Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment/Valve Corporation
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Review Platform: PC
Review Copy Provided By: Valve
Release Date: August 21, 2012
When talking about pivotal PC games, games that helped solidify the PC as the premier first-person shooter platform, Counter-Strike is usually among the first games discussed. Counter-Strike has been around for over twelve years and have been modified and upgraded many times since, but over the years has remained relatively unchanged in regards to gameplay. The same is true of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Despite its somewhat antiquated features, this version of Counter Strike is just as fun as those previous.
In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the main game mode pits terrorists and counter-terrorists against each other. The terrorists try to plant a bomb and the counter-terrorists try to disarm it once planted. Either team can also win if the other team is eliminated. The main mode, Classic Casual, doesn’t have instant respawns when you die. Instead, you’re taken into a spectator mode and watch the rest of the match. This breaks up the gameplay in a way that most games don’t allow for. Most shooters have primary modes where you respawn instantly and each team strives to hit an amount of kills to end the game. This spectator mode makes the player sit and watch which, originally,I didn’t want to do. However, as I continued to play I found myself wanting to watch each player kill each other, looking at the map to see one close in on the other and their resulting firefight. The spectator mode also helps identify key strategies to use in later games.
Outside of the main mode there’s a more hardcore version, where friendly fire is on and match length is lengthened, as well as an arms race mode and a demolition mode. In Arms Race mode, rather than buying your guns after rounds to give yourself an edge, the player is given a machine gun and then receives a different gun after each kill. Arms Race is very similar to Battlefield 3’s Gun Master game mode. The first one to cycle through all the weapons wins the match for his or her team. This is a lot of fun and gives the player a chance to try a lot of the guns before having to spend money on them in the classic round. It also has the respawn cherished by so many FPS players. It’s a game where the blood splatters the walls by the end of the match.
Demolition mode combines the classic and arms race modes but with a twist. It is a round based mode (that means no respawns) just like classic mode. However, instead of buying guns before each round, you start off with a powerful gun and then, after each kill, it is traded for a weaker gun. So, if you’re good and massacring the entirety of the other team, your gun becomes weaker and you become less of a threat. This allows for a built-in balancing of teams.
While Counter-Strike isn’t known to blow the typical videophile out of their seat, the graphics in Global Offensive look great. Given the players’ (and therefore, the developers’) desire to keep the frame rate high so there’s no hiccups in the killings, the detail seems pretty good. It’s not comparable to the best PC shooters out there (this is no Crysis) but it looks better than the last Counter-Strike. The environments themselves are updated versions of older maps with more detailed textures but are ultimately still bland. However, the character detail is superb, the weapons look great as the centerpiece of your view, and the blood and death animations of the characters is fun to watch (which is good since you’ll be watching people die…a lot). Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your opponent’s blood pepper the walls behind him (or her) after you nail a headshot.
Before that kill, the loud bang of the guns, the sounds of both you and your opponent spitting bullets at each other, is fantastic. The shots themselves don’t sound that different from gun to gun but in the frantic shootouts that happen in this game, all you really care about is where the shots are coming from, not how they sound. There’s some music at the menus and during the beginnings of games but, just like the frame rate, the players and developers don’t want anything to interrupt the competitive nature of the game so no music is played to drown out the gun fire.
Now lets talk about what Counter-Strike: Global Offensive doesn’t have. This original game was created a decade ago and has a fervent fanbase. If anything major was changed, there would be an uproar, so these missing features may seem huge but are standard components of how Counter-Strike works. First things first for seasoned FPS gamers, you can’t aim down the sights (unless your gun has a scope). Instead, you have a reticule with a moving radius that shrinks to show bullet spread when you stop or crouch. This means you need to have your glasses on when playing because there’s no zoom on regular guns so movement or enemies that are far away are hard to see.
The game doesn’t have experience or perks. Long has it been, indeed, since the norm didn’t include these two RPG elements. But, once Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare arrived on the scene, every shooter seems to need this for players to get a sense of progression. There are Steam achievements that you can kill toward but the lack of experience points does feel weird. Not an omission (because Counter-Strike players would lambast any major changes such as this, if it were added) but it make you feel as though something is missing when you’re still playing match after match without any form of progression to your overall profile. However, you’ll still play all those matches.
For $15, this is a great shooter that will have players populating it for years to come (if any of the previous Counter-Strike games can used as an example). Despite it missing some of the elements that the modern shooter expects, the gameplay itself is challenging and fun. Both the graphics and the sound are good but not stellar. However, they serve their primary purpose which is to enhance the gameplay. Both allow for the game to be more competitive and fun to play than a lot of other shooters because the developers put gameplay over how the game looks and sounds. Despite this fun, though, it could still be considered an updated version of an old game.