrorists Spetsnaz.
Condition Zero was supposed to use the player models that Ritual Entertainment had created, but due to technical difficulties with these models the game was initially launched using the original Counter-Strike models. However, in version 1.1 of the game the enhanced player models originally made by Ritual were added to the game. Owners of Condition Zero can also choose to use these enhanced models in the original Counter-Strike.
List of factions
Each team has five available factions that players can choose as their third-person model.
|Elite Crew||Terrorists||Middle East|
|Guerilla Warfare||Terrorists||Middle East|
|Midwest Militia||Terrorists||United States|
|Phoenix Connexion||Terrorists||Eastern Europe|
|SEAL Team 6||Counter-Terrorists||United States|
- This section focuses on the development of Condition Zero by Turtle Rock Studios. For more information about the development before development was headed by Turtle Rock Studios, see development of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero.
The development of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero originally started in 2001 with Rogue Entertainment working on the game, but development was overtaken by Gearbox Software relatively quickly due to concerns with the financial stability of Rogue Entertainment. After about a year of development, Gearbox Software decided to withdraw from the project and in mid 2002 Ritual Entertainment took over development before the game finally landed in the hands of the relatively young Turtle Rock Studios in mid 2003.
Turtle Rock Studios had already been involved with development of the game when Ritual Entertainment was in charge of its development in the form of the official bots. Internal playtests at Valve Software and early reviews of the game developed by Ritual Entertainment had revealed some serious short comings in its design. On the other hand, the official bot created by Turtle Rock Studios had been very well received by the community and the press, which is why Valve Software decided to give Turtle Rock the responsibility of redesigning the game from scratch in around June 2003.
The design by Turtle Rock Studios drew some inspiration from sports games, and due to the success of the bots it became possible to build very flexible arcade-like missions for the game. While the design of the game by Gearbox Software was never officially mentioned as a source of inspiration, the similarities are quite obvious. Instead of completely scrapping the work done by Ritual Entertainment, the decision was made to package it up as a bonus game of sorts with the title Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes.
On October 8, 2003 the version of the game designed by Turtle Rock Studios was unveiled to the public and it was to go gold by October 10, 2003 and be available at retail and via Steam on November 18, 2003. Only a day after this version of the game had been announced, it would end up getting leaked coinciding with the Half-Life 2 leak.
By the time November 18, 2003 came around the game was nowhere to be seen. According to Jess Cliffe, the game had been delayed due to work needed to be done by the publisher in finalizing international versions of the game. Soon, Valve Software would also drag this into their on-going lawsuit with the publisher Vivendi Universal Games claiming that Vivendi purposefully delayed the release of Condition Zero which made it miss the 2003 holiday season.
Despite the lack of a release date for the title, Valve Software decided to organize a launch party for the game on December 16, 2003. The event was announced to be open to anyone over 21 of age and was held at the House of Shields in San Francisco. Attendees were supposed to be able to play the final version of the game at the event. However, accounts by non-employees that tried to join the event indicate that it was in fact invite only and others were turned away at the door.
In a further move of bad luck, Condition Zero was leaked for the second time in early January 2004. However, the following month on February 25, 2004 publisher Vivendi Universal Games announced the long awaited release date of March 23, 2004 for the game. This time the game would no longer slip, and after almost 3 since the game was initially announced it was finally released on March 23, 2004.
Post-release, the game was updated with substantial new content including higher quality character and weapon models, new maps, a new radar/location system and a major change to the hostage rescue scenario.
On February 21, 2013 a beta of the game was made available for Linux and Mac OS X and on March 7, 2013 support for these platforms was officially released.
Music and sound effects
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero utilizes some of the music originally composed by Zak Belica when Ritual Entertainment was working on the game. In addition to music featured in the main menu, several pieces are used within the Tour of Duty game mode.
