bgdiner's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (PC) review

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A Faithful Update of the Original and Source Versions of Counter-Strike

Much has been said about Counter-Strike, but most people know it as "that competitive FPS". That it remains one of the most popular games on Steam testifies to its popularity, even after all these years and accompanying genre changes. In an industry of respawns and kill-streaks, Counter-Strike is unusually ascetic; there is a comparably low, if even existent amount of persistence in the game, and the only reward a successful player receives is more money to buy weapons and armor. Counter-Strike is one of the few games that has survived the industry switch to the modern military shooter, heralded by Call of Duty 4. This is a genre in itself.

This makes the existence of Global Offensive seem somewhat strange upon this consideration. One of the main draws of Counter-Strike is its staid nature, and its refusal to yield to the fads of the game industry. There's no aim-down-sight, no regenerating health; in short, the need for a refresh of the game seems unnecessary, especially given the intended audience. However, Global Offensive is worth the purchase. The game goes beyond the requisite graphics update, and makes a few subtle changes that keep the Counter-Strike formula (comparably) fresh. There's some new modes to try out, some of which are fun in their throwaway nature (i.g. Arms Race, a CS riff on Gun Game) or the ability to play them without the typical commitment to a 30-round game (i.g. the Casual modes). There are, I think, a few new guns and some updated ones, though you'd be hard-pressed to know the difference unless you've played Counter-Strike for years on end.

The question still stand: Is the game enough of a refresh to warrant its purchase? I picked this up for $7.50 on a recent Steam sale, and have, in only a few days, logged 14 hours. Though I had only 12 hours of CS: Source as my basis of experience, I fell right in with the motions: buying an AK (or M4) at the beginning of a round, running with my knife for that extra burst of speed--hell, I felt like a veteran player. That's because the skills you learn playing Counter-Strike never really leave you, even after a few years of absence. And those skills really payoff. There's nothing quite like the tense moments that Counter-Strike so effortlessly sets up: the one-on-one hunt, the rush to defuse the bomb, the anxious waiting for an enemy to defuse said bomb...these are the experiences that other games offer only in passing. Whatever features or changes CS:GO offers, nothing compares to those moments of victory and loss that cause vibrant cheering or sighs and exclamations of "nice try". They're the real selling points of the game.

I'll leave you guys with a brief adventure that I recently had within the game (though some of you may label it bragging). I was playing Dust II (probably the most popular map in the game) as a terrorist (the counterpart to the aptly-named counter-terrorist), and our plan to plant [the bomb] at A had fallen through for whatever reason. I had been hit a few times, from where I'm not sure, but I had 1 health left. Yes, literally. All five of the CT members were alive and hunting, though they were probably cutting corners (in checking corners, etc.) in order to finish the round. Anyhow, I creep along, my finger on the Shift key to mollify my footsteps by walking, and the first guy comes up from the middle of the map ("mid") and begins spraying. Suffice to say, he didn't hit me (with 1 health, I'd have been dead at that point). I fired back with a burst of my AK, and whether it was a headshot or not, he fell. Probably attracted by the sound of shots, or at least by the blip on their radar, the rest of the CT team made the mad dash over to the double-doors near T spawn to finish me off. The second guy comes out of the double-doors, looking the wrong way; scratch 2. At this point, the fallen members of my team are getting excited, the prospect of a clutch victory looming in their minds. The third comes from T spawn, probably having made his way from the B bombsite; three down. The fourth, from the A double-doors. At this point, the notion of that exalted victory is a real possibility in my mind, not to mention my teammates'. The fifth guy is a little trickier with his planning, as he probably knows that, at this point, should he lose, he will be that guy to receive the "nice try" exclamation. All the previous CTs had run to my position, confident that should they fall, one of their compatriots would take advantage of the ensuing chaos and capitalize. This guy, however, is wary. I'm expecting him to come from up mid, just as the first guy did, but maybe he was thinking that I was thinking that. Instead, he comes from that little niche that allows one to see from T spawn over to the double doors at mid (ostensibly having flanked from B). My mouse hand curiously steady, I see him just as he sees me, and he fires first, M4 ablaze. I crouch, maybe not the smartest move, but the move I made, and I gave that little three-round burst towards the head. And that was that. My headset lights up, the members on my team yelling, me, jumping around, firing my AK towards the sky and filled with pride and joy. I hear the exaltations of my teammates, and note that this moment, this "clutch" victory and all its ramifications is the essence of the game, and the reason for buying it. There is no greater feeling to be had in a competitive video game. A must-buy.


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