It is been a very long time because the past Counterstrike, and surprisingly little has changed with this new iteration. But this might well be an excellent thing, writes Lewis Denby
It is twelve years since Counterstrike first emerged onto the multiplayer gaming arena. A team-based shot comparing terrorists against counter-terrorist squads, it was initially a mod for Valves Half Life, but was immediately embraced by majorities of first-person shooter enthusiasts trying to find a brighter, more tactical encounter to participate their cause-fingers. From the time a complete retail release arrived a year after, a growing number of players had made Counterstrike their go-to multiplayer name – and when the enormous 1.6 upgrade reach in 2003, it’d become a happening.
Valve released a fresh model of Counter Strike alongside Half-Life 2 a year after that, dividing the player foundation between those that favored the visually outstanding Source Engine, and those that preferred to stick with all the first game. While Counterstrike isnt quite the household name it once was, both versions continue to be played with a vociferous fanbase, and just now is a fresh episode heading our way.
Which can be why playing Global Offensive, and seeing how little has changed on the surface, is a surprise. Given the present tendency for string reboots, one might have expected to see a more polished, more modernised finish to the match – and yet here we are, having a name that feels like a tweaked variant of what came before, rather than something entirely new in its own right. Teams still compete rapidly but carefully across little multiplayer maps with changing goals, like hostage savings or bomb defusals, with one team attacking while the other attempts to prevent them. And, as before, there is no mid-round respawning: in the event you are killed, you are outside until the next round starts. The amount I find myself playing, defusal map Debris, is a modified version of one I recall from years past. It is all quite recognizable.
I set this to Valves Chet Faliszek, who I find manning the booth in the Eurogamer Expo. Just what is Global Offensive designed to be, if its not a full blown reboot or a sequel? He tells me, quite simply, that its the greatest version of Counter Strike yet. The team at Valve is trawling through player feedback and analysing data from both 1.6 and Counter-Strike Source. Were the number one tactical shooter on the PC, Faliszek says. Theres plenty of data to consider.
Now, however, its not only on PC. For the very first time since the mostly ignored Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Valve Continued bringing the collection to the games consoles at the same time. All these are games well-known for his or her quick rate, as well as the business doesnt appear to be making many concessions to the games console marketplace. Theres no auto-planning, no ironsights, no perks – really little, basically, of what the likes of Call of Duty have popularised. The PS3 variation I sit down with feels unstable and reactive, but I wonder exactly what the comments has been like from others whove played on a games console.
Weve had a few teams come in, says Faliszek. At PAX we had a couple of professional players who have been like, Oh, its the 360 version. But then they played it, and they were good. Faliszek believes the format isnt overly important anyhow, so long as the sport continues to be identifiably Counterstrike. I believe most folks play on several distinct stages today, he says. They sit down and also the controls are natural enough, along with the gameplays still the gameplay.
Probably the sole major concession made is that theres now a nonchalant manner, which strips out the games cash system, enabling players access to any or all weapons and gear in the start. In addition, it reduces the chance of one-hit kills, and gets rid of friendly fire – a courageous move, particularly considering how many expert Counterstrike players mention the games greatly skill-based play as among its strong points. But this isnt about alienating the hardcore, says Faliszek. We are lowering the entry level. We are making it simpler to get in. It’s possible for you to try and also make selections… its only an infinitely more societal, hanging out together with your buddies sort of play.
In theory, it should mean that those that wish to play competitively are in a position to achieve this and never have to be concerned about beginners who are still attempting to master the ropes – or, really, those who just arent worried about being the greatest, and wish to get some pleasure.
And I don’t have any doubt that enjoyment will be had. Throughout the half hour I played, I was surprised by how fast I fell back into my old play fashion, and the way vividly I remembered my old routes across the map. There really are a number of little tweaks, which should help the reconciliation of a game that, over a decade on, is still just as anxious and compulsive as it was when it first appeared.
Those coming to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from Call of Duty or Battleground may initially fight. While seemingly in the exact same genre, theres none of the bravado or the bombast; none of the flamboyant visual effects that make these games multiplayer elements so dramatic. Truly, CS:GO frequently seems clearly unremarkable: out-of-date, even. Its clear that being at the bleeding edge of graphics technology isnt Valves aim with this job.
Because their purpose, obviously, would be to take the Counterstrike formula, change what must be altered, and leave the remainder intact. Up to now, so swearing. Itd be an easy task to stress that this wont be sufficient to give Global Offensive the focus it deserves – but this is Valve. If theres matter we have to understand having a programmer of the standing, it is to trust them.