The classic PC game returns with a new coat of polish and a console version.
Counter-Strike originally began as a mod for Valve’s Half-life and became so popular that Valve quickly snapped up the rights and officially released it. And it pretty much became a phenomenon which is still continuing today, which is something that cannot be said about many games. Sure, it has been updated over the years, but each version that was released pretty much stuck to the same formula.
But the fact remains that, despite a release on the Xbox some years back, Counter-Strike is a PC game that many modern gamers would not have heard of. However, all of that is set to change with Valve releasing the latest version of the game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, not only on PC, but also on XBL and PSN as a downloadable title.
Anyone who played Counter-Strike on the PC over the years will feel at home with the new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – there is not a lot that has changed. The game is a fairly simple tactical team-based shooter that casts one team in the polished boots of a counter-terrorist team, while the other group of players have to put on their mean face and play as the terrorists. Each team has an objective and each round plays out until either the objective is achieved (such as rescuing hostages or exploding a bomb) or the opposing team has been wiped out.
The hardcore nature of the game is revealed by the lack of health pick-ups and the absence of respawning. Once you have “bitten the bullet” in CS:GO, you have no choice but to watch the rest of the round play out as a spectator, occasionally screaming out “He’s behind you!”. The game rewards team and tactical play with success, lone wolfing really doesn’t work that well here.
Players earn cash during rounds that can be used at the beginning of the nest round to purchase new weapons and equipment, generally ensuring that things get more interesting as the rounds move on.
Rounds can be over quickly and it can be pretty brutal out there, especially for anyone who has never played the game before. Fortunately, players are able to practice the game by playing with computer-controlled bots, a far less embarrassing way to get up to speed. The bots are, thanks to many years of refining, surprisingly competent and a great way to learn the ins and outs of the game. Playing with bots also allows anyone who doesn’t generally play multiplayer games to get in on the CS action, although buying the game with no intention of playing online does seem kind of pointless. This is a multiplayer game, after all.
Newly added for this version of Counter-Strike are a selection of new guns and grenades to enjoy. There are also some new maps to play with, although these are limited to the new game modes on offer.
The new modes are Arms Race and Demolition. Arms Race has the players being awarded with a new weapon every time they make a kill, gradually forcing the player to experiment with 26 weapons. Demolition takes the idea of rewarding the player with a new gun for making a kill and adds in some objectives for each team. Whilst each of the new modes are enjoyable, they will still likely play second fiddle to the classic modes for the more veteran players. Still, they are a welcome addition to the game.
Visually, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has improved over the previous version of the game, but newcomers may be left feeling a little disappointed by the look, perhaps wondering what all of the fuss is about. That is perhaps a theme that runs through the entire game. For anyone who has played and enjoyed CS over the years, CS:GO on a console is a nice distraction, but they will likely gravitate back to the PC version. Newcomers who have been playing the likes of Call of Duty may find the game a little abrupt, with the lack of respawns, and slightly thin when it comes to game modes.
CS:GO has made very few changes from the previous PC version, which is both a good and bad thing. The game is incredibly slick and plays very well, thanks to the many years of refinement, but is limited in both its appeal and its scope. Counter-Strike will always be a classic, and this version is brilliant if you are looking for some team-based action. However, it may be just a little too retro for new players.