Look, competitive Counter-Strike is nice and all, but on the 20th anniversary of v1.0 I do find myself consumed with dreams of a wholly different CS skill: surfing. It’s the freestyle skating to proper CS’s baseball, using a movement glitch to skid, glide, and soar through maps filled with abstract shapes. It is stylish as all hell. And people race surfing! Or you could go freestyle and hit cool tricks to wow judges! Maybe you could even do synchronised routines! Or, like with the X-Games, you could think it seems too much effort and just watch YouTube videos and coo approvingly. So let’s do that, for now.
First, a brief bit of surfing to demonstrate. Because we’re talking about something which grew up in the noughties, we cannot help but run into the Drowning Pool’s bedroom door-slamming anthem, Bodies:
Fall a few metres in Counter-Strike and you’ll usually grunt and be near-death. But with careful movement and the right angle, you can find yourself slipping around like greased lightning. It’s a funny old thing, started by mapper Charlie “Mariowned” Joyce after finding a weird slippy roof in a daft murderbox map he made. That led to the map surf_thegap, then surf_egypt, then surfing really popped off. Our pals Eurogamer talked with him about it last year, so head there if it’s history you’re after. Me, I’m here for cool tricks.
Surfing has continued across Counter-Strike, CS: Source, CS: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, and such – games with those lovely weird Valve physics. As long as the basic shapes are in there, mappers can go wild with dressing, and newer surf maps can look amazing.
Here’s surf_pantheon looking like the pre-rendered backgrounds of a 90s FMV game:
Cool caverns in surf_mesa:
Or the visceral spiral of surf_blackheart:
The utopian playground of surf_intra:
I feel bold bricolage stylings like Cosmo D games in surf_zoomathon:
Surf_fast channels Sonic:
And surf_kitsune is well cyber:
People do surf competitively. Servers and leaderboards track times and records for completing courses. Some of them are: ridiculous. But I don’t know, organised digital sports are more interested in teams murdering each other than sweet jumps. Tch, the state of things. But here are the grand finals of 2019 tournament Surf’s Up!
Surfing does also have scope for freestyle tricking, just bouncing around playground maps doing cool stunts like in the early days. I’d watch competitions with surfers competing to out-trick each other while judges hold up big digital cards with numbers on. God, I hope that’s happened and I just missed it. I’ve never wanted to be more wrong. Here’s me heading down another YouTube rabbit hole.
Man, I love surfing. I just wish I could, y’know, do it. Maybe I’m repeating my “Hey I should learn how to skateboard!” phase of my early thirties with sweet moves that, this time, won’t leave me bruised or endanger children in the park. Ah go on, just one tutorial then: