Not only has hell frozen over, but Satan has shifted his operations to that ice palace from Die Another Day and changed his name to "Frosty" by deed poll. That's right people - Counter-Strike: Condition Zero has finally received a concrete release date!
According to a press release that landed in our inboxes a few moments ago, the strictly single-player Condition Zero - rather misleadingly billed as "the follow-up to the number one online action game in the world" - will be released worldwide in just over a month on Friday, March 26th 2004, and priced 34.99 in Europe.
Unfortunately for those of you eager to try out the premium download aspect of Valve's Steam content delivery service ahead of the launch of Half-Life 2 later in the year, the release makes no mention of any plans for a simultaneous launch via Steam.
Furthermore, when contacted for comment just now VU Games could only confirm that Condition Zero would eventually appear on Steam, so it looks like VU simply doesn't know at this stage. Chances are we'll find out roughly when to expect the Steam launch when US-based Valve wakes up in a few hours.
Condition Zero may not be out until the end of March but it can already lay claim to a rather chequered history, having been shovelled between developers, sent out for review and then thrown back into development, and delayed almost as often as slippage benchmark Duke Nukem Forever (although in fairness it's taken nowhere near as long to turn up in the end).
Valve's most recent release estimate for Condition Zero was November 18th. When it missed that, the developer's Jess Cliffe claimed it was because the team was "doing some additional work on the foreign versions," although he had hoped to see it submitted sometime that week. Obviously it's taken somewhat longer than expected, although it's entirely possible it was just held back until the market picked up again.
Whatever the scenario, March 26th will mark the end of an intriguing saga in the history of the once bullet-proof Valve Software, and it'll be interesting to see how the revised game reviews compared to the heavily criticised version sent out to reviewers some months ago.