If you've never experienced Counter-Strike before, this new version of the classic team-based PC shooter may cause you to wonder what, exactly, all the fuss is about.
Counter-Strike isn't just a game, it's a phenomenon. Originally created by a couple of college students as a downloadable mod for Valve's pioneering 1998 PC first-person shooter, Half-Life, Counter-Strike has more than outlived the game on which it was based and remains one of the most widely played online games in the world, despite being based on 5-year-old technology. Why did Counter-Strike take the world by storm? For one thing, it was free and piggybacked a game that had a huge installed base. But, more importantly, it combined realistic kill-or-be-killed gunplay in a highly competitive, team-oriented environment that featured an incredibly fast, perfectly tuned, arcadelike pace. Much like the way Street Fighter II pioneered the fighting game but was never truly surpassed, so will Counter-Strike remain the once and future king of team-based shooters. Now Microsoft, in partnership with Valve, has brought Counter-Strike to the Xbox, where it's no longer free and no longer as responsive, but, in other respects, is largely the same game as the PC version. It's a bare-bones product that's a missed opportunity, offering no compelling reasons to make it recommendable over the PC version, except to someone with an Xbox Live account and a completely outdated PC. On its own merits, it can make for some good fun online, but if you've never experienced Counter-Strike before, this new version may cause you to wonder what, exactly, all the fuss is about.
The mechanics and the pace of Counter-Strike are essentially intact here, and some new maps and the option to play with or against computer-controlled bots are the main, new attractions. The rules of the game are the same as ever. You'll participate in a series of brutal rounds, from the perspective of either a counter-terrorist (CT) or a terrorist (T), each attempting to thwart the other. Two types of mission objectives are available: demolition and hostage rescue. In the former, the Ts attempt to drop a bomb at a particular point and then try to defend it for a number of seconds before it goes off; the CTs can win by defusing the bomb and, thus, defeating the Ts. In the latter, the CTs must locate a pack of hostages and lead them to safety, but the Ts don't want that to happen. Either mission type has a popular alternate objective: Kill everyone on the opposing side.
Rounds tend to last only a few minutes--maybe three or four. By killing enemies or winning rounds, you earn money with which you may purchase better weapons, more ammo, armor, and grenades in the next round (all the money in the world won't help you against a better, faster CS player, though). One of Counter-Strike's key features, and one that has been copied by countless other multiplayer shooters, is that when you die during a round, you stay dead for the remainder of that round. This penalty, coupled with the relatively realistic damage modeling in the game (you can only withstand a few shots--if you're lucky and if you're wearing full Kevlar armor), forces you to forget about the sorts of gung ho heroics typical of other first-person shooters, and it, instead, forces you to stick with your team, keep your head down, and aim true.
The buy mode in the Xbox version of Counter-Strike is handled using a convenient radial menu, which gives you near-instant access to the game's variety of real-world equipment, including pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, grenades, and other weapons . You have only a few seconds before the beginning of each round to get the gear you need, but it's enough time. You're able to buy gear during a round if you want, or you can grab a weapon from a dead friend or foe, but, for the most part, what you'll start the round with is what you'll end the round with. Realistically, Counter-Strike lets you carry a pistol, one larger weapon (like a submachine gun or a sniper rifle), a survival knife, maybe some grenades, and that's it.
Therefore, your primary weapon will dictate your main role in the round. If you're packing a sniper rifle, you don't want to meet an enemy with a submachine gun when rounding a corner. If you're packing a light machine gun, you don't want to be caught out in the open with it, but you should, instead, anticipate your enemy's advances and take advantage of the weapon's ability to shoot through certain solid materials, like wooden doors. High-explosive grenades and flashbangs, which can temporarily blind groups of foes, can be highly effective. Each weapon has its own unique properties, but none is overwhelmingly powerful. Also, there are some differences between the T and CT arsenals (for example, only the Ts get to use the equivalent of AK-47 rifles), but the two sides play pretty much identically. Counter-Strike for the Xbox offers no weapons that can't be found in the PC version, though it does feature some of the relatively new additions to the arsenal, like the CT riot shield.
In the PC version of Counter-Strike, the preferred combination of keyboard-and-mouse controls allows for incredibly responsive action, so that some particularly skilled players are able to take out their opponents almost instantly. On the Xbox, some of this precision is inherently lost due to the less accurate nature of having to use the dual-analog sticks for aiming and movement. This control scheme basically works fine and operates on the same principles as the PC version. For instance, your aim will be much better if you shoot while crouching in short, controlled bursts rather than laying on the trigger while running or jumping. However, the split-second reaction times rewarded by Counter-Strike are certainly limited by having to use a gamepad. Fortunately, you can adjust the sensitivity of the analog control (you'll probably want to bump it up at least a notch from the default). There's also a "quick turn" option, allowing you to rotate around much more quickly if you press in on the left analog stick. This quick turn is an essential ability in situations where the enemy manages to flank you. Additionally, you can easily cycle through your weapons by using the Y button.
- Player Reviews: 135
- Game Universe:
- Half-Life (PC, DC, PS2, UNIX, MAC),
- Half-Life 2 (XBOX, PC, MAC),
- The Orange Box (PC, X360, PS3, MAC),
- Half-Life 2: Episode One (PC, MAC),
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two (PC, MAC),
- Team Fortress 2 (PC, MAC, UNIX),
- Counter-Strike: Source (PC, MAC, UNIX),
- Day of Defeat: Source (PC, MAC),
- Half-Life 2: Episode Three (PC),
- Half-Life 2: Episode Pack (PC)
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: