Counter Strike: Global Offensive Review (PC)

Game ReviewCounter Strike: Global Offensive
Release: August 21st, 2012
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment/Valve
Available Platforms: PC, Mac OSX,  XBLA, PSN
Players: 2-16
MSRP: $14.99/1200MSP
Website Counter Strike: Global Offensive

I’m suited up in body armor, equipped with the highest tech assault rifle and grenades, with an entire squad of elite counter-terrorist operatives next to me. We move out, cross an open field, and come into a choke-point. The clank and pop of grenades go off and explosions of gunfire come from all angles. I cross a corner, see the first enemy and….


Now I’m a spectral ghost. Hovering above my teammate shouting “KILL HIM KILL HIM!” as the “terrorist” in skinny jeans and a Grateful Dead Tee runs circles around my elite trained team members. As he puts a bullet in the head of my last teammate I rock backward in anger. We lost ANOTHER round. Well, at least this one lasted 30 whole seconds…

Like CS:Source and 1.6 before it, Global Offensive is about headshots, it’s about quick aiming, it’s about planting (or defusing) the bomb and trying not to get killed in the first 10 seconds.  You are probably saying, hey that sounds just like the LAST Counter Strike! So what’s different then? Well here’s one change a pro described:

I want original moto bhopping over the cs_seige ct spawn gap jumping [back]

Confused? You should be. Because that is not English, it’s the native language of Counter Strike players. A language that is so impossible to speak or understand that we don’t even know what it’s called.

So back to what’s different. Besides the obvious difference – which is the major improvement in graphics – are a lot of behind the scenes changes to weapon and map balance. As a long time PC gamer I have played CS 1.6 and Source, but never deep enough to know how the weapon spread changes after the 3rd burst, the best bunny jumping strategies, or any of that. So I can’t say what I think about how they changed the technical aspects of them mechanics.

What I can tell you though, from browsing forums across the internet, is that taste in what game has the best weapon spread, the nicest guns, or even the worst sound IS entirely subjective. Open a thread titled “DEAGLE IS CRAP I HATE THIS GAME” only to find a dozen responses from people vehemently agreeing, disagreeing, and everything else in between (yes, sometimes people are even vehemently neutral).

These people aren’t just playing against each other; they are playing against the very game itself. A lot of times you will run into people who don’t take it seriously, but almost as often you get people who do take it VERY seriously. I’ll admit I’m one of those people occasionally, especially when it’s 9 rounds in and the same guy on the other team has capped me every time…

I’m used to lasting only 30 seconds…

So again back to what’s different. The major change in Global Offensive have been changes that should appeal more to mainstream players. They added a “Casual” mode where you get armor by default, and team bonuses are higher and individual bonuses lower, in order to level the playing field more.

They also official added the “Gun Game” in the form of Arms Race and Demolition. The ways these work is that you progress a weapons ladder – in order to get the next weapon, you must get a kill. In Demolition they take it a step further by capping your progress to one step up the ladder per round, which sort of balances the game out.

The weapons/equipment buy menu has been redesigned, which is good and bad. The good being the overall new look and operation which feels streamlined and much less Microsoft Excel-ish then it did in Source. But the bad is that it lacks a “buy previous” menu that makes any sense (I really can’t figure it out, sometimes it will buy weapons even if you only picked them up midround, sometimes it will buy just about everything you ever purchased, but never does it actually buy what I want) and the presets from Source. Some people will say that the new radial menu is so easy to use that it’s not a problem, but that isn’t a valid excuse when a half dozen clicks could easily be turned into one.

In terms of mechanics they removed bunny hopping so the enemy player can’t act like as much of a PCP addict, and also greatly reduced the role that damage can do through wall-penetration. But there is only so far they can go.

Aww man! I think these are my sisters jeans…

Counter Strike has carved out such a niche that it’s become a side-path in the evolutionary tree in gaming. Headshotting is CS. Knowing where to aim with every consecutive shot of your rifle is CS. Equipping the biggest gun you can get and hoping for the best is not CS. Unless Valve changes an integral part of the series, or reinvents competitive FPS altogether, each new entry in the series will be roughly identical.

Global Offensive just lacks the traditional polish Valve games have (sticklers will point out that Hidden Path Entertainment [Defense Grid developers] are actually the listed developers on GO, but they worked with and for Valve on this game). The new faction skins are not only ugly, they are often too similar and it makes recognizing a teammate from an enemy take just a fraction longer.  There are some persistent UI bugs where you can’t click menu buttons. And while this will probably be patched out soon – some of the weapons are a bit off (Tec 9 is the headshot master early on, Bizon and UMP are so woefully inaccurate and weak that they are useless).

Depending on the faction, the Terrorists at best look like the punks that hang outside the 7/11 late on Friday night and at worst look like last minute ghost costumes that Charlie Brown made with a grocery store bag and a pair of safety scissors. Whereas the Counter-Terrorists’ outfits came from a low budget action movie or were made by the same company that makes the Dollar Store version of G.I. Joe.

So if you were turned off by a Counter Strike game in the past, you more than likely will get burned again by Global Offensive. If you haven’t played a Counter Strike game yet then this is probably the best place to start. It is slightly easier than the other CS games, it’s MUCH better looking (but still not much to write home about…) and it will be the game getting the most regular support from now on, and most players will or already have funneled into it.

+Will be slightly easier to ease into thanks to “Casual” mode and other changes
+Beautiful smoke effects from the gun barrels
-Player models took a double beating from the ugly stick

7 out of 10


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