Enhanced sound effects were introduced to the game in version 1.1. While enhanced sound effects had been created by Zak Belica of Ritual Entertainment for most of the old sound effects (including ambience and map specific sound effects), only weapon firing sounds and player actions sounds were replaced with enhanced versions. Not all of these were taken directly from the work by Belica as it was felt that some of these sounds deviated too far from the original sound effects, thus many of these sound effects were remade.
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero introduces an extended help/tutor system. This provides real-time assistance to new players of the game based on events that occur in the game. These include instructions on how to win bomb defusal and hostage rescue maps and the usefulness of special equipment such as the defusal kit. When spectating, the tutor will provide random hints regarding general gameplay. To prevent experienced users from getting annoyed, the tutor can be disabled. Curiously, having the tutor enabled disables the kill feed.
A major update was also made to the buy menu in version 1.1 with the introduction of buy packages. Players can configure a total of four different buy packages that include primary and secondary weapons and equipment. There is also the possibility of configuring fall back weapons/equipment that will be purchased in case the player is low on funds.
Another major change to the interface is the introduction of a location system to the radar, introduced in version 1.2. This system uses data stored in the bot navigation files to name different areas of the map. When chatting, messages automatically include which area the players are in. Bots also utilize this information to provide voice feedback on e.g. where they have encountered enemies. Because the location data is completely separate from the map itself, it is possible to add support for place names to custom maps without having access to the map source. Condition Zero ships with navigation files including the place name information for all new maps and the original Counter-Strike maps.
The most important piece of new technology introduced with Condition Zero to the PC platform were the bots. In order to provide some enhancement to the dated look of the GoldSrc engine, detail texture support was also introduced.
The bots that are included with the game were developed by Michael Booth of Turtle Rock Studios and development on the bots was started when Ritual Entertainment was still in charge of development on the game. While a bot had already been developed by Gearbox Software for their iteration of the game, this bot was scrapped and Booth started from scratch as he had a quite different approach for creating the bot. Unlike any other bot until the release of Condition Zero, this bot has the capability of automatically learning new maps, making it possible to use it on most custom maps without requiring intervention by the user.
This bot was beta tested by the public in the original Counter-Strike between June 5, 2003 and September 9, 2003. However, major advances in the behavior of the bots were made after this beta test. As said by Michael Booth, the beta tested bots were "version one" and the bots introduced in Condition Zero were "version one-point-five".
Due to the delayed release date of Condition Zero, the original plan for the bot to be introduced in Condition Zero didn't hold and it was in fact first released as part of the Xbox port of Counter-Strike.
Coinciding with the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Valve Software added support for detail textures to the GoldSrc engine. This support was enabled by utilizing code originally created by Ritual Entertainment for the Xbox port of the game. Detail textures function by having map specific text files which specify detail textures for each regular texture that are blended on top of the regular textures, providing a simple and relatively inexpensive way of boosting the texture quality of maps. All the new maps included in Condition Zero ship with support for detail textures.
Mapping, modding and editing tools
As the map format used by Counter-Strike: Condition Zero is identical to that of the original Counter-Strike, tools previously released to enable designing of maps for the original game can also be used to design maps for Condition Zero.
Custom campaign support for the Tour of Duty game mode was added in version 1.1 of the game via what was referred to as the Mission Creation Kit. This included an update to the game mode that added support for new tasks to allow the creation of Terrorist-based missions and the inclusion of assassination maps. It also became possible to create campaign specific bot profiles and to assign custom models player models for bots. Shortly after the release of custom campaign support, a document was added to the game which serves as a tutorial for creating new campaigns and customizing bots. This document also covers usage of the new tasks that are not used in the official campaign.
On August 31, 2013, coinciding with the release of the Half-Life SDK on Steam, the SDK was updated to include various prop models that had been created for Condition Zero during the development of the game. Some of these prop models had not been previously released as part of either Condition Zero or Deleted Scenes.
Content delivery and anti-cheat
Counter-Strike: Condition Zero was released via retail and via Steam. In either case, the game utilizes Steam for updates as retail copies of the game include a CD key which allows the game to be activated on Steam. In addition to providing a means of updating the game, Condition Zero also utilizes the Valve Anti-Cheat technology provided by Steam to combat cheating.
