PC Interview

Counter-Strike: Condition Zero

Randy Pitchford is grilled on the topic of this single-player add-on for Counter-Strike...

Firstly, Counterstrike has been the game of choice for the on-line community for some time now, to what do you attribute this success?

Randy Pitchford: It's fun.

How will Condition Zero build upon the strengths of CS, and what will it add that fans will relish?

Randy Pitchford: Condition Zero is a single player version of the on-line game. It adds purpose, narrative, character and team building incentives to the game. Condition Zero also allows players to tackle the narrative missions cooperatively. Finally, Condition Zero adds new technology, content and game play features that will upgrade the existing multiplayer game.

I hear that a little new technology will be improving the visuals of Condition Zero; what kinds of improvements will we witness, and what benefits has this entailed from a design perspective?

Randy Pitchford: There are new special effects technologies and rendering technologies that give us a number of benefits that specifically benefit the design of the game. This includes some upgrades to the model rendering system to allow for fully alpha blended models. You'll see very realistic trees and foliage as a result of this feature. There will now also be levels of detail in models which allows us to provide the High Definition pack for Counter-Strike without sacrificing performance on mid-range PC's. The most visible upgrades will be in the area of special effects. These can really only be appreciated by seeing the game in action. As a result of new special effects technology, there's now precipitation in many levels (like snow and rain) and specific bullet impact effects for any given type of material found in the world.

Tell us a little more detail about the new missions that will be added, and could you outline an exciting brand-new mission for us?

Randy Pitchford: New missions take place all over the world in a variety of fictional environments from the streets of European cities to a South American jungle and a Middle Eastern desert town. One of the new missions that we're now playing often in testing takes place in the snow along a giant oil pipeline. In the single player game, your team must move quickly to prevent the pipes from getting sabotaged.

The addition of artificial intelligence 'bots' will be a new addition to the familiar Counterstrike game. Tell us a little about how realistic their behavior will be, and how they fit in with both single and multiplayer games.

Randy Pitchford: Bot AI is used to control not only the friendly squad members, but the enemy units as well. The AI is very convincing. We've done some blind tests with experienced Counter-Strike players and have fooled them every time. In addition to this advanced AI controlling the human-like behaviors of characters in the single player game, the AI bots can be populated into multiplayer games for practice or to round out uneven teams.

What new weapons will be present to knock the opposition around with?

Randy Pitchford: There will be eight to ten new weapons and items available in the finished game. One of the most popular new weapons is the LAW rocket. It's important to note that the LAW rocket is a one-shot launch tube. It can be purchased like a grenade and when fired it flies in a fairly straight path and explodes on impact. This gives it an interesting tactical counter-balance to how grenades currently work in the game. Another interesting new piece of equipment is the Ballistic Shield, which can actually be used to deflect small arms fire.

We've added some new thrown weapons, like a Molotov cocktail and a chemical gas grenade - both of which can be used as area effect weapons to deter opponents from taking targeted routes through the mission's area.

And, we've included a couple of our favorite rifles like the FAMAS used by French special forces units or the Galil Israeli assault rifle. These weapons are a lot of fun and we've used them to fill a couple of subtle holes in the older weapon selection that are noticed by very advanced players.

Is there some form of plot or premise that runs through Condition Zero? If so, tell us about it, and how it fits in with the mission-based game structure.

Randy Pitchford: The single player missions follow a narrative path, but we'd prefer to keep this quiet until players can sit down with the game and experience it themselves.

When will gamers be enjoying Condition Zero?

Randy Pitchford: We haven't yet announced an exact release date, but the game is currently on schedule to be completed this winter.

Finally, in conclusion, please summarize for us why Condition Zero will make an essential add-on for any Counter-Strike fan.

Randy Pitchford: Condition Zero is a complete, stand-alone product that provides a full and engrossing single player game as well as technology and High Definition content upgrades, new game modes and new environments for play on-line. Condition Zero will be fully compatible with Counter-Strike on-line so current players can check out the new single player game, play cooperatively on-line, play simulated multiplayer games with bot AI and take advantage of the upgrades all while being able to join any CS multiplayer server on the internet.

Thanks for your time, best of luck with completing Condition Zero!

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