Gameplay: 7 / 10
Graphics: 8 / 10
Replay Value: 10 / 10
Sound and Music: 8 / 10
Counter-Strike has been on the PC gaming scene for around 12 years now, and remains a hugely popular multiplayer first-person shooter. Valve, the developers, made the decision many moons ago that each iteration of Counter-Strike will only see minor adjustments over time in an attempt to remain faithful to the games roots and to its fan base. Will what has worked in past releases work again with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?
Based on the sales alone, you would think that its status remains intact. With an average of more than 200,000 gamers online at any given time of the day and the number of active servers, it reiterates the games popular online team gaming aspect.
For those who aren’t familiar with the gaming components, Counter-Strike is a fast-paced, intense, first-person shooter. The original game featured a fundamental aspect in that players have to work with their teams in order to defeat the enemy. The better you and your team performs, the higher the cash influx, which allows you to purchase better weapons, armour and accessories. Each round has a maximum time frame of 3 minutes and, once killed, you are unable to respawn until the round has been completed. Players can choose to play as Terrorists or Counter-Terrorists, each with different objectives to winning a round.
[In single player mode, teams and opposition are filled with bots. In multiplayer modes, you are able to play alongside human counterparts, while adding a bot wherever there’s a vacancy]
In Global Offensive, Valve has added additional gaming modes in an attempt to spice things up a bit. There are now 4 different game modes: Arms Race, Demolition, Classic Casual and Classic Competitive.
Classic Casual/Competitive: These two gaming modes are essentially the same, with the difference being that friendly fire and team collision are turned on for the “competitive” gaming experience. In addition to simply purchasing guns, players are also required to purchase armour and bomb-defusal kits with the money earned during rounds. Classic Casual, thus, is geared toward novice players who simply wish to shoot up some bad guys without putting too much thought into selecting items. The Competitive mode is completed when either team wins 16 rounds in a “best of 30” matchup, while Casual mode is a faster, “best of 10” experience.
Arms Race: In this game mode, players receive a new weapon for each kill they make. The new weapon swopped out instantly, while respawning is almost as instant. Although this is a team-based game, friendly fire is enabled. Once you have killed an enemy with each weapon, you final challenge has the player equipped with only a knife.
Demolition: This mode is similar to the classic modes in that the objectives to winning the round are the same. The biggest difference is that you aren’t required to purchase weapons. For each round your team wins, you are tasked with using a different weapon in which to take out the enemy. Once a team wins the played rounds, sides are swopped (terrorists become counter-terrorists, and vice-versa).
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive uses the same Valve gaming engine as with the Counter-Strike Souce and Half-Life 2, Source Engine. Although it may seem that the game wouldn’t be much of an improvement due to this fact, but the engine’s incremental update since its unveiling in 2004 means that gamers can expect the best performance in graphics and gameplay. Counter-Strike has never relied much on the graphics to lure potential gamers, but sees a surprising improvement this aspect. Thus, it feels more polished and smooth than previous versions.
In addition, CS:GB provides true aiming that doesn’t deviate too much from what you will expect, even during firing recoil. Graphics improvements usually mean higher consumption in terms of processing, but CS:GB provides an efficient, lag-free gaming experience, even when playing online. This may seem a bit far-fetched with high-end graphics cards and capable broadband connections, but the difference is evident while playing online using maximum graphics.
As always, playing CS:GB on the highest difficulty level means that bots have the mysterious knack of finding you even in the toughest of hiding places while shooting you across the screen in less than a second of spotting you. Once you’re killed, however, you are able to join the game again by selecting another bot from your team to control.
Another of the changes seen is the update of existing weapons, as well as a few additional items like the Molotov Cocktail, Incendiary Grenades and Taser.
There are many of positives with the game, but isn’t quite off the hook in terms of the negatives. As expected, there were bound to be some changes that rub the fan-base up the wrong way. The first of these is the buying mode, with its radial menu. This means that fans will be spending a bit of time getting used to the new purchasing numbers that many would be able to do with closed eyes in previous versions. Although this is only a slight setback with those playing on PC, it isn’t quite the same when using it on consoles, which means players will have to scroll through the list quite slowly in respect. Valve has countered this issue by means of setting a higher time limit for purchasing, which annoys more than causes an issue.
The second issue comes in the form of impact animations. Although improvement has been made to the aiming aspect of the game, the lack of impact animation at a distance means that it’s not easy to see if players are hitting their targets. Up close, however, there is enough blood splatter making sure there are signs of damage.
There have been a number of complaints from the CS gaming community, mostly involving the blurred sniper cross hairs when following a running enemy and shooting through objects, known as walling. In previous version of CS, shooting enemies you know to be behind a wall or door would yield some damage, if not kill them. Although you are still able to kill an opponent by shooting through wooden objects, the same cannot be said for walls and other solid objects. While these changes may upset the community, it brings about a more realistic element to the game; something that may be added more and more over time.
The fourth issue is the fact that a number of classic levels we have come to know and love don’t feature in CS:GB. Since the game is made available through Steam, there’s no stopping Valve from releasing a simple patch in which these maps can be added once again. In my opinion, in sticking to the scheduled launch date, the decision was made to release the game without these maps. Only time will tell. Despite the missing maps, many of the existing maps have a fresh coat of paint as well as one or two additional changes (e.g. Dust now has a stairwell next to the underpass, as well as a plank over the same section).
As with many of the modern first-person shooters Valve have made only small changes to the original Counter-Strike we first saw more than a decade ago. The difference with Counter-Strike is that it remains faithful to its simplistic roots while not being marketed as something new, but rather an update of sorts. The game has the same unsophisticated objectives (don’t get killed), which creates tension and pressure while navigating the terrain in search of opposition. Global Offensive brings a fresh coat of graphics to the Counter-Strike environment, with additional gaming modes thrown in for good measure. There’s little surprise that it remains one of the most played team games to date.
The game is available via Steam, where it made its debut many years ago, but is now also available on both PSN and XBLA; making a successful jump onto console. Using controllers won’t be a foreign concept for console users when playing this game, although the PS3 version supports the use of a mouse and keyboard, bringing it back to the basics. For a little over R120 ($14.99) you can experience a world class first-person shooter, which provides great single player gameplay features and even more selection in online multiplayer gaming.