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Game Review Hub: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Genre: multiplayer first person shooter
Platform: PC, Mac, XBLA, PSN
Developer: Valve Corporation, Hidden Path Entertainment
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Estimated Length: n/a
Rating: 3 out of 5
I have been playing Counter Strike games for quite a while now, and I have developed a real love-hate relationship with the series. On the one hand, some unique game-play mechanics really set these games apart from the world of Halo and Call Of Duty clones out there and make CS really enjoyable to play. On the other hand there are a few serious problems with the series that hold it back from really being great.
Counter Strike Global Offensive is the latest iteration in the classic Counter Strike series of multiplayer shooters. There are a few things which make this series interesting and unique. One of them is the way in which battles are set up. Every round consists of a small team of terrorists and a small team of counter terrorists. Most matches either consist of the terrorists trying to bomb one of two checkpoints, or the counter terrorists trying to save some hostages that the terrorists are holding. The key difference between this and other shooters is that once you die in a round, you stay dead until the next round. In addition, at the beginning of each round you have the opportunity to purchase weapons and equipment with money earned from kills and successfully completing objectives. Rounds can be won by either eliminating the opposing team, or completing an objective.
These differences make for some interesting and unique gameplay scenarios. The lack of set weapon pickups means that each player is able to strategically choose their weapon for different scenarios; that is as long as they can afford it. If money is tight, you may be forced to use a less than ideal weapon. The objective based scenarios also make it difficult for people to camp in one spot waiting for unsuspecting prey to walk into their cross hairs, because while they are camping, the other team is bombing their objective and winning the round. The permanant death also encourages cautious and strategic play.
Now counter strike also has some quirks which can be troublesome. In the first shooter video games, shots did a set amount of damage regardless of where they hit the target. As games matured, developers began using area specific damage, which meant that more important body parts recieved more damage when shot. In short, headshots did plenty of damage, while arm shots did less. Counter strike takes that idea to the extreme. One headshot will almost always bring an enemy down, which is typical in an FPS, however damage to any other part of the body is trivial. The result is that players can get shot literally dozens of times in the back or legs without dying. Now this mostly serves to reward more experianced players, because headshots are difficult and should be rewarded, however many times the lack of results from a few decently placed shots make the game feel broken.
The game also seems to suffer from a general lack of balance. Frag grenades do not seem to do much damage, but the desert eagle and the infamous AWP are almost always one shot kills. Sub-machine guns are terribly weak, but shotguns are super powerful. While none of these things breaks the game all together, they do seem like serious oversights on the part of the developers, and the result is that you will see some weapons overused and some weapons never used at all. In addition, many of the levels in the game seem to seriously favor one side of the map. Maps in counterstrike are rarely symmetrical, which is great, but the result is that often one team is at a great disadvantage. I have played rounds where one team won every match, and then switched sides and lost every match. This shows a serious problem with the design of the levels.
Now on to the new content, or lack thereof. Counter Strike GO is a game which rests squarely on the accomplishments and nostalgia of its predecessors. There is very little new content, and the whole game is basically just an updated version of CS: Source. Luckily some of the new content is actually pretty good, or else this game would not be worth anything. There are also some usability updates, such as a game finder option which throws you in to the game type of your choice, rather than having to search through a server list. The server list is still available for all of you crazy people out there.
The weapon lineup is almost unchanged. There are a few tweaks to the names and skins of some of the guns, but all of the same stuff is there. If you like the semi-automatic sniper rifle, you got it. If you roll with 9mms akimbo, you got that too. All of your favorite levels are in the new game as well. Dust, Dust 2 and Aztec are all back, and they have even made a few changes for the sake of balance, which all seem to work out for the best.
There are also a few new levels, and two new game types for those players looking for something different. They added an official game type called Arms Race, which has players advancing through a set series of weapons as they get more kills. Each kill gives you a different gun, until you get a golden knife. Once you kill an enemy with the knife, you win. This game type is a lot of fun and plays more like a traditional shooter, with faced paced shooting and instant respawn. The downside is that by default, the game will only let you play this on two levels without using the server browser to find a custom game.
The other new game type is called demolition and is a hybrid of Arms Race and the traditional match. These matches are played on some of the new maps and have bombing objectives. The hook is that each player starts the match with a set weapon, and only progresses to a new one on the next round if they get a kill. The awarded weapons cycle through a few rifles, then a few pistols. The result is that a few players get some kills in the first few rounds, only to find themselves wielding a 9mm against an enemy team with m4s. I found this interesting but got sick of it after a few rounds.
Looking for something similar?
Counter Strike: Source
As much as there are serious problems with Counter Strike Global Offensive, they are all familiar to Counter Strike fans. In spite of these problems, I still really enjoy playing this game. I think Valve could have done more to add new content to the game, but I did enjoy the few additions that they did make. I would strongly recommend this game to fans of past Counter Strike games, and I would recommend it with a few reservations to shooter fans who are looking for a more unique experiance than what most of the other cookie cutter games have to offer.
Please note, this review reflects my experience with the PC version of the game. I did not play any other versions of the game before writing this review.