Me and Counter-Strike have had some history. I’ve never liked the ridiculously steep learning curve it provided nor the two-minute respawns that had me watching most matches rather than playing, but it still provided some of the best multiplayer experience I have had on PC. The latest iteration of Counter-Strike,Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, carries many traditions of the Half-Life mod and adds some much needed features to get green players off the ground.
If you are looking for a deep storyline full of deceit, blackmail and covert ops then look somewhere else because Counter-Strike doesn’t have a story nor does it need one. Global Offensive keeps to this creed by pitting countless Terrorists against numerous Counter Terrorists in hostage or bomb defusal scenarios across various maps. It’s classic Counter-Strike though some new players might be confused as to why terrorists want to blow up an Aztec ruin or hold up an office with four employees.
The mechanics of Counter-Strike are very different compared to the shooters of today like Call of Duty and Battlefield 3. There is no aiming down the sights for most weapons, no perks or kill streaks, no indicator to whether you have hit the person you have shot at, and no instant respawns (unless you are playing Arms Race). This makes the game feel very rigid and unfair to the point it may put off most new players when they are up against regular players. But this is how Counter-Strike has always been. The controls are simple and refined with everything being at your fingertips. After going through the weapons course and playing a few rounds with the bots you will understand how it is meant to be played. Twitchy trigger fingers and a penchant for unloading your gun into someone at first sight are habits that will net you more deaths than kills. Counter-Strike at its core is a team-based game. A team actively communicating through voice chat can be an unstoppable combination compared to a team consisting of seasoned shooters all going lone wolf. Coming up with strategies and thinking one step ahead of the other team are what keep good players rising to the top, as a well timed rush when the enemy is least expecting it can end a round in less than 30 seconds.
The new game modes added in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are called Arms Race and Demolition, and are known collectively as Arsenal. In these game modes players do not need to worry about money to spend on their load out at the start of each round, as the game picks gear and guns for them with a new weapon being rewarded after each kill. Arms Race follows the fan favourite mod called Gun Game where players race to level up as fast as possible to obtain the golden knife and ultimately win the round. It’s a fast, frantic and often messy affair especially in smaller maps and feels more like Unreal Tournament than Counter-Strike, due to the unlimited lives and fast respawns. Demolition uses the bomb defusal scenario and mixes it with the leveling gameplay of gun game to create a faster and more streamlined approach to the typical Counter-Strike match. Replacing the purchasing of guns with a predetermined one helps even out the playing field, so dominated players won’t be strapped for cash after every round and can afford to practice on different sets of weapons. These matches often have players focusing more on leveling up their character rather than fulfilling any of the objectives, and that may turn off many purists of the game, but they help ease new players into the mechanics and gunplay of Counter-Strike.
Of course the people at Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment haven’t forgotten about the Counter-Strike veterans as the other two game modes are Classic and Community. Classic is split into Casual and Competitive, with the former being more lenient on cash, kevlar and defusal kits being made free. The latter is the closest thing to vanilla Counter-Strike, as nothing has really changed. Community is for the players who love the modification of Counter-Strike and all the modes that have been fan-created. At the time of the review there didn’t appear to be large amounts of surf, zombie and aim servers out at the time, but this is due to the very recent release of the game. From the community servers that were played, they worked very well and were just as good as the ones found in Counter-Strike: Source.
A very welcome addition to the Counter-Strike series was the inclusion of a tutorial in the form of a weapons course. Despite the name, it did not provide all the weapons available in the game to be used on the course, which is odd since there could have been a very useful feature that allows players to get a feel for each gun in this mode rather than taking a risk during a match. The weapons course takes you through the basics from learning the essential FPS art of crouching, jumping and strafing to the Counter-Strike essentials of defusing bombs, firing in bursts rather than holding down and how to reduce the effects of a flash bang which is a highlight of the course. The narrator keeps things interesting with humorous banter and useful tips that make you want to be taught more before it is over. There is an assault course at the end similar to the tutorial in Call of Duty to determine if you are ready or if you want to achieve the best time. It’s a fantastic new addition to the series as past releases only taught you the controls on the back of a card and require you to learn most of the mechanics of Counter-Strike through trial and error on community servers.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a disappointing selection of official maps. Bomb Defusal maps and Hostage maps cannot be interchanged so for each mode there is about 16 in total but from playing the map you will be playing the most is de_dust or de_dust 2. The dust maps have been so popular that they are in a channel of their own but they will still appear when going through the Bomb Defusal or Demolition game modes. The classic maps have had a facelift since their appearance on Counter-Strike Source. Boring old stone bricks and walls have been replaced by run-down market stalls and bordered-off tunnels. Counter-Strike regulars shouldn’t get too comfortable as some passages that were once used commonly may have been removed on your favourite maps only to have new passages appear in another. It gives the old maps a great new feel and a much easier game to look at in general, although some textures are garishly out of date.
Overall Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a solid shooter that can wear the Counter-Strike name proudly. It retains the challenging team-based shooter gameplay of its ancestors while helping newcomers ease into the world through the new game modes and weapons course. However it doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from it’s predecessor Counter-Strike: Source. For those looking to get into the world of Counter-Strike you should look towards Global Offensive, but those still campaigning in Source should wait for a price drop.
True to its Counter-Strike roots | Fresh feel to each map | New game modes that are more accessible to new players
Lack of official maps | Not enough change from predecessor
Raymond is an Editor at Default Prime along with being the Manager and Engineer of their weekly podcast the Primecast. A Fighting Game fanatic, he could talk your ear off about Back to the Future, One Piece and Scott Pilgrim.
Currently he is a British bound Pharmacy Undergraduate.
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Me and Counter-Strike have had some history. I’ve never liked the ridiculously steep learning curve it provided nor the two-minute respawns that had me watching most matches rather than playing, but it still provided some of the best multiplayer experience I have had on PC. The latest iteration of Counter-Strike, Counter-