Counter-Strike was once the number one online multiplayer action game. I say action because the vast nature of the game’s popularity spread further than that of the first-person shooter; Counter-Strike was a phenomenon. Any game popular enough to spawn supposed ‘killers’ left, right and centre is definitely worthy of its popularity. I vividly remember Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror being marked as the beginning of Counter-Strike’s end, though that never came to pass - fun game, though. Alongside StarCraft, I’d wager that the Counter-Strike series is responsible for the creation and sustained existence of eSports.
At face value, Counter-Strike seems like quite a simple game despite the competitive scene. Speaking with people on the sidelines of the CS community many think that the series is ‘too repetitive’, focusing on the same tried-and-tested strategies and maps. Speak to anyone who’s played an online PC game, and they’ll know about Dust2 even if they haven’t played CS in their lives. Planting the bomb, Terrorists versus Counter-Terrorists - it’s all very familiar. To a lesser extent, rescuing hostages is also a familiar concept. Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve Software’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive aims to change the stale perspicuity of the franchise. With additions like Arsenal mode, a twist on the popular gun-game mod originally created by the CS community, as well as a rebalanced armory with some new inclusions - CS:GO aims to rid the franchise of the ‘same old, same old’ affliction that plagues it.
What you may not know, however, is that Counter-Strike hasn’t always just been about defusing bombs, rescuing hostages, and playing Dust2. The original CS team had experimented with a couple of modes back in Beta 6.0 in 2000 - Assassination and Escape. Assassination mode may be known by some, as one map of that game mode still exists in the original Counter-Strike today: Oilrig. The goal was for the Counter-Terrorists to escort one player (the VIP) on their team to an extraction point somewhere on the map. The objective for the Terrorists was to either eliminate the VIP, or hold off the Counter-Terrorists long enough so that time ran out resulting in a default win. The VIP was equipped with a USP sidearm that had limited ammo and a Kevlar vest, and the VIP could not make purchases from the buy menu
|Assassination mode in the original CS|
While I assume that this mode never made it into future iterations of Counter-Strike purely due to the lack of popularity it had, I can’t help but have floods of memories pouring in about how much fun I had with Assassination. With Global Offensive taking a new approach to the series, allowing casual players and competitive alike to enjoy the game in different ways, I can actually see a resurgence of this mode. Is it possible that Hidden Path have considered the return of Assassination? Considering the current lack of variety found in the core gameplay of Counter-Strike, I honestly believe that the addition of a new mode (whether it be Assassination or something else entirely) could be nothing but a good thing. While it almost certainly would not receive attention from the competitive crowd, games will always have a bigger crowd in the casual space - so why not?
The Escape mode was similar to Assassination, but in reverse and with a bit of a twist. The goal was for the Terrorists to escape a Counter-Terrorist raid by fleeing to a location on the map. An example I remember from the ‘old days’ was escaping from a train car as a Terrorist to one of three points on the map. While I may believe in a potential resurgence for Assassination, Escape would be a much harder mode to agree on adding to Global Offensive or future Counter-Strike titles. This is because of one major flaw that I remember well - for the Terrorists to win, they had to fight with weapons that they found as no buy zone was available. This, in combination with a general advantage that the CTs had due to map design, it became incredibly difficult for Terrorists to win regularly.
Interestingly, instead of reviving these old modes, Hidden Path have taken it upon themselves to integrate the concept of the popular Gun Game mod into Global Offensive under the title Arsenal. This will not only include the classic gun game mode, in which you must make your way through all of the weapons from pistols to sniper rifles to your trusty knife, but also modes like Demolition. This is an objective based twist on Gun Game, with your weapons get progressively worse the more kills you get and they’re rewarded on a per-round basis as opposed to on the spot. Whereas standard Arsenal is basically team deathmatch, Demolition sticks to the round based classic gameplay formula with Terrorists having the optional objective of planting a bomb.
|CS:GO Demolition mode map de_lake|
However, the addition of Arsenal in any form isn’t a game changer - it’s simply a way for the game to become more accessible. There are probably many Counter-Strike fans screaming while reading this, as more accessibility to a game as popular as something like CS is met with nothing but harsh reception. But know this - more players will not affect your precious competitive side, in a negative way at least. All it actually means is that more people will be drawn to the game, and the more accessible the core experience is, the more people are going to want to be involved in the competition; it will be a less intimidating game. Built-in matchmaking, which Global Offensive will include, is a perfect way to merge casual players who want to see what all the fuss is about with those who are already involved.
What does matter to the game, and probably the most important aspect of Global Offensive, is the new additions to the game’s weapon list. That, and the complete rebalancing of existing armory. Considering the pedigree behind the franchise, Hidden Path have certainly made some interesting additions - and subtractions - so far. While no guns have been replaced (the MP5 has now been upgraded to its modern iteration, the MP7 - though this is purely cosmetic), some have been...meddled with. Suppressors are no longer available for the USP (now the P2000) or M4, and while I do believe this isn’t too much of a big deal I have certainly seen some particularly harsh backlash from their absence. As the game is still in beta, it is possible that they may return - perhaps on some other weapons as well. Another controversial tweak is that scope sway and blur has been introduced for all sniper rifles as a way to help reduce the amount of quick scoping and such, though so far, I haven’t seen it do a whole lot.
|The new rifle scope in CS:GO|
In all my years of playing Counter-Strike, I never thought I’d say the following: the Galil is currently, in my experience, the greatest weapon in the game. I also never thought I’d say this: the FAMAS is completely underwhelming. While the M4 and AK used to be the crux of any Counter-Strike match, I found myself succumbing to an undying devotion to the CT-only FAMAS assault rifle. While I could list all of the changes and how they compare with their original counterparts, this article isn’t the place for that. With you knowing that I think the Galil is amazing, let me also tell you that I think the AK47 is verging on broken. While I can be just as efficient as I used to be, the majority of my time with the AK is spent tapping the fire button and hitting virtually nothing. Oh, and the P250? My favourite pistol for sure.
If demand is high, I’m happy to do a piece completely dedicated to the arsenal as it exists today. But the only sure-fire way to comparatively know how everything feels to you veterans is for you to simply play it, and while they may be the biggest tease ever if you don’t have beta access right now, that’s just the long and short of it. Counter-Strike may seem basic to some as we’ve discussed, but in my CS career, I’ve always found that certain weapons performed differently with each player. Maybe that is because I didn’t delve deep enough into the competition, but I knew that my love for the FAMAS and my distaste for the Desert Eagle really confused some people - but it didn’t matter, because many a one versus five win was had.
The visuals are also worth taking an exclusive look at, especially considering that fans are currently in a back and forth tug of war over what appear to be silly little things like the inclusion or exclusion of fog in the game. But when it comes down to it, Global Offensive is still Counter-Strike...to the masses. It’s different to those who have dedicated hundreds and thousands of hours of their lives to it, though, with both positive and vile reception being met from different crowds. Some professional Counter-Strike players are shunning Hidden Path’s approach to the game, while while others are embracing it.
What do you want to know about Global Offensive? Graphics? Guns? Maps? There’s certainly a lot to cover, and I want to know what you want first! Simply let me know by commenting below, and I’ll see what I can do. Thank you for reading my debut piece for Darkly, and I look forward to the future as a part of this community.