Counter-Strike started life as a mod for the PC game Half Life and has since become one of the most popular multiplayer shooters around.
Its latest iteration, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, maintains the series’ tradition of tough but fair gameplay but adds some much needed features and modernising touches to get new players off the ground.
At first glance, it looks like another Call of Duty clone but it’s a different beast entirely. Twitchy trigger fingers and a penchant for unloading your gun into someone at first sight are habits that will net you more deaths than kills.
Counter-Strike is, unlike Call of Duty, a team-based game that rewards a methodical approach. Being active on voice chat, knowing the maps back to front and thinking one step ahead of the enemy can end a round in 30 seconds or less.
Indeed the synchronised spawn system allows players to roughly predict where they will likely collide with the enemy team. This creates an interesting layer of pre-emptive strategy, with experienced players watching likely enemy paths or taking unusual routes to throw enemies off their scent.
This isn’t to say the game is inaccessible to new players, indeed the addition of a training course helps to teach the basics. It covers everything from planting and defusing bombs to the importance of firing in bursts.
The narrator is engaging, humorous and informative which makes the tutorial fly by. However, there are lessons that Counter-Strike can only teach through gameplay meaning that new players will often watch matches unfold from the post death screen rather than playing.
Veterans will be most at home with the Classic Casual and Classic Competitive modes. Casual is more lenient, turning friendly fire off whilst Competitive is the closest thing to vanilla Counter-Strike.
New game modes include Arms Race and Demolition. In these modes you don’t need to buy weapons as killing enemies will reward you with new weapons. In Arms Race players race to level up their guns as fast as possible and have to finish the round with a knife kill.
Demolition uses the bomb defusal scenario and mixes it with the levelling gameplay of gun game to create a faster and more streamlined game. These two new modes provide a more frantic and arcade feel and represent a good entry point for new players.
One major complaint is that the game doesn’t have a large selection of maps and it’s irritating playing your fifth consecutive match in de_dust or de_dust2. The official maps have been given a fresh coat of paint and have been tweaked in their layout to keep old players on their toes but the selection is still predictable.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a solid entry to the highly revered series. By rejecting auto-aim, kill-streaks and other peripheral distractions it still provides the team-based gameplay of its ancestors while helping newcomers ease in through the new game modes and the weapons course.
If you are tired of the modern shooters and are ready for a challenge you should give this reinvented classic a try.