Preview: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
In case you didn’t know, Counter-Strike is making its return. However, unlike previous versions, the new Counter-Strike will be available on both computer and console.
For Counter-Strike, this is a first, and a welcome one at that. Valve is going to offer players who are fans of the competitive scene, who are playing on console, the chance to interact in a game where team FPS first originated. Sort of.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is expected to be an amalgamation between the ever-popular Version 1.6 and Source, which uses the Half-Life 2 engine. Source offered a few dynamic upgrades which slowed the game down when compared to 1.6, and unfortunately this lead to a shift in the player-base.
Title: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment
Players: 1+ (Multiplayer orientated)
Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Price: $15 – On all platforms (Roughly R123)
Release Date: 21 August 2012
Historically, in South Africa, Counter-Strike 1.6 was one of the most played games. It was very popular in the early years of 2000, where teams could compete each year for trips all over the world to play in tournaments, such as World Cyber Games and the Electronic Sports World Cup. South African teams would enjoy all expenses paid trips to the various destinations.
Once Counter-Strike: Source released, South African sponsors and event organisers simply jumped wagon to the new game, without consulting what the international market was doing. They decided to host a Counter-Strike: Source tournament at South Africa’s top local event, which was concerning as the international folk were still hooked on 1.6. While it brought in a lot of new players, it killed the game off as we could no longer send teams overseas, as the major international tournaments did not cater for Source.
Once Counter-Strike 1.6 died a slow and painful death, Source took over. Although, it was never the same. There were new players and a bigger market, however there was no longer anything to play for. No trips overseas, no massive tournaments, no nothing.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is aiming to change this, not locally but internationally. Ideally Valve would like all the players, from both games, to reunite in a single version. There is no doubt that, if the game works out as planned, that they will have massive $1mil tournaments, similar to what is happening with Dota 2.
Alongside the reunite of PC gamers together, Valve would like to introduce console players to a new team-orientated game. In fact, the older brother to team FPS games.
Valve has said that on 21 August, 2012, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will release on PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Cross-platform play was originally planned, however they ruled this out as it was not at all viable (read: PlayStation fanboys would be shot-dead so fast.). It’s alright though, we just want the game back.
What makes Counter-Strike so popular, though? Why would it replace the likes of Call of Duty on console, and so on?
Well, it might and it might not. Call of Duty will never be replaced, it’s a game with a massive following and many enjoy it. For online free-for-all, it might remain king, however for online competitive-play, Counter-Strike might stand a chance. For the PC folk, Call of Duty 4 is still quite popular, whereby Global Offensive might be able to steal the original 1.6 players — and a few fans — back.
It’s entirely possible that both games can co-exist, as Call of Duty players might not be serious competitive players, which means that they can stay there. Counter-Strike caters for players who are competitive and who want to play team matches against each other. I’d say around 70% of Counter-Strike players belong, or belonged, to a team — not a verified fact, but rather my own take on the players and teams locally.
Counter-Strike requires a little bit more, and different, strategy to Call of Duty. Where Call of Duty is quick to the action, allows for more game modes and weapons, Counter-Strike offers refinement and some tactical understanding. Despite only having one mode for competitive play, that’s “plant the bomb, then defuse it”, Valve’s shooter offers a lot of variables which you don’t find in other games. For example, the need to save money to buy guns, and/or risk using money to buy powerful handguns to catch your opponent off guard. That alone is a risky move, because if you lose, you’d have to wait another two to three rounds to buy powerful weapons, possibly giving your opponent a three to four round lead. You only play 15 rounds per team, where the first to 16, in total, wins the map. A total of 30 rounds per map is played competitively: 15 as Terrorist, 15 as Counter-Terrorist.
Money defines who wins, and for that you need to keep proper cash-flow on hand. There’s various ways to do this, and it all amounts to the strategy your team uses. It can get very technical, which is great, as well timed decoys could set a team off guard. The mere fact that once you die, in a single round, leaves you dead until the next is also something to watch out for. Taking stray damage off a grenade leaving you on half health will change the way you play as well, as you will no longer be as brave because you need to make sure that if and when you die, you at least kill one player from other team. Counter-Strike is played as five versus five.
The above is a quick look at what the game offers. It’s generally slower than Call of Duty, where the game mode isn’t as diverse as the offerings found in Call of Duty either. For example, there’s no time-extensions per round when you capture a point, because you cannot capture a point — you just blow it up and win. The maps are a little smaller as well.
Small technicalities, strategies and explanations aside, I hope you can see why myself, amongst others, is excited for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
With luck, all of the above will be making a return, along with the following features which the game has to offer.
As noted above, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is said to merge the speed and precision of 1.6 with the dynamic playability of Source. While this isn’t a hands-on article for the game, from experience, I can say that Valve is doing a somewhat good job at this. While it’s not exactly, 1.6, it sure is workable at the moment. Fortunately though, the developers are constantly working to change what the game has to offer and how it will be offered.
Following that, Counter-Strike Global: Offensive will offer a matchmaking mode which groups good players with other good players, and mediocre players with mediocre players, and so on. A feature similar to other newer games, but new to this series. There will be a leaderboard as well, as some people are natural leaders, or something.
The famous maps, which are always played, have received updates to reflect the new game. Maps such as de_dust, which was a previously competitive-approved map until a certain point, will now return as competitive-approved map as Valve has added new dimensions to extend and make it a little bit more versatile. Other maps such as de_inferno, de_aztec, de_dust2, etc, have also received Global Offensive treatment.
For players who want to do a more casual thing with Global Offensive, Valve has added new modes. The below modes aren’t new or revolutionary to gaming, but rather to the Counter-Strike series.
Arsenal: Arms Race is a new mode which allows players to respawn instantly, however it’s not Deathmatch. Arms Race has all the players start with the same weapon, whereby each time they get a kill they get a new weapon. Once the player kills enough opponents, he will end up with a knife. That signals one more kill needed. In this mode, the first player to unlock all the weapons, and to kill with the knife, wins.
Arsenal: Demolition is a mode similar to that of Arms Race, however it isn’t as past paced. In fact, it’s different because it uses the bomb as the main object. One starts with a rifle where if they get a kill, they receive a weaker weapon next round.
The other standard Demolition and Casual modes continue to exist too, and that means planting and/or defusing the bomb as well as rescuing hostages.
Weapon-wise, Global Offensive offers a few new tools as well. Some of the standard guns have changed, where Valve also added Molotov Cocktails for Terrorists, and other fancy grenades for Counter-Terrorists. There’s going to be a one-shot-one-kill Taser available as well, however, it isn’t available yet. The Taser will only be available in certain modes, and not in competitive play for obvious reasons.
In essence, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive aims to make something old, new. While changes might seem somewhat limited, the real improvement, or change at least, is in the gameplay.
It feels completely different to the previous versions, where the developers worked with a lot of the public and professional teams to perfect how the game is played, how it will be played, and what it has to offer. They are trying to involve the community to make it a success.
As for console play, the game has been designed so that when it launches on console it will be easy to play and use. The menus have been structured so that players can easily buy with the analogue controls. Alongside that, it was noted that the PlayStation 3 will allow for Move and keyboard and mouse support, as well as the standard controller.
Valve has said that the open beta could start on the 21st of July, or just a few days after. If you’d like to try the game, then you should.
Finally, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a multiplayer game only, it will not offer a campaign mode. There will however be an offline mode which allows you to play with bots, and if you’re playing on console, you will be able to play split-screen with bots too. And don’t use bots in the original sense of the word, as the Global Offensive bots are actually really good. Depending on the difficulty, they are really smart and they will try to learn what you do and how you play. If you keep sniping from one point in a map, they will avoid that point to make you come to them. Not only that though, if you die, you’re able to take the life of bot and play under their character, therefore, in a bot game you’ll always be able to play — even when you’re dead. That’s a nifty feature which isn’t available in many, if any, other games. Whatever kills you get with a bot belongs to the bot, as do their weapons and so on, so it’s just a way to play, and it has no relation to your character.
The purchase price for the game is $15, and that’s super-cheap for a replayable multiplayer game which offers hours of endless casual as well as competitive fun, stress, anxiety and adrenaline.