What a strange beast Counter-Strike: Condition Zero Deleted Scenes is… A single player game shaped from the success of an exclusively multiplayer phenomenon, trying to walk in the original Call of Duty’s footsteps. Bungled from Valve, to Ritual Entertainment, to Gearbox and finally a mix of the three resulted in Counter-Strike’s single player debut. The world unanimously came together, and after much thought, finally came to an unprecedented agreement amongst both gamers and critics, that it was completely and utterly~!
Mediocre… As well as being automatically outdated by other titles upon release as it was finally kicked out the door in March, 2004. Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source were to be released in November of the same year. Makes you think what the hell they were doing. With all that said, I still didn’t learn of this game until I actually bought Condition Zero, not realising it came with it. I remember seeing it on a STEAM game list belonging to a friend, but when I searched the store I couldn’t find it, so I assumed it was a “behind the scenes” style video you could watch.
So when I got around to unearthing this forgotten relic, I was very excited to experience how one of my favourite multiplayer titles of all time would transition into a scripted, single-player romp through shooty-bang-bang-town. And I have to admit… Honestly? I was kind of impressed. It’s cheesy, like playing through a B-movie, but it’s strangely charming in the same way Resident Evil 4 walks that fine line. The difference being with Resi, it definitely does it intentionally. The cutscenes, the dialogue, the interactions with fellow NPCs. It’s surprisingly entertaining, purposefully or not.
I’d always wondered how the mechanics of Counter-Strike’s recoil system would feel in a single player game, and, unsurprisingly, it still feels awesome. Nowhere near as necessary to master as in multiplayer, of course, but immensely satisfying nonetheless! It’s a nice change from the modern shooter to actually have to wrestle for control of your weapon if you decide (or are forced) to fire full-auto. Especially since a lot of shooters I’ve seen/played recently seem to fake recoil. The animation has a tonne of kick, but your bullets fly in a perfectly straight line regardless.
It’s definitely rough around the edges and can be finicky at times, especially with the miscellaneous gadgets and gizmos you carry around depending on the mission, but it’s shockingly varied. The tone of the mission, the pacing, the environments, I actually found myself feeling EXCITED for the next mission. Excited for a mediocre single player shooter, released in 2004, on the GoldSrc engine. It doesn’t have a story, but rather you jump mission to mission as an individual member of a special forces team. Dealing with their own isolated incident, in their own corner of the world.
The game is also filled to the brim with secrets you can find via using unlikely platforms, using fancy movement or performing daring leaps. It’s great fun and feels rewarding, there’s actually a point to exploration! See the screenshot, above? There’s a medikit in the dumpster, but you can’t see it from ground level. Climb the edge of the building and do a running jump-crouch off the edge and you can dumpster dive right onto it! This means backtracking can have a purpose too. (Though due to engine limitations this obviously doesn’t go for the whole level!)
And here, by managing to get through the second floor window! (Remember to always crouch when you jump!) These secrets can be weapons, common and rare ammo, grenades, armour, medikits or even easter eggs! Since these (Except easter eggs, obviously.) can help make it easier to progress further, there’s definitely incentive to search them out, though the game can still be beaten if you run through the game blind as a bat. Talking of easter eggs, it’s clear the makers of Deleted Scenes at the very least had a sense of humour.
Deleted Scenes seems to have ripened with age. The gunplay, the puzzles, the platforming, the secret hunting. I think it’s great. Though it isn’t all sparkles and rainbows. Some of the design is VERY bad. Enemy placement is sporadic at times. You can be shot in the back from the room you just cleared or shot by a sniper directly above you as if they expected the player to look up 90 degrees upon going through a doorway. Occasionally, there’s a lack of conveyance on where to go and with gadgets, you can only use them when and where the game says so, which can be infuriating.
Save-scumming is not only encouraged but required (at least on Hard mode), especially when some of the cheap game design inevitably bites you in the arse with dodgy enemy spawns, or walking into a courtyard when suddenly a window flies open and you get shot in the face with a M72 LAW rocket launcher before you can even react accordingly. The game can (and will) throw everything it has at you in a split-second whether you’re ready or not, so be wary and save often. Unless you want to spend the majority of your time rewatching the unskippable intro cutscene to the level.
But, if you can ignore that, there’s a pretty solid single-player shooter hiding underneath. Nothing mind-blowing, but I’d say it’s definitely worth trying out simply for the novelty. Though buy while it’s dead cheap during a sale, it’s not worth full price. (And play it in 4:3, It feels really weird in widescreen and lags for some reason.) The additional missions are pretty solid and extend the length of the game while also taking you to new destinations as well as introducing new tactics and situations to conquer. It’s pretty simple, but it’s good fun overall.
Oh, and finally, one last little thing I discovered. In Counter-Strike, H.E. grenades have always had a shockwave that forces players away. It’s very slight, so it’s only really noticeable if you’re either jumping and it detonates near you, or if you’re standing on the edge of something and it causes you to fall off. But NEVER, have you been able to GRENADE JUMP in Counter-Strike history. That all changed during one mission in Deleted Scenes, where I realised the engine breaks for this level and THIS level alone. I present to you: Sandstorm.
Here’s a highlight reel for all you lovely lads and lasses, enjoy!