The original Counter-Strike released in ‘1999’ as a mod of Half-life became the common template for all later online FPS multiplayer games and gained massive popularity. Now Valve Corporation and Hidden Path Entertainment have attempted to revive this classic by releasing an Arcade remake with new graphics, A.I., sound, physics and online multiplayer.
The original concept of Counter-Strike was to pit two teams of actual real-life human players against each other in simulated FPS combat- focused around a single objective. Before this no one had ever fought against each other in a 'team' online shoot ‘em up environment. The success of this idea, as we know, was monumental.
Like its predecessor Global Offensive attempts the same concept, a game entirely based on online multiplayer combat, lacking any campaign or story of any kind. And even though this is only an arcade game I would have expected a lot more bearing that fact in mind. The only major new introduction is a new mode called ‘Arms Race’ which fails to improve on or even compete with the original modes.
The basic modes stack two teams of 4 or 5 against each other in pretty limited and unimaginative sandbox maps. One side will be the ‘Terrorists’ who will either have to plant a bomb at one of two designated sites or protect a group of A.I. hostages. The other team will be the ‘Counter-Terrorists’ who will either have to wipe out the Terrorists, disarm the bomb before it detonates, or rescue the hostages. Quite standard stuff, but to be forgave because the real appeal to the original and indeed this game is the ability to purchase weapons, armour, grenades and gadgets between rounds with cash accumulated through performance. This adds a fantastic edge to the game-play giving good players tactical advantages and increasing teamwork capabilities. Buying items for your comrades or working together to achieve bonus cash can really give teams an advantage. It is therefore a real shame that they failed to emphasize this feature and even removed it altogether in Arms Race mode.
A classic concept revitalized but lacking anything significantly new
= 7.5 / 10
MAPS AND MODES
The mode ‘Demolition’ is based around two teams of 4 or 5 competing towards either the elimination of the other team or the planting / defusing of a single bomb. One of the Terrorists will be randomly equipped with the bomb who can either pass it to another member or attempt to plant it in the bombsite. This focused gameplay allows for a lot of room to be tactical instead of simply running around in a team deathmatch environment. This is facilitated by the fact that successful detonation or the bomb getting defused will result not only in victory but also a great boost of cash to the players involved. There are only six maps in Demolition, they are all small and almost symmetrical with either team placed on either side of the bombsite. Some of the maps offer decent tactical advantages but these are very limited and no real thought went into the design of any of these maps. However despite the basic maps Demolition is definitely the most appealing and enjoyable gametype in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. I am very disappointed that they didn't bother to make some new modernized maps for this potentially great release.
The 'Classic Casual' mode is also based around two teams competing towards an objective. However the objective is dependent upon the map this time with either a slightly different form of Demolition or a Hostage based mode. There are eight maps altogether; with Nuke, Inferno, Dust, Dust II, Train and Aztec focused around the planting of a bomb, this time with two different bombsites offering a deceptive theme to the gameplay. And with Office and Italy as the two hostage based maps. Again all these maps are very lineal and basic, there is not much detail or tactical vantages. 'Casual' is the like the easy setting of the game, with the match being decided by the best of only 10 rounds, friendly fire and team collision turned off and 50% kill rewards. Also you will be given new armour and bomb defusal kits for free each round. The game also offers a greater challenge in the form of 'Classic Competitive' mode. This is identical to Casual except the match isn't decided until one team gets the best of 20 or 30 rounds, friendly fire is on and will penalize your cash, team collision is on and you will have to buy new armour and kits each round if you are damaged or die. Like Demolition these modes are enjoyable and diverse in terms of action but are still limited in terms of environments, again greatly disappointing anyone who expected anything new here.
The final mode is the all-new 'Arms Race' mode, the objective of which is to gain 26 kills cycling through a new predetermined weapon with each kill. Although this mode is set out in two teams you are in fact alone in your kills and your teammates only serve to steal kills from you and distract the enemy. You begin with a standard SMG then each time you kill a new weapon is automatically shoved into your hands until you progress through all the weapons ending with a knife. If you die you simply respawn with the same weapon you died with and continue. The tactics in this mode are annoying and unrealistic; everybody will gain advantage by running around idiotically trying to get a kill/suicide to progress their weapons. There are only two maps and these are small and dull, dull, dull. Arms Race is a terrible addition to the Counter-Strike franchise up to the point of hateful.
Recycled old boring maps with an awful new mode
= 2.5 / 10
WEAPONS AND GADGETS
The weapons themselves are extremely diverse and well balanced, from pistols, Sub-machine guns and shotguns to assault rifles, light machine-guns and sniper rifles. The firepower, firerate, accuracy and your movement speed with that particular weapon are the aspects the game has focused on. These differ greatly between weapons and so to does the feel, range and capabilities. You can carry three weapons at a time; a main large weapon and you are restricted to a knife and a pistol for the other two. You can also carry two different types of grenades. This gives the players a lot of scope to the variety of their strategies.
The game has aptly based the prices of the weapons vaguely in accordance with their usefulness or power. The standard P2000 pistol will set you back a mere $300 whilst the advanced scoped SCAR-20 assault rifle will cost $6000. You can earn cash by injuring, killing and otherwise attacking your enemies, planting, defusing, detonating the bomb, protecting or rescuing the hostages and winning rounds. However you will cash penalties in competitive mode by injuring or killing your teammates or the hostages. These cash awards or deductions are fair and change the gameplay from other shooters by encouraging teamwork and attention to objectives.
Gameplay is also diversified by the inclusion of many different tactical gadgets and grenades. Your basic kevlar armour and helmet go a long way to protecting you from damage, your smoke, flash and decoy grenades create distractions and advantages. And such unique items like the Zeus X27 (Taser gun) and quick bomb defusal kit can be the difference between victory and defeat.
Diverse, tactical, enjoyable and well-balanced weapon system
9.0 / 10
The default controls of CS: GO are quite basic but serve well enough. Some unusual choices passed down from the original such as LT to crouch and B to reload offer a different approach to the way you control the action. The feature to hold LT to crouch is actually a very innovative way to control your fire, holding it doesn't only make you crouch but also focuses your weapon (indicated by the reticle) making you more accurate. Another unusual feature is the ability to spin turn 180 degrees, this at first seems undesirable but mastering this reaction works great to avoid flashbang grenades and to evade fire. The controls are fully customizable and you can map any button to any action, this is the way all games should be, but some of the defaults can be advantageous.
The environmental controls and interactions are very poor in this game, for example: if you wish to pick up a new weapon from the ground the option to do so is activated by an impossibly small area making it annoying and sometimes costing you your life. Also having two separate buttons to change weapon can often be confusing (even with mapping this cannot be changed), whereas it is LB to change to your knife you have to press Y to change back to your main weapon and you have to cycle through two sets of weapons with LB and Y, LB cycling through the knife, grenades and bomb, and the Y button to cycle through your main weapon and pistol. With practice the controls can become second nature but avoiding the fidgety environment interactions is impossible.
Full control mapping but a lot of frustrating environment interaction
= 6.0 / 10
In a game where you rely quite heavily on bots and hostages the A.I. is very disappointing and often leads to incredible frustration. In general the A.I. are clumsy and stupid. Changing the difficulty does not make the enemy A.I. more strategic or realistic neither it makes them automatically know where you are at all times and guides their bullets directly between your eyes every time. Your team mates will not help you, they will run into the open, never seeking cover, and stand still while they slowly shoot a dancing enemy bot. The enemy A.I. is much the same except they tend to move around in a very annoying pattern like a jack rabbit. The real annoyances come from the hostages, they are dodgy- what I mean by that is they get stuck a lot and they struggle to follow you around the simplest of objects, like massive open double doorways!
Annoying and stupid, especially in such an A.I. reliant game
2.0 / 10
SOUND AND MUSIC
Mainly showcased through gunfire and explosions the sounds of Counter-strike need not have been spectacular. Unfortunately though they are not even sufficient; most weapons sound almost identical, there is little in the way of diversity in surfaces and all explosions seem to be of one pre-recorded sound. Shoot any metal surface in any map with any gun and hear the same sound, break any glass of any kind – same sound. Same annoying voices of teammates and same dull action music when the bomb has been planted. The only redeeming point is that the sounds are for the most point sharp and clear, otherwise they fall flat on deaf ears.
Although reasonably clear they are dull, lazy and repetitive
= 3.5 / 10
Powered by an allegedly improved
version of the 'Source²' engine, the graphical effects and animations of CS: GO are sufficient enough. It has improved slightly since it's predecessor but fails to compete with similar arcade titles of its time. New lighting and shadow effects add some new depth to gameplay but fail to offer any true realism. Effects of breaking glass and boxes (of what little there are) are very poor indeed. The smoke produced from Smoke grenades looks like it belongs in an old PS game and such effects as bullets and blood splatters are even worse.
The environments themselves, because they are so basic, can offer little in the way of impressive graphics. No contrasting night and day maps, no water effects of any kind, no fire effects, no weather effects of any kind neither. Even the reflecting sunlight and shadow directions are wrong in some areas of certain maps.
