Counter-Strike Global Offensive
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had some rather unhealthy gaming addictions in the past. These began with the little gold box edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games, such as Pool of Radiance and Champions of Krynn, which were the precursors to the now classic Bethesda RPGs (Tales from the Sword Coast, Baldur’s Gate, etc.). When fighting games began to bloom around the same time, with games like the goofy Double Dragon series and of course, the one that changed them all: Street Fighter 2, I think I may have developed early onset carpal tunnel syndrome by wearing a joystick or five while playing these gems.
When Valve Games first burst onto the scene with their sleeper-turned-mega-hit, Half Life, I glommed onto that as well, and played it over and over until the wee hours of the morning. Not too long after that, they dropped another bombshell in a Half Life mod which rocked the gaming PC community and brought it to its knees. That mod was called Counter Strike, and featured a highly addictive, crack-like, fast-twitch style of FPS gameplay that quickly vacuumed up hours of my life—which gave way to days and then weeks.
What I really liked about the original was that two teams of players faced off against one another over a fun map, and duke it out until one team was victorious and the other was dead. Doesn’t sound too different or unique from anything else does it? Well, the catch was that when you got killed—that was it, you’d have to sit out the rest of the match and watch your fellow men-at-arms as they fought for their lives, all the while yelling at your computer screen in a vain attempt to warn them of nearby enemies. As if they could hear you. Ah, the good ol’ days…
Well, as with many gamers from that era, I’d like to think that I’ve matured a bit over the years. Hyper, fast-twitch games like the original Counter Strike began to bore me because of their lack of innovation as well as the preponderance of 12 year olds that seemed to populate their servers. Hacking was becoming a huge issue at that time, and the gamers with the best aim bots and exaggerated bunny-hopping techniques won the day. By then, I’d moved on to more strategic (for their time) games such as Joint Ops, Ghost Recon, and even Battlefield 2.
When I’d heard that Valve had updated their venerable shooter, titled Counter-Strike Global Offensive, I hardly batted an eyelash. I figured that since Valve had become more or less like the Capcom of the United States, with its Counter Strike brand sort of representing the Street Fighter of FPS’s. Heck, even Left 4 Dead was like their Street Fighter of zombie games, super-fast-paced and saccharine enough to please the throngs of hyper-active gamers out there who have the attention spans of goldfish on meth. But I digress. More recently, I finally had some time available and so recently tried CS:GO, and here are my impressions…
Just as Capcom has seen fit not to offer gamers anything revolutionary with its titanic, unwavering, Street Fighter series, so too has Valve not exactly reinvented the wheel with Global Offensive. In an age where larger, more established gaming corporations are afraid to take chances, lest their bottom lines be tampered with, they have played it safe and only made minute adjustments to their tried and true formulae. In CS:GO, You’re still on rather smallish maps and you still have two teams with more or less the same weapons. You’re still hunting each other down and feverishly bunny-hopping around while trying to land that perfect headshot.
In an age where FPS’s have grown stale with the same ol’, same ol’, and many developers have sought in turn to renovate, invigorate, and innovate within the genre, Valve has offered us basically a slightly better looking version of the same old game. While this may be fine for gamers who have come to love the stripped-down, simplistic shooter, even many of them quickly grew tired of the stale, uninspired gameplay. In fact, CS: GO only offers up a handful of new weapons, and out of its sixteen maps, most of them are recycled updates from the original.
To its credit, the more casual gaming crowd, and younger, prepubescent kids and tweens may find CS:GO to be a faaaaabulous fun ride, with all of the depth that they can, or wish to, deal with. Not every FPS has to have the depth of a Project Reality or Arma 3; some folks just want to jump onto their (or their parents’) PCs and get some quick, fast-twitch action in, and that’s enough to satisfy them.
As far as game modes go, in addition to the more standard Bomb Defusal and Hostage Rescue-type matches, CS:GO brings two new modes to the table. The first one is called Arms Race, which is basically a run and gun game with a shiny new title. In this mode, players have unlimited respawns and they also receive a new weapon after every kill. This mode is even more frenzied than normal, as it allows you to essentially jump right back into the action right after each time you’re killed, rather than sit it out on the sidelines and wait for the matches to be over with.
The other mode is called Domination, which is a blend of Arms Race and Bomb Defusal. The terrorist’s main objective is to plant a big bad bomb at a pre-selected bomb site, and the Counter-Terrorists are tasked with either defusing it or taking out all of the bad guys, in order to win the match. Thankfully, there are no respawns in a match, so even those jittery, fast-twitchers out there have to be a little more careful and patient with their one life to live, and act accordingly. If you like to run off half-cocked, expect to be sitting there viewing the spectator screen quite often.
The graphics have been bumped up considerably from the original game, and character models are attractive and detailed. The weapon models are pretty standard fare as are their sounds, but manage to convey a moderate sense of chaos when heated firefight go down. The maps are also decent to look at—nothing jaw-dropping, but serviceable for what is on offer.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a fast-twitch gamer’s dream come true, and offers fast-paced gameplay along with some middle of the road tactical combat. Its simplicity is its strongest suit. It’s basically the same good vs. evil face-off that we saw in the original Counter-Strike, with a few added bells and whistles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those who like that sort of thing. Those looking for a more complex and multi-dimensional shooter might be let down with CS:GO, however, or get bored fast with the repetitive nature of its gameplay.
CS:GO is a snazzy looking shooter that is fun to play in short bursts, but in order to play at a steady framerate, you need a decent gaming PC machine to play it on:
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