Counter-Strike: Condition Zero

released on Mar 23, 2004

With its extensive Tour of Duty campaign, a near-limitless number of skirmish modes, updates and new content for Counter-Strike's award-winning multiplayer game play, plus over 12 bonus single player missions, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero is a tremendous offering of single and multiplayer content.

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Though it's not awful by any means, I just don't think it has anything worth shilling out 10 bucks for.
edit: I accidentally left the game on for 7 hours I did not spend 13 hours playing this shit

When it comes to multiplayer shooters, I've always preferred Unreal Tournament, but I can't deny that Counter-Strike was a very important game for the time with its asymmetric and semi-realistic gameplay, some of the best maps and a constant state of tension, where every bullet counts. I've spent hours playing the older versions with my friends and relatives through LAN back in the day. And I remember when Condition Zero came out with this weird annoying little launcher called Steam. Nobody liked it at the time, and it's crazy what that thing turned out to be. I know, technically HL2 was the first Steam game, but CZ was the first encounter with it for me and many of my acquaintances.
As a game, CZ also didn't get much love at the time. Most people were playing version 1.5, and CZ was based on 1.6, which didn't really have any significant advantages, while having one major flaw - the tactical shield. That thing just ruined the balance and, whenever used, slowed the gameplay down to a crawl. Playing it today, I still find the shield pretty garbage. And it's not helped by the fact the campaign is requiring you to use it on several occasions.
That being said, we've never really gotten a definitive version of Counter-Strike, and this thing here comes the closest. Whenever I wanna play CS, I usually install CZ through Steam. The regular CS on Steam is version 1.6, so it also has tactical shields, and thus isn't any better. But CZ has several improvements for a single-player experience. The campaign here has a basic progression system and challenges, taking you through a lot of new maps and making you try out various weapons. The bots are very good and easy to set-up. The number of maps is much higher, and the settings menu is more advanced. It's just an overall more polished experience.
Far as I can remember 1.5 for all of its perfection of the gameplay, was still largely a mod for Half-Life that needed to be loaded through Half-Life's menu (or a dedicated shorctut, which some copies didn't have). And I do remember the bot support being very inconsistent. I might be wrong, but I think you actually had to install third-party bots on top of it. I've never owned an official copy of 1.5, but every pirate copy I've ever played had a different bot situation. Some of them had them pre-installed and easily configurable, in others the configuration would be a little more difficult, and some didn't have bots at all. I remember some copies coming with cs_mansion, which in my circles had the reputation of being the best CS map ever. I don't think I've played this map since like the early 00s, because no official version of CS I've played since came with this map. Shame, because I'm too lazy to download it manually.
I think out of the many versions of the original Counter-Strike, I prefer the one that's easiest to install and that comes with the most content. And that happens to be Condition Zero. Sure, the shields still suck, but they don't detract that much from how stellar Counter-Strike's gameplay is.

