Counter-Strike: the first person shooter franchise millions of players around the world recognize and swear by. Originally a Half-Life mod, it quickly grew a life of its own with its inventive and intensive first-person squad-based gameplay. Now, the next iteration has made its way to the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in the form of Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), a game that comes with a new aesthetic, but retains the classic gameplay that made the original such a hit.
Just like the original title, CS: GO is exclusively a multiplayer title. No form of true narrative exists, with just a set of situations that have counter-terrorists trying to defuse volatile situations created by terrorists.
The game basically plays out like this: players select from either two teams, the terrorists or the counter terrorists, and must take on each other in a number of maps while completing objectives. With only one life per round, players must play carefully and as a team if they wish to win the match. The first team to win six rounds takes the game.
First off, the game features an awkward control scheme, which takes sometime to get used to since it’s so different from all the other control schemes in the market. After a while however, it quickly becomes second nature. Based around the original title’s control scheme, which used keyboard and mouse, CS:GO doesn’t follow a modern control scheme set by new shooters. For example, what would be used for aiming down the sights of a weapon is instead used for crouching here, as the only weapons with sights in this game are a handful, like sniper rifles and scoped weapons. Switching to secondary weapons like grenades and knives is another function that takes a few minutes to get used to, and while not problematic, it would have been nice if the developers made the control scheme something more familiar and manageable.
To help combatants take down opponents, the game has a unique monetary system in place which allows players to purchase weapons and items after each round, depending on the team and the each player’s performance. Each player starts the first round with a pistol, but soon after can earn money which can be used at the home base to buy assault rifles, heavy weapons, grenades, and even body armor. From classic weapons like the AK-47 and P90, to new additions like Molotovs and Decoy grenades, there’s a wide variety of weaponry to use in the game. The monetary system is pretty nifty, as it rewards responsible players with the dough to purchase powerful weapons and grenades, while poor players or irresponsible ones suffer the consequences.
Counter-Strike is famous for its realistically represented weaponry, and this version of the game is no different. Each gun in this game feels heavy and accurate, so much so that to successfully take down enemies, players must measure their shots and shoot in short bursts, or risk spraying bullets all over the place. It’s radically different from all the first-person shooters nowadays with unrealistic weapon physics, and to tell the truth it’s quite refreshing, fun and ultimately rewarding, as it requires some effort to get kills.
The mission types depend on the game mode played. While all are based around the standard team Deathmatch, where players seek to eliminate the other team, there’s a couple of alterations. There’s Hostage rescue, where the counter-terrorists must rescue a number of hostages from the terrorists and return to the home base, Bomb Defusal, where terrorists must plant a bomb at a certain location and counter-terrorists must prevent the planting or disarm the bomb, Arms Race, a mode where players must kill opponents to obtain a new weapon, and the first player to kill with the golden knife wins, and finally Demolition, a mode similar to Arms Race, but involves the whole team earning new weapons for each kill they claim. While all of these modes are pretty fun and contain all the good, classic gameplay of the original titles, it’s still missing one of the best modes present in the original: VIP mode. Still, the modes present are better than nothing, and if players wish to practice any, there’s a practice mode as well.
One of the coolest parts of CS:GO is that players can play through some of Counter-Strike’s most classic maps, all brought to the next-gen with updated graphics. Classic maps like Dust, Office, Italy, and Aztec make an appearance in this edition, and feel just like we remember, only they look better this time around and are truly a pleasure to play through. Eight new maps are in this game as well, rounding up the package nicely.
Multiplayer plays well online, with the computer filling out spaces in teams should there not be enough players. While the bot system is appreciated, it can sometimes be problematic as bots are just not as skilled as human players and can affect a team greatly, and can be unpleasant when players just want to play with people. Still, it isn’t too bad.
Players can get recognized for their skills by earning a wide variety of medals. While these serve no purpose other than boasting, it’s cool that the game recognizes player’s mastery of the mechanics and rewards them for it.
Overall, CO:OS is a return to form for the famed first-person shooter franchise. It effectively brings the franchise’s great gameplay to new video game consoles and a lot of new, first-time players. Although the title may suffer a tad from outdated gameplay controls and occasionally problematic matchmaking, the game is as solid as ever, and that’s a good thing.