As many of you will already know, the ubiquitous Counter-Strike modification for Half-Life is soon to reach version 1.3. With this new release, the emphasis has been on quashing bugs and niggles that have caused problems for players of this global teamplay phenomenon. A couple of new maps have been added and others refined, but it doesn't look like chief programmer Gooseman has elected to fill the update out with extra weapons for once. Something the CS community will no doubt be thankful for. The list of changes, recently added to the Counter-Strike.net website, indicate that several additions will be made to try and level the playing field, including the eradication of bunny-hopping, a technique used to speed through levels extremely quickly by exploiting a physics bug and the removal of a dangerous buffer overflow bug that allowed malicious players to boot fellow gamers from servers mid-game. Actual gameplay changes will include the ability to hear enemy radio calls if within earshot. Previously radio binds - used for requesting backup and alerting team mates to enemy presence amongst other things - could be heard only by players of the same team. In a controversial move, any player within a certain distance of the call can make it out and pinpoint the direction with relative ease. Unfortunately, in this writer's opinion radio binds are barely used enough anyway, and this move will clearly encourage players to use them even less. It may elevate the standard of play in leagues and such, but I dare say public servers will become even quieter. Not a good thing. Radio binds may be entirely unnecessary anyway, since voice communications are built in to CS 1.3. On the plus side, Gooseman and co. are attempting to make the game more spectator-friendly, fixing bugs in the spectator mode and adding Multicast, a new system whereby players can view an overhead map ala the screenshot on the left. Flying around when you're dead is incredibly tedious, as often is spectating on Counter-Strike games in general - perhaps Multicast will help inject some interest into proceedings again. Counter-Strike 1.3 is due out in early September. The full list of changes and bug-fixes can be found at http://www.counter-strike.net.
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