What CS:GO Got Right
- + Updated graphics look great
- + Minor adjustments to classic maps are great
- + Inviting new game modes for newcomers
- + New weapons are interesting
What CS:GO Got Wrong
- - Matchmaking is horrendous
- - New features are few and far between
- - Can't escape that "console" feeling
- - Aiming feels weighted, as if for controllers
Counter-Strike is the grandaddy of online shooters; starting out as a mod based on the ever popular Half-Life, Valve quickly acquired the small team and relaunched it as an in-house product, which quickly rose to prominence on the competitive gaming circuits and has stayed there for over a decade. Since that first release we've seen major updates and re-releases over the years, the most recent until now being 2004's Counter-Strike: Source. Eight years later Valve are back with another re-launch of the resilient franchise, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is set to storm the front not just on PC's, but also the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The real question here is was it necessary?
Check out the official trailer!
Counter-Strike has made a name for itself as a brutally difficult, deadly precise shooter that demands the best of the best to survive, and thankfully CS:GO does little to tarnish this reputation. The game is still frightfully difficult, yet manages to offer a more welcoming approach to new comers, which should see a major influx in the existing community.
It opens the doors via two new game modes, which are highly re-worked versions of the Gun Game mod that has been ever so popular with the hardcore CS community for years. These skirmishes play out as an arcade-like mode where you start off with highly powered weapons and upon each kill you will slowly downgrade your weapons until you're left standing with your knife. Manage to take a soldier out with that and you're the winner, and with instant respawns it should appeal to those who have made the jump from Call of Duty or Battlefield, giving them a fast-paced action mode.
However the bread and butter of the game still lays with the competitive game modes. Veterans will be happy to see that there is a dedicated classic competitive mode which pits two evenly matched teams in a scrim to determine the winner. In this mode body armour is not granted automatically, so you will need to spend your opening cash wisely to ensure you have a kit that will help you survive in the heat of battle. With Valve claiming that their matchmaking system will rank players based upon their performances on ranked servers, this in theory should ensure that everyone is evenly balanced.
Classic Casual is a little more forgiving than the dedicated competitive mode, throwing everyone a bone with a free body armour and helmet upgrade at the beginning of every round. If you're new to the franchise and you grow tired of the Arms Race and Demolition arcade modes, this is where you will want to head to next. Good server population ensures that you will always find a game, and you'll have the chance to play on a number of great maps.
On the whole if you have ever played CS before this release, you'll know exactly what to expect. It's a little sad to think that this really is nothing more than a major update for Counter-Strike: Source.
Veterans will be pleased to see that a number of classic maps have returned, with some fine tuning and a HD coat of paint that makes Counter-Strike look better than it ever has before. The smoke fills the rooms of de_inferno as firefights break out in the buildings, dynamic sunlight fills the empty streets of Dust II like never before, and cs_office has never looked so classy. When it comes to presentation, CS:GO hits the ball out of the park without any questions.
When it comes to new and exciting content, CS:GO fails immensely, with the new features few and far between. There are a total of 8 new maps included, one of which is a re-working of a classic map to fit the new Demolition game mode. What is worse is none of these new maps are playable in the classic game modes, meaning you have to endure the arcade Arms Race or Demolition modes to enjoy them, which is a big blow considering that the classic and competitive modes are the bread and butter of this outing.
There are a handful of new weapons which are always a welcome surprise, but on the whole if you have ever played CS before this release, you'll know exactly what to expect. It's a little sad to think that this really is nothing more than a major update for Counter-Strike: Source.
The shortcomings don't stop there; this iteration of CS is also intended to hit consoles, and as a result the entire game feels like a foreign object on your PC. The game menus are "console" friendly, and the aiming feels far too weighted, as if made for a set of twin analogue sticks. Perhaps the most infuriating aspect is the radial wheel buy menus, which simply don't suit the PC platform, and have blatantly been created for console gamers.
Finally there is the problem of matchmaking, which simply doesn't work correctly. Each and every time we tried to use the in-built matchmaking service we either ended up on a US server with a 200+ ping, or we'd simply be placed into a game full of bots. It's not a major problem - any experienced CS player will automatically search for their own servers, but enforcing yet another console expectation on the PC community, you might as well make sure it works.
The Final Verdict
If you are an avid Counter-Strike gamer, then CS;GO is a no-brainer for you. It's the same fast, furious and difficult gameplay you've enjoyed for over a decade, back for more with a minor selection of new weapons, a HD coat of paint and two game modes that are based on classic mods you would have played in the past. However if you're looking for a game to re-invent the long standing name of CS then you are sure to be disappointed by a title that feels like an update rather than a new release.
By Stephen Heller