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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive PS3 Review

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Image © Valve Software
The flood of worthwhile games that are available not at Gamestop or Amazon but on the PlayStation Network continues to flow with the recent release of the stellar "CS: GO," which stands for "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive". In 2012 alone, we've been treated to "I Am Alive," "The Walking Dead," "Sound Shapes," and the amazing "Journey" -- four games that you simply must play if you own a PlayStation 3. "CS: GO" is the fifth.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Valve Software
  • Developer: Valve Software
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Multiplayer Shooter
  • Pros: Simple Yet Addictive, Variety of Modes, Responsive Triggering
  • Cons: Mediocre Graphics, Average Map Design, Some Missing Ingredients

Pick your team, pick your weapon, pick your map, and get ready to fire. "CS: GO" doesn't over-complicate what multiplayer addicts love about their favorite genre, keeping the design simple while also offering enough bang for the player buck. It's not a remarkably deep game when compared to something like "Battlefield 3" or "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" but it gives players more than they will likely expect from an update of a PC series moved to the PSN. Younger players who don't even know that "Counter-Strike" is a once-vibrant franchise that has been dormant for over a decade will enjoy this game just as much (and arguably more) than the veterans returning to service.

Gameplay

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Image © Valve Software

The basics are simple -- five-on-five action in which you don't respawn until the match is over. In some modes, it will be whichever team has the last surviving member and in others it will be objective-based. But what most modern multiplayer fans may not be accustomed to is that death means something here. Die 5 seconds into a 3-minute match and you will likely have to sit around and watch other people play for a few minutes. (Worst of all is when horrible, cowardly players just sit at opposite ends of the map waiting to ambush the sole remaining player on the other team who's doing the exact same thing. There is a "Vote" system in place to kick out people who pull this move too often or simply to end a match but I saw it happen a shocking number of times.) The permanence of death in most modes of "CS: GO" (one of the modes does allow for respawning but I found that one the least engaging) allows for a different degree of strategy that's refreshing in a multiplayer world in which soldiers often respawn 30 times in one match.

There are four modes in "CS: GO" that can be played with bots offline or online with real competitors -- "Arms Race," "Demolition," "Classic Casual," and "Classic Competitive." Each of the modes are built on a model in which success breeds upgrades. For example, in "Arms Race," a new weapon is awarded with each kill. The first competitor to get a kill with every weapon, wins. In the "Classic" modes, players earn money for accomplishments and buy new weapons and gear at the start of the next round. "Demolition" features terrorists that have a bomb to plant and counter-terrorists designed to stop them while the "Classic" modes feature hostages and the same team designations. Choose to complete the objectives or just shoot your enemies. Most gamers go with the latter. I've played dozens of matches and rarely seen a hostage rescued or bomb planted. People are too busy going for that elusive kill count.

There's an efficiency to "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" that's admirable and addictive. It's the kind of game that anyone even remotely familiar with a multiplayer title can immediately jump in and play but that gets more interesting as one becomes accustomed to the gameplay, maps, and weapons. There are some missing elements here like the fact that you can't aim down your sights, which caused me to die dozens of times in my first few matches because the button I instinctively wanted to press to aim down my sight whipped out my knife, which couldn't stop a bullet. And you can't sprint either. The lack of these elements may be to appeal to older fans of the original but it seems odd not to refine the actual gameplay for a 2012 audience.

What elevates "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" is a sense of accomplishment. The fact that you can't respawn and you're playing co-operatively adds to the desire to be the MVP. That feeling you get when you're not only the last man standing but you took out more than half the other team? It's much more palpable than merely boasting a 22-15 kill-death record in a more generic multiplayer shooter.

Graphics & Sound

People overly conscious of visual quality might want to avoid "CS: GO." It looks like a relatively small downloadable shooter. Player animations are unrefined and environment graphics are almost non-existent. An occasional chicken in your path is about the level of detail to expect here. And there are a few disappointing visual glitches such as when I saw a dead competitor spinning in place instead of slumping to the ground. It should be noted that the physics of the graphics engine are strong. There are times where visually unimpressive shooters can have their lackluster graphics impact the actual gameplay. I never felt like that was the case here. The audio is what one would expect.

Overall

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Image © Valve Software
"Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" is not going to pull too many players away from their "MW3" or "BF3" addictions but it is a pleasant surprise on the PSN before the onslaught of action games coming this Fall. It works for a wide variety of demographics and comes at such an attractively low price point that it's hard to believe anyone could be too disappointed. There are some glitches and some elements that could have arguably been refined but they're rarely drastic enough to pull you out of the experience. In the moment, "CS: GO" simply works. And the moment is all that really matters.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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