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Counter Strike: Global Offensive review

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Price when reviewed : £12
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Evolution rather than revolution, but one that’s been a long time coming

Counter strike is synonymous with the multiplayer first person shooter genre. It’s been around since 1999 (or the dawn of time in online gaming terms) and is still being played by millions of people every day. Although the gameplay remains as tight as ever, the dated graphics simply weren’t going to cut it for today’s demanding gamers – enter Global Offensive. It’s a complete overhaul of the game we know and love, with a new game engine, redesigned maps, character models and sounds, new weapons and more accessible game modes.

Valve attempted to update Counter Strike once before with CS:Source. It was incredibly popular, but also inconsistent – many of the intricate details crucial to competitive play were lost in translation, meaning many players stuck with the older game rather than learn new recoil patterns and grenade physics. This latest iteration looks to avoid the pitfalls of the past, combining the graphics of an updated Source engine with the fine tuning and precision of the original 1.6 release.

Counter Strike Global Offensive

As the majority of Valve’s employees are working hard on DOTA2 (and, we hope, Half Life 2 Episode 3) a third party developer has been drafted to help finish Global Offensive. Having worked on Left 4 Dead 2, the franchise is in the good hands of Hidden Path entertainment, who have already implemented a number of rebalancing updates based on player feedback during the open beta.

If you aren’t familiar with how Counter Strike works, you may be surprised that its two main game modes can be found, in one form or another, in almost every team-based fps available today. The most popular is defuse mode, indicated by a map’s DE_ prefix – they pit a team of terrorists, tasked with planting a bomb in one of two locations, against a team of counter-terrorist soldiers who must stop them at all costs.

Counter Strike Global Offensive

Each match is split into a series of rounds, where death means sitting out the clock while your teammates fight on without you. Because there are always two bomb sites to choose from, the counter-terrorists must balance their forces between them to keep them defended. If the bomb gets planted and you fail to defuse it before it blows, that round goes to the terrorists.

Although less popular from a competitive viewpoint, hostage rescue maps (easily spotted by the CS_ prefix) put the terrorists on the back foot, defending a group of AI-controlled hostages from the assaulting counter-terrorist forces.

Two new game modes have been added to Global Offensive, providing extra replay value beyond the gameplay we’ve come to expect from the series. Both are riffs on existing user mods made for the original Counter Strike.

Arms Race is an action-packed instant adrenalin rush, which puts one weapon in your hand and them rewards you with a different one after every kill. It’s a race to the finish, which can make for some hectic and fast-paced games. If you’re killed, you re-spawn instantly, so there’s no waiting around to get back to the action. Demolition combines the weapon awards of Arms Race with the objective-based gameplay of the defusal game type. Here, the challenge is to defeat the enemy team with a series of progressively weaker weapons.

Counter Strike Global Offensive

What makes the game are the maps. Classic ones such as Dust, Aztec, Office, Nuke and Inferno have all been lovingly recreated, with more detail than ever before. New maps too share the same design ethos, with large open areas reserved for the demolition game type and tighter, more compact levels saved for Arms race. Series veterans will love the new looks, as it makes them feel much more lifelike and less like a closed arena.

Counter Strike has always been a thinking man’s shooter, even if it doesn’t appear so on first inspection. It takes a lot of teamwork to get beyond the first hurdle of online play, so you might not get the most out of Global Offensive unless you invest the time. Although Counter Strike introduced many people to online multiplayer games, the refusal to add any significant changes to Global Offensive also makes it feel rather simplistic compared to today’s shooters. Aspects such as rank progression, character customisation and weapon unlocks are all rejected in favour of old school action. However, if you’re yearning for a game that puts more emphasis on tactics and teamwork than lone wolf gung-ho chaos, this is a worthy update that’s well worth your attention.



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