"Please note: If you are using an ATI video card, you must run in Direct3d (D3D) for the time being. If you are getting the overflow error you are either cheating or using an ATI card. This is a Half-Life engine issue and affects HL and all HL mods. This bug will be fixed soon by Valve."
So I was sitting there at 2AM, about 50Mb's worth of downloads better off and wondering how profound the changes would be. The setup module had included calibration of voice communication hardware, i.e. my lovely HP desktop microphone to go with my Vivanco headphones (those in telesales will be delighted to find that they can now claim Half-Life is a training program), and I was aware of plenty of other changes I had read about. As I dived on to the first updated server I could find, I was slightly disappointed. This is always the way with new Half-Life/CS patches though really - you gravitate towards a server playing a map you recognise, then discover that the only thing which looks different is the scoreboard. Still, a few moments later and I wasn't really sure what was new, and I was getting some weird errors in my Half-Life console which eventually dumped me out to Windows again. So I quit out, headed over to Counter-Strike.net.
It took me a moment to register how stupid that sounded. Lots of head-shaking and a bit of visual confirmation later I was changing my Half-Life settings to Direct3D. It looked rubbish. Nope, not having that. Several minutes pass while Mugwum wrestles the Radeon out of his machine and stuffs a GeForce MX-400 in its place. Cursing can be heard in the five minutes it takes to download Detonator XP from NVIDIA's apparently flaky webserver. Right, back to OpenGL I went. Before I leapt into the fray once more though, I thought I would head over to Counter-Strike.net again and count the changes so I knew what to look for. Multicast spectator mode, voice communications and redesigned scoreboard stood out as the big changes, but I guessed correctly a few new maps had been thrown into the mix as well. I counted three in my cstrike\maps directory. Unfortunately I couldn't find a server in my time zone that appeared to be running them. The first thing to test was this voice comms stuff. Using my laptop and desktop PC in tandem, I got the chaps into position on de_cobble. My first man - the Counter-Terrorist - was placed strategically behind some crates near the main bomb site through the metal doors on the right of the CT spawn. My second man - the Terrorist - was positioned a few crates away. Turning the volume on my laptop down entirely, I hit my "Enemy Spotted" key. Sure enough, I could make it out through my headphones on the desktop. That seems to work then. During my quest to see it in action on a public I got confused a few times, but it did aid the odd kill here or there. Unfortunately, the radio calls are frequently so loud in your ears that you have to glance at your HUD to find out whether it was one of your chaps. And those radio notices do tend to linger down there, so it was still a mite confusing. Multicast spectator mode was going to be interesting. That said, I couldn't find out (in the wee hours you understand) how to set it up. The premise is thus, however: a proxy connects to the game as a spectator. Clients wanting to view the game connect to this proxy. They can then view any player and a nice big overhead map to observe strategy. It looks fairly weird, but it may just work. Whether it will make the average Counter-Strike match any more watchable is debateable. It's my experience that with two players left games of CS resemble an AI simulation, with two dots on the map trying to find one another by sound and feel alone. It'll be a few weeks before Half-Life 18.104.22.168 and Counter-Strike 1.3 are really understood, but several things stand out in the new releases - the ridiculous ATI problem, the new maps, and the voice communications. Oh how I yearn for a new multiplayer team game. Download locations by file: