In the past several years, shooters have changed quite a lot. Regenerating health, sprinting and aiming down-sight on a weapon are only a few elements that have become standard for modern shooters. Before famous franchises such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo set these and other standards, multiplayer shooters practically required players to be more cautious about their actions and strategy. If you had been shot or wounded by an explosion, health would not come back unless a health pack was picked up, and that is only if there were any in a game to begin with. Apparently soldiers were never taught how to sprint for a short time, and since there was no button to press to improve accuracy, weapons needed to be fired in small bursts if a player was determined to hit their target from a distance. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – a graphically updated version of the popular PC shooter Counter-Strike: Source – contains these multiplayer aspects of yesterday while also delivering new additions to the table.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) is purely a multiplayer experience where players assume the role of a counter-terrorist or terrorist in a variety of locations around the world. The objective of each team is simple: with a total of ten players (five on each team), either eliminate all players on the opposing team or prevent the opposing team from completing the main objective. The majority of the game’s modes have two different scenarios. In bomb scenario, counter-terrorists must prevent terrorists from activating a bomb on one of two bomb sites. With the hostage scenario, terrorists must eliminate all counter-terrorists and hinder them from rescuing the hostages. The hostage and bomb scenarios have always been relevant factors for Counter-Strike (CS), which is a part of why the franchise has sold millions of copies.
The other part, which is the biggest and most important factor, is the unique gameplay style. In order to use weapons or gear, players must save their money each round which can be earned in a number of ways such as killing an enemy, disarming or arming a bomb, or rescuing hostages. Before the start of each match, the game goes through a warm-up round where players are given a large sum of cash and a small amount of time to test any weapon they wish to. While it is a nice addition to the game, it only stalls time for the actual match to start. After the warm-up, everyone starts out with $800 to $1000 to purchase pistols. From there, players use money to purchase an array of weapons such as rifles, machine guns, shotguns, etc. The more powerful a weapon is, the more expensive it will be and vice versa. The weapons are well balanced in terms of cost and firepower. Rifles, for example, cost an average amount of money compared to other weapons and are overall balanced in stats. On the other hand, sub machine guns do not cost as much as rifles, but they are not as powerful either. If you die, you will lose everything you purchased, but if you live through a round, you will keep everything you bought for use in the following round. This brings up the next subject: dying.
What makes CS: GO a fun and addictive game is also what has separated it from other shooters over the years. Normal movements are set at a fast pace, but that does not mean you can gallop around maps, charging into enemy territory like Rambo and expect to live, especially since being shot slows down your movements. It is essential to use caution. Why? Because once you are dead, you stay dead until the start of the next round. As a result, the game teaches you to really think about how the next round will be played out. “What weapons will I buy?” “Do I really want to spend this much right now?” “Which position should I go to this time?” Those were just some of the thoughts I conjured as I waited for each round to start. Since death is permanent, it also makes getting a single kill – or multiple kills if you are lucky – all the more satisfying. Defeating your adversary and knowing he will not be back for the remainder of the round gives a sick sense of pride. Even though matches are usually won by taking out the opposing team, what is equally satisfying are the other methods that can be used to win matches. Rescuing the hostages, arming the bomb and having it explode, and disarming the bomb are all just as exhilarating as surviving a battle.
Fortunately for newcomers to the Counter-Strike series, CS: GO has a training mode as well as a bots-only mode. The training mode will teach you some of the basics of the game as well as the control set up, which is quite different compared to other shooters. A new addition to the controls is a 180 degree turning mechanic borrowed from Valve’s other popular franchise, Left 4 Dead. In many situations, the turning mechanic is useful for taking out an opponent shooting you from behind. It is also useful for making swift escapes from a large group of foes. It takes a little time to get used to it, but once you learn the controls, it works well and feels natural. If you do not feel comfortable with the controls at first, then practicing offline with bots can help boost your skill level. Bots also have difficulty settings that can be adjusted to your preferred skill level suitable for newcomers or veterans to CS.
If you find that you do not enjoy CS: GO’s tactical gameplay, there are two new game modes never before seen in the series. If you have ever been acquainted with Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Gun Game mode, then you will feel right at home with Arms Race. Everyone will get the same weapons and with each kill, players receive a new weapon until someone reaches the maximum number of kills. If you are killed by a knife, you revert back to the weapon you were previously using. It gives people a good chance to test out most of the game’s weapons without having to save money in the traditional modes, but due to the chaotic nature of Arms Race and the fast paced speed of CS, there was a little bit of lag in every match that I played. The second new mode is Demolition. Although it is similar to the bomb scenario, the maps are smaller and there is only one bomb site. You switch sides every 10 rounds and any kill(s) earned within a round will progress you to a new weapon for use in the next round. Between Arms Race and Demolition, I preferred Demolition since it combines Arms Race’s weapon progression with Counter-Strike’s traditional, tactical gameplay.
Though CS: GO is a great game, it is not without its faults. For starters, not all of the maps are available with each gameplay mode. For example, in Arms Race, there are only two maps that can be played on, but the chaotic nature of the mode could have easily used every map the game has to offer. Though the maps are fun, it became boring to play the same two maps every time I played the hostage scenario. For a $15 game, the lighting is well done and the updated classic maps look better than ever. However, the game’s engine, Source, is starting to show its age with not many improvements since the start of the current console generation. The ability to make customized matches and chat privately with friends is also absent, making the game feel more limited than its 8-year-old predecessor. The Playstation version also gets a gameplay edge over the Xbox version. With the Playstation version, players have the choice of using the DualShock controller, Playstation Move, or a mouse and keyboard.
In a genre that has become more and more crowded over the years, CS: GO is a welcoming refreshment that takes us back to a time when shooters were more challenging. Even though the game has particular limits compared to its much older PC brother, it is a game well worth checking out for its unique multiplayer experience, thrills from kills, tactical and addictive gameplay, and a bargain price of $15.
Also check out our first Counter Strike: Global Offensive Review
Robbie Key is a contributor to Analog Addiction. He is also Stephen F. Austin State University’s lone gaming journalist, a blogger for IGN, has a passion for those cryptic things known as video games and most importantly, he is American. You can follow his completely relevant Twitter updates and watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos.