Review: Counter Strike: Global Offensive – A Rightful Successor to the Throne of Counter-Strike: Source – By Sam Accardo

Sam takes a good hard look at a game he’s been chomping at the bit for, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”. Almost 8 years has passed since “Counter-Strike: Source” was released on Windows everywhere, and while it was a long wait for a much needed update, Valve really pulled out the stops and showed why they’re at the top of the heap when it comes to PC and console shooters.

I love Infinity Ward and the Call of Duty franchise. The first Call of Duty still holds up today and Call of Duty 2 is one of my favorite World War II simulators of all time. And while I was excited for Infinity Ward to innovate and put their stamp on today’s aspects of global combat, I really don’t like how the multiplayer works. I hate perks. I think they’re stupid for a First Person Shooter. I’m sure anyone can make a well-structured argument as to why perks revolutionize multiplayer based FPSes, but I still think they’re dumb.

The whole point of a First Person SHOOTER is that it’s about guns. It’s not about running faster and getting increased damage from killing other people. It’s about aim, composure, and knowing your surroundings. If you die, you die. You shouldn’t have a ‘Last Stand’ and be able to take someone out with a lucky pistol shot as you draw your last breath (but I guess that does sound kind of cool). And don’t even get me started on how much I hate the ‘guerilla warfare’ style of multiplayer. I hate spawning in a location and knowing that I can walk around a corner and some player is in a bush just waiting for me. And while I know that’s spawn camping (which is nothing new), you don’t have a generic spawn location. You can spawn in multiple locations and every location seems to be swarming with enemy forces usually. And while I don’t mind needing to be aware of your surroundings in a shooter, there is a difference between watching your back and checking every window, door, or obstacle just to make sure there isn’t someone camping for an easy kill. If you camp in “CS:S” or “CS:GO” you definitely have an easy time, but you’re at least relatively viewable and someone actually has a chance to kill you where you camp. I realize I sound like an old curmudgeon who doesn’t like new styles of game play, but dammit, if I wanted to play an RPG based multiplayer game where it’s all based on opportunistic killing, I’ll go play Defense of the Ancients.

One of the first improvements I noticed about “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” right off the bat was the matchmaking and how easy it is to use. You just pick a game type, and the game finds a map with players playing and chaos ensuing. While matchmaking is pretty much as old as Halo 2, I like that Valve added it to the CS franchise. As much as I prefer viewing a list of servers with filters for player count, ping, and map, it’s good for the newer players who aren’t used to endless server lists. Other vanity additions, such as dramatic event music (when a bomb is placed for example), is something that really makes the game more intense as opposed to the “Bomb has been placed” voice message and gives it some of the stylistic details that games like the” Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “Battlefield” franchises.

Speaking about the game types, I like that they implemented the community made game types from the days of “Counter-Strike: Source” like “GunGame” into the actual code of the game. It’s called Arms Race in ‘Global Offensive’ and it plays just like you expect it would. It’s a free-for-all where all you have to do is kill anything that moves. It’s great for a night when you just want to jump on, piss some people off, and mess around with a few guns you may not normally play with. They also have the signature objective-based game types of Counter-Strike such as Demolition (where you plant the bomb or you have to defuse the planted bomb) and rescuing the Hostages. And like in the older versions of CS, the game types are dependent on the map you choose. (Although I was able to play a rousing round of Arms Race with my buddies on Dust with the bomb enabled.) In addition to the gametypes being specific to the map, the Terrorists’ and Counter-Terrorists’ models (costumes) change based on the map. In Dust, you’re wearing desert style clothing. In Office, you’re the common SWAT-esque Counter-Terrorists while the Terrorists look like cyber-terrorists with hoodies, masks, and jeans. It gives the game and the teams a nice sense of cohesiveness which I felt was lacking from Counter-Strike: Source.

The maps themselves are awesome. They have the classics such as Italy, Office, Aztec, Dust, Dust 2, Nuke, Train, and Inferno whilst adding some new maps like Baggage, Shoots, Shorttrain, Bank, and four others for a total of 16 maps. All of the old maps have been updated with minor additions. Dust seems to have the most noticeable layout changes, but they only help the flow of the map so there are less dead-ends when traversing the level. All of the graphics, décor, and lighting have been updated to look beautiful and reflect their place of origin more realistically. It’s one of the first things one would notice that looks different, and Valve pulled out all the stops by updating the maps but still making them reminiscent of the classic maps from their previous versions.

The additional weapons are interesting as well. They replaced common guns (Schmidt Scout) with more updated guns (that are still the same type), and they added 2 shotguns to the mix. There are also 3 new SMGs (one of which replaces the MP5 to my dismay). The shotguns seem the most powerful in my opinion. They can still get beaten out by a well placed shot from an M4A4 or an AK-47, but whereas a headshot is much harder to get, a body shot with the Nova at close range (or medium or far range for that matter. It’s like the freaking DOOM shotgun!) is 9 times out of 10 a definite kill. The pistols are still fun and can hold their own against more expensive guns if you know how to use them. And the addition of the Tec-9 is one of my favorite additions as the gun has a certain flavor I don’t get from any of the other pistols. Unfortunately, the SMGs kind of suck when you stack them up against the other guns. The P90 is pretty much the only stand out because of its 50-bullet clip and mid-range accuracy. The machine guns are about the same, but the new Negev is a nice addition. The M249 was getting a bit stale.

Overall it’s pretty hard to find something to hate about this game. All of the updates are well done, and the game still has the fast pace of the Counter-Strike franchise. What I’m most excited about is that there is finally a game for all the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” players to upgrade to. I mean, don’t get me wrong, ‘MW3’ takes some amount of skill. But when you stack it up to “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”, it seems like child’s play. Your health doesn’t recharge. And you don’t have a final stand or perks to get you out of a jam. And that’s why Counter-Strike will always be a much more intense game than Modern Warfare 3. In CS:GO, you actually care about not dying. I would contend that this game should be game of the year if it wasn’t for the fact it’s essentially just a remake. While there is something to be said about “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” having got a nice head start from the versions before it, Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve deserve a lot of credit for being able to remake a 12 year old franchise into one of the best multiplayer shooters of 2012.

 Sam hasn’t had this much fun playing Counter-Strike since his surf days back in late middle and high school. He recommends that anyone who likes ‘FPS’s should pick it up for a measly $14.99. Any Modern Warfare 3 fanboys should check their hate at the door. Welcome to the Bigs, kids. Follow Sam Accardo on twitter @samcar455

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