Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Review
Counter-Strike is something of a legend in the PC gaming world, a 1999 Half-Life mod that was bought out by Valve and is one of the pioneering titles in the modern, tactical combat shooter genre. Its 2004 sequel, Counter-Strike: Source, arguably perfected the game, and while some veterans still claim version 1.6 of the original mod was when the series was at its peak, what most players can agree on is that Counter-Strike is as good as it’s going to get.
Does Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, then, try to change the series’ magic formula, or is it just a HD remake of an aging game?
Counter-Strike: Global Offnsive
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Valve Corporation, Hidden Path Entertainment
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Released: August 21, 2012
CS: GO is an objective-based multiplayer FPS that pits a team of terrorists against a team of counter-terrorists. Depending on the game type, goals may revolve around planting or defusing bombs, rescuing hostages, or simply killing the other team. AI-controlled bots fill in empty spots on multiplayer servers, and should someone choose to opt for a singleplayer experience, they can play offline with bots — set them on easy difficulty for a great bout of stress relief.
Classic game mode matches play out in rounds. Once you die, you must wait out the round before you respawn, with one notable exception: if you’re playing offline, you can take control of a friendly bot. During a round, you earn in-game currency for completing objectives and killing enemies, which you can spend at the start of a round on weapons, armor, and equipment.
The shop interface is awkward to navigate, potentially due to being designed with consoles in mind, and I often felt panicked as the pre-round timer counted down and I had was still stumbling through the interface. Fortunately, there’s a convenient button that allows you to simply re-purchase the same gear you did the previous round.
The maps you’ve come to know and love from the series make their return, in greater graphical glory than ever before and with some minor layout tweaks. Curiously, though, the only new maps that ship with CS: GO are for its other game modes. Given how many years have elapsed since Source, you’d expect Valve to have more original content to show for it.
Two “new” game modes make it into CS: GO, based on the series’ popular gungame mod: Arms Race and Demolition. Arms Race instantly rewards players with a new weapon upon killing an enemy; the objective is to be the first player to get a kill with every weapon. Respawns are instantaneous, and while two teams exist, there can only be one winner. Demolition is similar to CS’s classic game mode, but rather than allow players to purchase gear, new weapons are awarded after each round that a player killed at least one enemy.
The maps for these two modes are smaller-scale and designed for shorter, more intense rounds. They’re well-executed, accomplish their goal of creating a faster-paced experience, and leave me wondering why Valve didn’t create more new maps.
A matchmaking system promises to prioritize matches based on skill, but it’s too early to tell if this system is working as intended. I can foresee a rift in the game’s community between the “hardcore” players who stick to the classic game mode and the “casual” players who romp about in Arms Race and Demolition; while all the game modes are entertaining, the classic one is the most competitive, and the new ones feel like an appeal to newcomers.
So, eight years after the last installment in the series, what fresh content does CS: GO bring to the table? The two new game modes, for one, as well as the handful of maps associated with them. An incendiary grenade/Molotov cocktail, but otherwise little change in the weapon line-up. The best graphics the series has seen to date, which still can’t compare to a title like Battlefield 3. Considering the fact that the new game modes are based on a mod, I’m hard-pressed to find any noteworthy way in which GO innovates.
But does GO need to innovate? Would this blast-from-the-past retro FPS be better served with some modern FPS concepts, like regenerating health and cover-based combat?
Valve knew better than to mess with a winning formula. The key, then, is in the execution, which GO manages competently. There are some possible hiccups with hit detection/registration, wherein it’s sometimes unclear whether you hit, missed, missed because of lag, or had a shot fail to register, and I did experience some rubber-banding with “only” 100 ms of latency, but overall, the experience is smooth, and the gameplay feels right.
If CS: GO had a $60 price tag, a veteran CS player would be rightfully indignant paying so much for little more than a texture pack. But for $15, it’s absolutely worth it. If you’re a CS fan, GO is a must-buy. If you have yet to experience CS, not only is the $15 price tag a steal, but GO’s new game modes serve as a great training ground for newer players before they’re ready to play in the “classic” big leagues.
- Same great Counter-Strike gameplay
- New game modes
- Awkward buying interface
- Lack of new maps
Final Score: 85/100