What began as a fan-made mod for the original Half-Life back in 1999, Counter-Strike swiftly blew up into one of the most popular competitive games in the First-Person Shooting genre. 2003's version 1.6 of the game is still to this day, 9 years later, consistently played with a healthy population. When Half-Life 2 was released in 2004 using its groundbreaking Source Engine, players were eagerly anticipating a Counter-Strike counterpart, and sure enough, CS: Source was released that same year. While technically impressive, fans still chose to cling to 1.6. Now we are in 2012, and Valve along with developers Hidden Path have released the latest installment in the franchise. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released on PC, Mac OS X, PS3 and Xbox 360. The question is, in the midst of a plethora of shooters on the aforementioned platforms, is Counter-Strike still relevant? Will it cater to the hardcore veterans while still provide an easy integration for newcomers? The answer is yes. Yes it is, and yes it does.
The gameplay is what you have come to expect - a never-ending struggle of Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists. You earn money for general kills, types of kills, and objectives that can be used to purchase new weapons and gear. And of course, you run faster with a knife; everyone knows you run faster with a knife.
The game is also heavily team-based. You will rely on your team-mates to help you out just as they will depend on you for cover. CS:GO comes with 4 modes. Classic Casual (respawns) and Classic Competitive (elimination) are your typical death matches, and sport the most maps of any mode. These modes consist of the standard bomb defusal and hostage rescue missions, The objectives for Counter-Terrorists are to obviously defuse the bomb or rescue the hostages before the timer runs out, or to eliminate all threats. The Terrorists have to plant a bomb in designated areas or defend the hostage rescue zones and prevent the Counter-Terrorists from rescuing or defusing by way of elimination. It's quick, it's chaotic at times, and most importantly it's a heck of a lot of fun.
When I say 'Gun Game' most players of this current generation will immediately associate it with Black Ops' Wager Match. That was actually a mode inspired by Arms Race from Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source. Arms Race returns once more in Global Offensive, and the objective is simple; everyone starts out with the same gun, and for every kill you upgrade to a higher tier. Knife kills bring an enemy down a tier. There are two maps for this mode. Both are confined in size, but differ in structure. One is a flatland type of map, while the other is multi-layered.
Demolition is the final mode, and it is similar to Arms Race, where each kill awards the player with a different gun. The difference here is that it challenges players by offering them 'weaker' guns for every kill on top of bomb disposal.One thing that really impresses with Global Offensive is the sounds that were used. Falling, injuries, the classic announcer, even some gun sounds gave off a sense of nostalgia when playing round after round. It felt, and sounded, like Counter-Strike. One tiny gripe was the removal of spray-paints. I'm not sure if this was only for consoles, but hopefully patches and updates can add what is largely considered a staple feature of the series.
The maps are a collection of classic environments from the series. Dust is unequivocally the most popular, the most played on, and personally the most enjoyable. It returns almost exactly as its original form. Other maps like Aztec, Italy, Train, Office, Nuke, and Inferno are all included. If more maps are added in the future, like Snow and Iceland, things will only improve.
This game was reviewed on the PS3, and an interesting note for the console users is that not only are the controls fully customizable, a feature which should be a standard for any shooter, but you also have the option of using a Dualshock 3, the Move, or a Keyboard-Mouse combo. This was a great addition to the controls as it opens up a wider audience of players who prefer shooters with motion controls or a keyboard and the precision of a mouse as opposed to a joystick.
Visually, Counter-Strike is a bit of a mixed bag. The game is still using a version of 2004's Source engine, and it definitely shows its age. Gun models look great, the lighting is most certainly pleasant, and the animations have an old-school charm to them. The environments look, well, aged, and I'm not entirely sure if it was a design choice, or if they were rushed for time. I've encountered a couple of humorous bugs and glitches, like when my gun would have a giant rectangle shooting out from it. Thankfully, the PS3 version supports Steamworks (like Portal 2), which will grant users more consistent updates and patches as it grows.
Despite these minor flaws and infrequent occurrences, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a well-rounded team-based shooter. It's the classic Counter-Strike that many of us grew up on, and it's brought into the current generation with a new face lift. The population is still thriving, and it's at the incredibly low price of 15$; 11$ if you happen to be a PlayStation Plus member.
|Knife = Go Fast.|
|Source showing its age.|
|More maps please.|
|Razor mouse doesn't work with the PS3.|