Animations of the bots and hostages are laughable, hostages especially look like wacky cartoonish mannequins cluttering their way along. Apart from the floating up stairs and from surface to surface, standing on thin air and shadows appearing through solid surfaces the graphics are great
Poor effects, no aspiration, poor animations and plenty of mistakes
= 2.0 / 10
Also powered by the 'Source²' engine the physical environment of CS: GO is again extremely basic and lacks any imagination. Obviously a great improvement from its predecessor but nowhere near competitive with other similar arcade titles of its time.
The only physics even included are character collision and deaths, grenades and the rare occasional breaking glass of other small items. Although the deaths are not pre-rendered they are a restricted form of rag-doll that tends to limit the diversity of death actions. The bodies seem too heavy and do not fall correctly, grenades do not bounce true and things like glass and other breaking objects disappear instead of falling to the ground.
Overall gravity and effect are entirely unrealistic and environments lack destructibility
2.5 / 10
Supposedly the strength of Counter-Strike was the option to tear away from the terrible A.I. bots and take your skills to compete against the world. Powered by the 'Steam' engine and protected by the 'Valve Anti-Cheat' system the online multiplayer is the main focus of the game. You have the option to quick matchmake, taking you swiftly to the nearest lobby with the, allegedly, best connection. You can search a custom match limited to choosing only your preferred mode. And you can gather friends and matchmake together. The killer about playing with friends is you cannot talk to each other using a party and are forced to communicate in-game, this makes boosting very difficult but also makes it impossible to taunt your friends if they are on the enemy team as in some modes they can’t hear you. Whether this was an intentional decision to discourage boosting or a mistake is unknown but it does make one wonder why they have a feature called ‘Join Xbox Live Party’ when you can’t use an Xbox Live party, hmm.
As for lobbies and connections they are extremely laggy and poorly networked. (This information is sourced from many different people from around the world and not solely on my own experiences). From day one the servers were awful, if you aren't lagging to death you are simply disconnected repeatedly.
The online all but died less than six months from release, a far cry from the expectations of the successor to one of the most popular online games of all time. The fact is that we are offered the same general regurgitated game of the original which even as an arcade title cannot compete with MP games of this era.
Badly networked, mistakes in design and poor matchmaking capabilities
= 2.2 / 10
There are only 12 achievements in CS: GO, all are obtainable (although tougher) offline and most are reliant on skill during combat. Some of the easier ones will be unlocked without any effort such as dominating a single enemy and killing an enemy with the last bullet in your clip. Other easy accumulative ones will unlock without noticing; such as inflicting 2,500 points of damage and earning $50,000. Getting 250 headshots and a kill with every weapon in the game will require a little attention but nothing great.
If there wasn't a trick to unlocking ‘Rampage’ (surviving an entire Arms Race without dying) it could have proven quite intense. However there are two achievements that do require either a lot of skill and luck or a boosting party:
The ‘Clean Sweep’ achievement requires you to kill the entire opposing team without you or anyone else on your team receiving any damage at all.
And the slightly harder ‘First Things First’ achievement requires you to personally kill the entire terrorist team before the bomb is planted. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a challenge on easy, the real difficulty comes from your own team members (which you can’t disable offline) stealing your kills.
The only real imaginative achievement is the ‘Awardist’ of earning at least 100 different awards.
These awards range from simple wins on certain maps and accumulative kills with certain weapons to more interesting team based and tactical awards that encourage diverse and imaginative gameplay. All of the other achievements are also an award so working towards this achievement in general is a primary concern and advantage. There are actually 167 awards available so this is not altogether a difficult achievement however many are long grindy awards that will come eventually as you work towards the two mentioned below.
The real crippling feature of all of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive comes from two massively excessive accumulative achievements. The 'God Of War' and the 'King Of The Hill' achievements of 10,000 kills and play 5,000 matches, (2,500 through a favourable glitch in the programming), really spoil the entire experience of this game.
Even for those who love the game and don't mind grinding, these achievements are only practically obtainable by playing the one mode that has no replayable value; 'Arms Race'. Although you can get kills in any mode there is no point in playing the other fun modes since you should play Arms Race to accumulate the matches played as you go because Demolition matches take far too long.
Arms Race mode as I've explained above has no mission objectives, no teamwork, no purchasable items and only two small maps. So unless you want to buy a game only to idle boost it for up to 250 hours or actually play the most repetitive mode over 2,500 times I’d avoid this title altogether.
GAMEPLAY = 7.5
MAPS AND MODES = 2.5
WEAPONS AND GADGETS = 9.0
CONTROLS = 6.0
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE = 2.0
SOUND AND MUSIC = 3.5
GRAPHICS = 2.0
PHYSICS = 2.5
ONLINE PLAY = 2.2
ACHIEVEMENTS = 4.1
A sloppy and unimaginative regurgitation of a classic that could have been so much more
OVERALL = 41.3 / 100