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Published August 27th 2012
A fun, interesting multiplayer shooter worth your time
Counter Strike is one of the most beloved multiplayer shooters on the PC, with a large loyal fan base. This year Valve along with developers Hidden Path Entertainment are bringing Counter Strike to current generation consoles, with Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Hidden Path has been able to improve the graphical elements of the original Source product, along with a variety of weapon and game mode additions. Counter Strike's original formula shines through, providing the throwback gameplay experience for series veterans. However the lack of innovation and variety holds Global Offensive down, leaving a game that though may provide fun feels mechanically outdated.
Though my experiences with Counter Strike Source were limited, Counter Strike: Global Offensive is an online multiplayer shooter at heart, with no single player campaign available almost all your time will be spent online. The ability to practice your skills offline in bot matches is greatly appreciated for new players to the series. The addition of bots also works well; never will you be left in a 3 on 1 skirmish with any empty spots on the team taken by bots. These bots will drop out as soon as new players are added, meaning this doesn't hinder your chances of joining a game. Though you will appreciate the strong AI competition, Bot-Brandon got way more kills against me then he should have. Sadly there is no option for two player split screen matches, so swapping the controller will be the only option for local competition.
This isn't your typical modern-day shooter, there are definitely similarities but this game will typically please another crowd. One of the main differences is the lack of iron sights, meaning the ability to zoom down your weapon's sights to be able to have a better aim and more of an idea where your shot will end up. GO does allow you to zoom down sniper rifles and certain weapons with scopes, the majority of weapons are only guided by small cross-hairs on the screen.
This fundamentally changes the way you play, personally it seems like this mechanic was omitted to make the game a tense experience, making every bullet count. Though in reality, it turns many gun fights into a battle of "Bullet-Spray". A one-on-One gun fight seems to be won by those who typically spray the first bullets, rather than outright skill. However the feeling of chaining three or four miraculous headshots together satisfies, it's few and far between as you will be gunned down in a shower of bullets that would make Tony Montana proud.
Unique to the PlayStation 3 there are three methods of playing, wireless controller, PlayStation Move/Sharpshooter and keyboard and mouse. PC fans should be excited about this inclusion, since now the transition should be as easy as waking up in the morning (Wait, that's not that easy…). This option however is not added to the Xbox 360 version of the game, so depending how you want to play GO your choices should be fairly clear.
The console versions themselves are quite similar; with both providing great servers, apart from a few disconnections on Sony's platform. The game runs well, with almost no texture or frame rate issues (Apart from the aforementioned disconnection), the button scheme does feel odd on the PlayStation controller. With R1 being used to fire, R2 to turn 180 degrees, L1 to switch to knife and L2 for crouching. This layout was hard to get my head around, might have just been a problem for me, but the default scheme on 360 made me feel at home.
GO offers four multiplayer modes Classic Casual which allows you to gain money after each round to buy bigger and better weapons, Classic Competitive which is quite similar to Casual though you are able to buy armour upgrades and Demolition which has one team planting a bomb and the other set out to defuse. All 3 modes are seen in most shooters these days, but CS is able to add their own unique blend that makes the mode feel more exciting, if you die you lose the weapons you have purchased that round. So it is always best to try to stay alive, besting your competitors. Demolition is a lot of fun, each game is best of 20 rounds but these rounds are fast and sharp, you will lose plenty of hours without realizing.
The standout mode for me however is Arms Race; this mode can be compared to Call of Duty's Gun Game. You start off with a predetermined weapon and then work your way through 25 other guns, gaining a kill with each weapon unlocks the next weapon. Once all 26 are complete you are given a gold knife, scoring a kill with this wins you the match. This mode becomes very intense and the ever-present leaderboard at the top of the screen urges you to push harder, scoring 3 quick kills can change the tide of any Arms Race match; this makes for a fever pitched adrenaline rush.
One of the key factors a game needs to be successful, especially online shooters, is longevity. Sadly this is where I feel Counter Strike GO is at its weakest, with only 4 variables in games modes, a small selection of maps (2 on my favourite mode Arms Race) and a less than enthralling awards system. There are no upgrades to purchase, no levels to earn or abilities to unlock, all you are given is a set of awards.
These awards could be something trivial such as "Earn 25 kills with a Desert Eagle" to "Earn $50,000,000", but nothing really happens once you do them. Once complete nothing happens, it now acknowledges you have completed the challenge, but this system gives you no incentive to hunt down every challenge and continue playing.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive sets itself apart from your typical modern shooter; however the lack of zoom will prove hit or miss for many. Those that stick through will be able to enjoy some fast paced online action, which is impressively shown at its best during Arms Race. The lack of split screen multiplayer and incentives hurt the longevity of the title, but the name alone should be able to keep this community going for years to come.
Hidden Path have done a great job for the series, lack of content keeps this from being a true runaway multiplayer hit.
Fun, fast paced gameplay
Addition of bots
Small amount of maps
Lack of incentive to keep playing
I just recently started playing video games with a passion, and I've tried the CounterStrike games a couple of times - so much fun to play, especially when I'm stressed to the max with uni assignments - I feel a sense of relief every time I play these kind of games.
Love your review, btw! It makes me wanna play the game right now! :D