Counter Strike has been a crazy ever present juggernaut since its inception in 1999. Other shooter franchises come, go, and survive based on how they change things or amp everything up, but Counter Strike has been the exception to that rule keeping the game play relatively unchanged since the time when Valve bought the rights in 2000. In 2003 it was released on the original Xbox console, and it was pretty much regarded as a colossal flop. PC purists condemned Valve for bringing their “hidden gem” to the upstart console world, and doing it badly. Speaking of PC, PC gamers will like our Need for Speed Hot Pursuit review (PC). It has been almost nine years since that ill fated port was put out, and did Valve do a better job of bringing their beloved franchise to consoles this go around?
If you have spent your whole gaming life playing things like Call of Duty, then the gameplay mechanics of Counter Strike may seem completely alien to you. There are no kill streaks, no death streaks, no air drops, no dogs, no zombies, and nothing that resembles a perk. There is no choosing a bonus set to give yourself an advantage over your competition. This is shooting at its most pure. That’s not to say there isn’t any variety though – for those who have never experienced Counter Strike before I’ll quickly break it down. You start each game with $800 to buy equipment. Now that measly $800 won’t buy much in the first round, and most everyone will be running around with a Desert Eagle or dual Berettas. After that round, you gain money based on a number of different criteria. Did your team win or lose? Did you reach the hostages (if playing hostage rescue and a counter terrorist)? Did you plant the bomb (if a terrorist playing a bomb defuse map)? How many people did you kill? All of these things (plus a ton more) contribute to how much money you start the next round with. More money equals more and better guns, so it becomes a bit of a strategy game – do you buy a medium powered rifle early and hope you do good enough with it to live or do you under power yourself for a few rounds to save up for the one shot kill sniper rifle? Start playing Competitive (the only way to play in this reviewer’s opinion), and you have to factor in buying body armor and a bomb defusal kit into your purchases to keep you in the game.
Sure, Counter Strike might be toting seriously old school graphics and sound, but that’s part of the charm. Some of the models and textures have been updated for this version of Counter Strike, but don’t go into the game expecting anything Battlefield or Call of Duty quality in those regards – that’s not what Counter Strike is. Valve understands that a good game consists of a lot more than flashy graphics. There are some things that have been taken out that I question – player models used to twitch when taking damage but now they don’t. It makes it a bit harder to snipe when you are expecting that to be there – a small splatter of blood replaces the twitch which is fine, but it is definitely a bit harder to see. For everything taken away though, something has been added. Take the Molotov Cocktail for example – this little beauty covers a small area in flames, temporarily blocking off a part of the map and forcing players to go different ways.
Something else that has been added are two new game “modes” based on the popular mod: Gun Game. These two new modes are Arms Race, and Demolition. While Demolition might sound like something from Call of Duty, the two game modes couldn’t be farther apart. In Demolition, my favorite mode by far by the way, the ability to buy weapons and equipment is completely thrown out. Each player starts with a certain weapon (on the counter terrorist side it is the M4A4, while the terrorists get to rock the AK47), but with each round you get a kill, your equipped weapon gets downgraded. Yes, in Demolition you are punished for being good, and it forces you to prove just how good you really are. While the core of this mode is still a plant and defuse style game, the added difficulty of having your gun nerfed every round makes it super fun. In Arms Race, rather than down, you go up. It is a team deathmatch style mode with unlimited respawning – with each kill you get, you are instantly given a different weapon. The object of the mode is to get one kill with every weapon before someone else, and while it is a fun distraction, it didn’t hold my attention as much as Demolition or the Competitive modes.
For what it’s worth, voice chat worked flawlessly on the PS3, and I only noticed lag in one game on release day, which has been quite refreshing. Not only that, but the PS3 version supports the PS Move, and a keyboard and mouse for the purists out there. I tried all three control methods, and while I’m not very good with the Move it was extremely responsive and fun to use (more responsive than I had experienced with other games). The keyboard and mouse combo was also refreshing since that had been how I played Counter Strike for years – but it was the SixAxis controller that I ultimately used more than anything else. Once I mapped the controller the way I wanted it (you have complete control of what buttons do what), I was pretty much in heaven.
Bottom Line: If you are tired of shooters getting more and more complicated and want to be transported to a simpler time, then Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the game for you, and for only $15, how can you go wrong?
- Hasn’t changed much since it originally came out
- One of the most pure shooters on the market today
- Fast paced and fun, there’s no denying what makes Counter Strike a hit
- Extremely dated graphics might turn some off
- Some of the sounds could definitely be better
Counter Strike: Global Offensive is available on the PSN, Xbox 360, or Steam for $14.99
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