Condition Zero is the infamous black sheep of the Counter-Strike franchise, an underwhelming sequel that reviewed poorly and was subsequently succeeded by Counter-Strike: Source half a year later. It is... serviceable, in terms of Counter-Strike games. It's a bit worse for being Counter-Strike, but I don't hate Condition Zero itself, even if it's wildly unambitious (mostly because it was spawned from a failed project that was the opposite).
Condition Zero's signature feature is the campaign. There's a "Tour of Duty" mode where you can recruit AI Bots to fight for you, each with their own stats and weapon preferences. You have a selection of three maps you can play on at a time, each with challenges to complete in order to progress, and once you beat every map in the tier, you move onto the next one. It seems like this was meant to be expanded on later by the community with custom campaigns, but that self-evidently never took off.
Starting with the bot selection, it seems pretty engaging at first, but I think you'll find as you play more you'll quickly turn away from some of the choices due to how the AI works. I ended up using only rifle bots; shotguns are dogshit so shotgun bots are bad by extension, and the problem with SMG bots is that they will full spray without controlling for recoil at range. If they don't land a lucky few hits in that initial burst, they're going to dump their entire mag into the ceiling while the enemy (which seems to all use rifles) picks them off with careful tap shooting. There's also other problems with the AI, like their tendency to stare into walls, spin around in spawn, getting stuck on doors, getting stuck on geometry in general, not look forward while carrying hostages when that's where the enemy is going to be, etc... but it's not frustrating too often. They'll win you rounds more often than you'd expect, and I came to this replay expecting them to not win shit considering my poor memories of their previous performance, but they can certainly do work with the right selection.
The missions themselves are a bit more of a sore point. It's just regular games of Counter-Strike, with some small modifications. The first team to get 2 more wins than their opponent wins. If it's the enemy, they win immediately. If it's your team, you also have to complete all three challenges, which are things such as "Kill 10 enemies" or "Kill 3 enemies with the Night Hawk .40 cal and survive the round" or "Kill a flashbanged enemy". This can spiral out of control quickly; if you get a really shitty weapon on a challenge like the Krieg 550 (it has an accuracy bug in 1.6 and CZ that was never fixed), completing the challenge can be extremely tedious, and after all of that you might run into some unlucky rounds and lose the game, making you start all over again. Losing two rounds to the Terrorists happens a lot easier than you think on the higher difficulties; bot reaction time is extremely variable, and it's essentially CS 1.6, so you're not going to be able to hit anything. Games can last exceedingly long amounts of time, and any charm that was there wears off fast.
By far the biggest issue though is that it's Counter-Strike. Counter-Strike at bots is questionable at best, considering how poor of a combination that is on paper and in practice, but even without that bias, 1.6 is a hilarious clusterfuck of shit balancing and inaccurate weapons (yes, more than GO, look it up) defended by weird nerds who are mad they keep getting one tapped in GO. A lot more luck than you'd think there'd be is involved here, and that luck transfers to the Condition Zero experience, and it can make it pretty frustrating at times considering the low margin for error the game affords you. Losing a single round can be devastating, and while you start with $10000, the rest of the game's eco is normal, so the longer a match goes on, especially when the challenges force you to buy expensive weapons, the more likely it is you get stuck on indefinite deaco. It is 1.6 though, so, at the very least, the Deagle is the only weapon that's actually able to kill enemies.
Oh, one more thing, I forgot about this and didn't abuse it, but I just realized you can cheese the shit out of the bots by just standing in a smoke. That is pretty funny. It's also literally the only way I see people play this game in videos. Maybe this game is just really fucking hard.

TL;DR: I'm an anomaly of a human being that thinks Condition Zero is the best CS game.
This is the ideal Counter-Strike game. You may not like it but this is what peak counter terrorism looks like.
In all honesty, CZ is actually my favorite CS. Millenials would probably say either 1.6 or Source is their favorite and zoomers would say it's CS:GO. So why the hell am I saying mine is CZ? Well, I always liked to play with bots because I was, and most definitely still am awful at PvP, but 1.6 didn't have integrated bots and my PC from eons ago could not run CS:S. That's not a joke, I did not have the RAM nor GPU to actually be capable of running Source games, so my best option was to play CZ. The CT bots I enlisted to my team along the way in my many Tours of Duty were my compatriots. Gus, Kenny, Kent, Travis, Maverick, Rooster, Brent, and many more. These bots with the attention span of a goldfish fought by my side through many battles across the world against those terrorists that were always up to no good, planting bombs and taking hostages.
Ok now that I'm done with the Vietnam nostalgia, let's shit on this game. Condition Zero's AI and the game itself can be really janky. Your team bots probably won't listen to your commands, and their pathfinding can be especially scuffed at times and lead to a lot of lost battles. I have far too many tales of events like this happening in maps like Militia. On top of that there's also a few annoying things like bots not attempting to defuse the bomb unless you're dead, even if there are no T's left. To add insult to injury, even if they want to defuse the bomb, they can mess it up as if they were a player constantly pressing and letting go of the button.
Despite the jank and this definitely being a ver mid game, I still can't help but love CZ above all others, it's just fun. No stress, just the peaceful robotic sounds of "No sir." "Uhhh negative" "Nnnnope", followed by a lot of death choking and the many "and that's how it's done", "way to be team" and whoo's of victory even though they didn't do anything and you did all the work.

It's literally just offline with bots.

I'd let a bad bitch stab me with the knife