War. War Never Changes.
After more than a decade since its original launch on the PC, Counter-Strike hasn’t really changed, and the same goes for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Sure, it’s receiving the full treatment on consoles, but at its core, the same shooting, sneaking, and disarming you’ve come to love over the years is still very much the same. And if you’re a newcomer to the series, I wish you luck; not because Global Offensive is unfair or cheap, but because it’s in a class of its own. If you’ve grown up with tropes like aiming down sights and sprinting, you’ll have your work cut out for you, but trust me when I say that each kill will be that much more rewarding, because you’ll have earned it not by luck or by killstreak, but from skill.
Welcome To Die!
For the newcomers, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a team-based, first-person shooter that emphasizes teamwork. There’s no regenerating health, unlockable perks, experience points to level up with, and more importantly, no respawning (for the most part). While this may initially disappoint those who are nurtured on modern shooters, Global Offensive‘s more cut-and-dry approach to competitive shooting is no less thrilling. The game’s focus on tactics and teamwork sets it apart from other shooters, as you choose between four game modes as part of the counter-terrorist or terrorist factions.
Classic Casual and Classic Competitive are team-based modes that will have you completing different objectives (or eliminating the enemy team), depending on what faction you’re on. While it varies by map, you’ll be tasked with either defending or rescuing four hostages, or defusing or planting a bomb. While the objectives between Classic Casual and Classic Competitive are the same, the differences between them are primarily in terms of difficulty and scope. Classic Casual outfits characters with armor and defuse kits, and friendly fire is disabled. On the other hand, Classic Competitive requires players to purchase armor and defuse kits, and friendly fire is enabled. In terms of length, Classic Casual lasts ten rounds, with its competitive counterpart spanning a whopping thirty. In between rounds, players will have the opportunity to purchase weapons, grenades, and other gadgets with money they earned from completing objectives and eliminating opponents.
The other two modes consist of Arms Race and Demolition. Arms Race, an old Counter-Strike mod which has been adapted by Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops, takes place during a single round, where everyone begins with the same weapon. Each kill will net you a different weapon, until you eventually work your way up to the golden knife. The first player that lands a knife kill wins the match. This is the only mode with respawns, which is a nice change of pace from the other modes. Demolition is a hybrid between Classic Casual and Arms Race, mixing the weapon progression system from Arms Race with the bomb planting/defusing from Classic Casual. While Classic Casual and Competitive consist of maps from older Counter-Strike titles, Demolition and Arms Race feature entirely new maps, with locales varying from banks to lakeside houses.
Killing Me Softly
What makes Counter-Strike: Global Offensive feel so fresh is that it doesn’t conform to the stylings of its contemporary peers. While spraying-and-praying and aerial assassinations might work in other games, Global Offensive penalizes random firing and jumping with large amounts of recoil and spread. Short, controlled bursts of fire is the name of the game, and it isn’t uncommon to see your entire team crouch-walk around corners with trepidation. While series veterans will have an advantage when it comes to map layouts, Valve has included the ability to play offline with bots, allowing you to learn the surroundings and hone your skills if you should choose. There are no levels to achieve or weapons to unlock; instead, there are a series of in-game awards to obtain, some of which will take hours and hours of playtime. While it’s not as addictive as unlocking new weapons or items, it’s a nice addition for players who are into it.
Graphically, Global Offensive is a step up from Counter-Strike: Source. Old maps have been redone to include more details, and while the lighting and fire effects aren’t best in class, Counter-Strike has always been more about gameplay. Your experience will vary depending on which platform you play it on, and while each version holds its ground, there are a few key differences, especially between the PC and console versions.
As expected from past Valve titles, the PC version of Global Offensive ultimately provides the best experience. Servers, mod support, exclusive graphics options, and mouse and keyboard controls are the obvious benefits, and given Valve’s track record of supporting console titles (Team Fortress 2 was abandoned on consoles, and more recently, Portal 2′s level editor was PC-exclusive), the safest bet lies on Steam.
While the Xbox 360 version is more than serviceable, there are a few issues that should be addressed. While the Xbox 360 controller is perfect for playing Halo or Call of Duty, Global Offensive feels less fluid on first glance, and it may take a few hours to get used to the lack of aim-assist. Unfortunately, online play is hampered by lag, and at the time of writing, the friend lobby is completely broken. Because of the competitive nature of the game, Valve has also blocked party chat, meaning you’ll have to play with friends or endure the harsh language that is now ingrained in Xbox Live.
The PS3 version is more on par with its PC counterpart. Those who don’t want to deal with the imprecise nature of analog sticks can take advantage of mouse and keyboard support. PlayStation Move is also supported, but it serves little purpose in a game that requires precision shooting.
The Final Verdict
Counter-Strike Global Offensive tweaks the formula just enough to make it feel fresh, while retaining the skill-based gameplay that fans have come to love over the years. If you’re not willing to invest some time into learning to play things differently, look elsewhere. On the other hand, longtime fans or curious newcomers shouldn’t be afraid to pull the trigger.