In the 13-year lifespan of the Counter-Strike series, it has been one of the most popular games on PC, namely the Steam platform exclusively. The four official releases following its mod status for Half-Life in 1999 helped set the world on fire with its unique elimination gameplay and unparalleled competition. Does Global Offensive re-ignite the spark that Source lost?
There’s nothing new as far as factions go, there’s still just the Counter-Terrorists vs Terrorists. The Arm and Defuse modes are ever-present known as “Classic Casual” and “Casual Competitive”. Each of which consists of Hostage and Defusal missions with varying difficulty and settings that are easy to get into. These modes are what make Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike. You’re start each round by buying weapons and gadgets to assist you. Dying eliminates you from the round, and can spectate the rest of the match. If you win the round, you win money to spend for next round. Don’t be discouraged if you lose, as you’ll get money for that too.
Introduced to Counter-Strike as an official game mode, called “Arms Race”. It was previously known as Gun Game in CS 1.6 and CS:Source and has been seen in Call of Duty: Black Ops and in Battlefield 3: Close Quarters. You’re placed onto teams for this, which is weird as everyone is competing in a free-for-all. The objective is to “race” to first place with all the kills. There are 26 weapons/tiers to climb. There is no alternate weapon other than your knife that if, you’re strapped on ammo you can slash an enemy for a kill which ranks you up and demotes them a rank. It’s an interesting combination and is the only mode to feature respawn, which is instant.
Another new mode is “Demolition”, which similarly to Arms Race, will award guns for kills. It takes the best out of 20 rounds to declare a winner. During that time, you can rank up one weapon per round for each of the 10 weapons. An optional objective is to plant the bomb as the Terrorists, there is only one site to place it. At halftime, you switch sides and the gun rank is reset.
Unfortunately there aren’t many new maps. There is always friction when creating a new game that has favorite maps from prior games. Don’t include all of them, people complain they don’t have the “good maps”. Don’t include some of them, they complain that they didn’t do all of them. Include all of them from prior games and then the changes made “aren’t what they used to be”.
Global Offensive’s map selection is pretty good, nailing the ones people definitely want to see such as Aztec, Office, Italy, and Dust. All of those maps are reserved for Classic mode and do not appear elsewhere. The new modes Demolition and Arms Race receive new maps for their respective mode. No classic maps, (at this time) are available in other modes. Arms Race only has two maps; Baggage, an airport terminal that is symmetrical and has 3 levels and a center ring to combat on and Shoots, a favela-type symmetrical map with 2 levels and direct access for shots between sides blocked by small huts. Other new maps are Inferno, Bank, and Sugarcane, round out the rest of the maps for Demolition that are well designed and have tons of detail.
Controls are largely the same. The biggest thing here, is that on PC you have the option to play with a gamepad. Why you would do that, I don’t know. It’s very likely you’ll get killed more than anyone else. Previous games allowed such trickery as binding our mouse-wheel to primary fire and by scrolling would allow for quickshotting. That has long since been removed, but keys can be still be rebound to your liking.
The Source Engine is again updated to what must be its limits and provides some great visuals, but nothing jaw-dropping, even on PC. The clean textures and anti-aliasing make the game look best against it’s XBLA and PSN counterparts. Sounds are almost directly lifted from the original game except with higher bit quality, voicework of telling when bomb is planted, defused, etc is all the same and provides a weird sense of nostalgia. Music finds a close resemblance to Call of Duty with a serious and ominous music for menus and as a game begins.
Matchmaking is the focus of Global Offensive and is in-line with how the XBLA and PSN versions behave for finding games. On PC, you can still pull up a Server List to find what you want precisely. You are in matches quickly and are with people your ranking which is scored via ELO. It doesn’t mean you won’t die alot, you’ll just be paired with people that are closest to your skill level. So it is very likely you’ll see the same faces for a while until you or they get better. There was mention at one point that CS:GO would be cross-platform and allow you to play against XBLA and PSN, but that is no longer the case and disappointing, as it would unify the games for a better experience to play with a diverse group of players on any system.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive isn’t offensive with it’s content, but is easily affordable and the best one yet. It’s refined over previous versions and so it provides a quality experience despite the lack of modern shooter trappings such as perks and levelling providing the carrot on the stick, where as the gameplay satisfies that. The new maps and modes break CS:GO from what would be a nostalgic recreation of the original Counter-Strike.