Marketing and merchandise
As substantial amounts of marketing material had already been created for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero when Ritual Entertainment was developing the title, little new material was produced and most marketing material was reused. The final box art of the game looks pretty much identical to the box art revealed for the earlier version of the game, which is likely why the logo of Turtle Rock Studios was absent from the box art of the game.
The series of 20 trading cards originally created to promote the version of the game designed by Ritual Entertainment were now included as a pre-order incentive for the game, despite the fact that material shown on them was exclusively part of the game designed by Ritual Entertainment.
Possibly in an attempt to increase the appeal of the game for Half-Life fans, it had been announced back when Ritual Entertainment was still developing Condition Zero that new "exclusive" footage of Half-Life 2 would be bundled with the game. This footage was also included with final retail copies of the game. However, the footage actually originated from the E3 2003 showcase of Half-Life 2, meaning that it was in fact neither new nor exclusive and it was very outdated by the time the Condition Zero was finally released.
In addition, Prima Games had previously completed the official strategy guide for the version of the game designed by Ritual Entertainment. It would seem that this guide was modified by adding information pertaining to the Tour of Duty game mode, and information pertaining to the six missions that were initially absent from the release of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes was removed. This would explain some oddities in the guide such as mentions of the Kidotai faction, the General MG 60 and the LAW Rocket.
|PC Gamer (UK)||75/100|
The main feature of the game, the bot AI was generally praised, with PC Zone stating that the bots are "so intelligent they make your average online player look like a baboon who's been dropped at birth". GameSpot thought actions performed by the bots like breaking windows to reach certain areas more quickly were remarkable.
Reception for the Tour of Duty game mode was quite mixed, with PC Gamer criticizing the structure of the game mode and thought there was too little replayability. PC Zone on the other hand applauded the decision to change the design of the single-player mode to the more arcade approach reminiscent of the type of gameplay originally promised from the game when Gearbox Software was developing it.
The Deleted Scenes portion of the game was considered a nice bonus, but GameSpot stated that the decision to purchase the game shouldn't be made based on them as the missions were so heavily scripted that they didn't feel like Counter-Strike at all.
However, the dated engine of the game was particularly criticized with reviewers stating that the game arrived too late and that the visuals were no match against other shooters released at the time.
Reviewers that had previously reviewed the version of Condition Zero designed by Ritual Entertainment praised the decision to redesign the game. In the end though, comparing the review scores of that version to the final version shows only marginal improvement in the scores.
Generally, reviewers concluded that Condition Zero was a good purchase for people who had yet to play Counter-Strike, but that people who already owned Counter-Strike should pass on it since they already had access to the most important part: the multiplayer component.
Despite the mixed reception by the press, the game would be quite a success in terms of sales. As of 2008, the game had sold 2.9 million copies via retail, outperforming Counter-Strike: Source in retail sales. This may not directly correlate to actual sales volume as Steam was more mature by the time Counter-Strike: Source was released, suggesting that compared to Condition Zero a larger share of Counter-Strike: Source sales were digital (via Steam) instead of retail.
Behind the scenes
An older build of the game, known as "cstrike_trs" (Counter-Strike: Turtle Rock Studios), was leaked with several other mods and the Half-Life 2 Beta in 2003. This build includes the multiplayer and offline portions of the game with bot support, and spots several differences:
- The game files include the bot voices before they were processed with a radio filter.
- Cut maps are included within this build, along with a folder containing many community and test maps. Some maps differ from their final versions.
- The Tour of Duty campaigns features 7 tours instead of the released 6, all of which included some of the cut maps.
- Bot of higher levels were not restricted to a certain amount of points. A player could hire a 5 points bot early on in the campaign.
Just like in the initial release of Condition Zero the following features were not yet implemented:
- Counter-Strike's models are used for players, bots and weapons.
- Equipment sets were not yet implemented.
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