What can I say about Counter Strike that hasn't already been said?
It is one of the few shooters, that after 10 years of existence, is STILL the greatest competetive shooter of all time. It has yet to be replicated, even by its own developers.
As the new era of casual shooters begins, you might want a challenging online shooter once in a while. As Call of Duty 4, Counter Strike Source and Gears of War certainly won't satisfy that need, you must open your mind up to this gem.
Though its been 10 years, these graphics strangly will grow on you. Compared to games now, this game has a strange aestetic to it, being built on Valve's original game engine GoldSRC. The animations are stiff, but trust me, for a competetive game, this is perfect. Opposed to games such as Gears of War, where it is impossible to hit people when they are rolling around or jumping from cover to cover, this game does not have any cheap animations of this sort. The textures are odd, from a distance, they have a weird gritty look to them, but up close, they look amazing for a game from the 90s. Seriously, if you can just play this game for long enough, you will get used to the visuals, and that is one of the only barriers you will face trying to enjoy this game (but not the only).
Again, the sounds were made for competetive gaming. All the weapons have distinct sounds, so you can easily tell the arsenal of the opposing force. All the guns even have different volumes, and the farther away, the quieter they get, so you can key in on your opponent. With a good headset, and some game experience, you will be able to tell the exact location, what weapon and all information about a noisey opponent. Another great way they balance the game is the volume of each weapon. Guns with silencers cant even be heard from 20 meters away, but the AWP (strongest sniper in the game) can be heard through-out the whole entire map. Counter Strike really innovated by using sounds in such an amazing way by using it to actually help the gameplay along more than most games at the time ever tried.
This is where the game has been unmatched for the past 10 years. So much small detail was put into this game. Even when it brought new innovative ideas to the table, they perfected it before they let it loose. Features from buying your equipment every round, the utter balance of the maps and weapons, shooting through walls, player speed. Even small details that really affect gameplay. Like when you are being shot, it slows your movement for a split second, encouraging cover, instead of run 'n' gunning and then retreating to cover when you get hit. I can not stress enough how perfect this game's gameplay is. Developers really don't put that much depth into games, and instead use random variables, and physics to make the game more accesible/better looking. This game has no bit of randomness what so ever. Even the spray/recoil paterns arn't random. This may sound like a bad feature, but no. It makes the game harder (and easier for long-time veterans). Opposed to Counter Strike Source, and other games, you can not randomly spray in this game and get a lucky headshot. Players move so fast, their player models are so small, and the head model takes skill, not luck, to hit. If you play CS:S and spray at someones knees, with an AK47, you will most likely get a headshot. In 1.6, you will be lucky if you hit him twice. The recoil goes from side to side as well as vertical, to make random headshots almost impossible. Im sure all you have played Call of Duty 4, and enjoyed how you can shoot through walls. This game originated it years before. Every single surface in the game has a specific 'thickness' to it, which tells the game exactly what guns can go through it, how much damage it will do, and how far the bullet can go after penetration. This is mind blowing how in depth just this part of the game is. And there are no perks to adjust how you shoot through walls, its an even playing field folks.
I could go on forever about how perfect this game is, but I wont.
If you can fight through the graphic quality, sound quality, the sheer difficulty (playing against people who have been playing forever) and remember to download GUIs to fix the game's few technical flaws (I wish Valve patched it in themselves!) then this game will be a game you will come back to again and again. With a constantly growing community, low system requirements, low price ($5-$10 on steam), and an infinite supply of maps, I reccomend this to anyone who has even played a first person shooter.
Do NOT buy the Xbox version, it is nothing like the true PC version.