A classic from the golden age of shooters, Counter Strike has endured as a PC staple while others in the genre have fallen by the wayside. Starting as a Half-Life mod way back in 1999, Counter-Strike has remained one of the most popular competitive shooters on the scene to date. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is bringing an update to one of the most classic games of all time, while staying true to the original; and it succeeds admirably.

Graphically, CS:GO holds its own against modern shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The game has received a fresh coat of paint, with new details bringing each of the classic maps up to date.  Touches like weather effects on some of the maps add to the game’s look. Textures and models have a considerable amount of detail, and the game looks great. Even better, the title maintains its silky-smooth frame rate through every firefight, even when you’re not running top-of-the-line hardware. My 450 GTS kept up no problem, even with all settings maxed out.

Global Offensive's visuals are beautiful

At the core, however, Global Offensive remains unchanged. There are still terrorists. There are still counter-terrorists. They still fight for objectives like planting the bomb or freeing hostages. And it’s still amazing. The game does not bend to modern trends, such as ranking up with persistent unlocks or kill streak bonuses. The maps, while graphically enhanced, are largely unchanged. While the maps retain their perfect balance, the lack of new maps for the classic modes is a bit frustrating. Presumably, Valve didn’t want to fix what isn’t broken, but it would have been nice to see more maps included; hopefully the modding community will soon remedy this. Another key change comes with the radial menu, which is obviously designed for consoles and doesn’t quite make sense for the PC version of the game. While hardly game-breaking, it’s a minor annoyance that could have been swapped out for something unique on the PC.

The radial menu seems out of place on the PC.

If you’ve never played Counter-Strike before, each match is split into 10 rounds. The player is rewarded with cash for things like getting kills, setting up the bomb, or winning the round. You can then use that cash at the beginning of the next round to purchase new weapons or upgrades. If you die in a round, you have to wait until the next round to respawn, and you’ll lose your upgrades and weapons that you previously purchased. The no-respawns rule causes the game to have a slightly slower pace, forcing players to be more cautious overall. Spray and pray tactics do not work; instead, the game focuses on accuracy and strategy to win.

Never played before? Get ready to see this screen a lot.

Global Offensive includes two new game modes, in addition to the classic, which might feel more familiar to newer players. The first is Arms Race, a team-based version of what you’ve probably played as Gun Game on Call of Duty: Black Ops (but which actually started as a Counter-Strike mod in the first place). With each kill, you receive a different weapon, and the goal is to get a kill with every weapon in the game, finishing with the knife. The maps are small and fast, and the melee weapon results in an instant kill zone. The other new game type, Demolition, is much like the classic mode but on smaller, more fast-paced maps, meaning there’s less downtime between rounds. Instead of buying weapons at the start of each round, you’ll start with a pre-made load out that cycles through more specialized equipment if you’ve scored a kill in the previous round. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way for newer players to dive into the game.

Counter-Strike isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. If you’re a fan of all the perks, upgrades, ranks, etc of more modern shooters, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a solid, beautifully simple, perfectly balanced competitive shooter, then Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is perfect for you.

 

Here’s the Rundown:

+ Stays true to the original
+ Graphical update is a nice addition
+ New game types add variety to an already stellar game
- No new maps for Classic Gametype
- Radial menu doesn’t make sense on PC

9 and 9.5 represent the pinnacle of the genre, a game that defines what that genre should be about. These scores are for games that you not only feel would be worth your purchase, but you would actually try to convince your friends to buy them as well.

CounterStrike: Global Operations was developed and published by Valve. It was released on August 21, 2012, at the MSRP of $15. A copy was provided by the publisher to RipTen for the purposes of review.