Counter-Strike: Global Offensive review

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive doesn't do much to reinvent the game, as it feels more like Counter-Strike: Source with a shiny new coat of paint. It's a fine jumping-on point for newcomers, but feels like a pricey update for CS veterans.


The Counter-Strike formula is universally recognizable and has been since it first saw the light of day in 1999 as a Half-Life mod. While it has undergone several iterations, the point has always been the same. Counter-Terrorists and Terrorists fight for honor and glory in a series of best of 10 matches. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive doesn't do much to reinvent this wheel, as it feels more like Counter-Strike: Source with a shiny new coat of paint. It's a fine jumping-on point for newcomers, but feels like a pricey update for CS veterans.

CS: GO looks undeniably gorgeous. Many classic CS maps make their return with fresh new detail and visually stunning effects. For example, Aztec is once again a part of the map rotation. In addition to new textures, players will notice weather effects as they trudge through the terrain. Many of the other classic maps feature similar upgrades, offering more realistic visuals than previous CS games. Veterans will feel right at home in many of these maps.

Classic CS game modes return with some interface changes and little else. Purchasing upgrades now puts the players into a shop wheel, something that feels easier to console players and might jar PC players. After that initial phase is over, it's classic CS gameplay all the way. The formula of Terrorists planting a bomb or Counter-Terrorists rescuing hostages remains unchanged. That's not a bad thing, as these game modes still feel fun and engaging, for however brief they last. Many games come down to players scoring lucky headshots, but that feels like it's become an accepted aspect of CS games, at this point.

Valve and Hidden Path have attempted to add value to CS: GO by adding new game modes, both of which are based on the Gun Game mod from CS: Source. The first one, Arms Race, sounds like a good idea on paper, but quickly devolves into guys running around like chickens with their heads cut off and shooting blindly. The object of Arms Race is to score a kill with each of CS: GO's weapons (excluding grenades), with players immediately being switched to a new gun after each successful kill. It's a cool idea, but the small sizes of the maps made spawn camping far too easy, which took a lot of the fun away. Also, since the game ends when one person reaches the scoring limit, there's really no emphasis in team play. It's simply a bunch of guys shooting at each other without a sense of strategy.

The second new game mode, Demolition, is much more interesting. Demolition is structured into sessions of best of 20, while also doing away with the shop in favor of making players earn weapon upgrades/downgrades with kills. It's a fun twist of the traditional CS formula, made better by the fact that this mode exclusively uses brand new maps, all of which offer the right amount of space to maneuver. A person favorite is Lake, which takes place around a lake house and can bring firefights to various parts of the house or outside near the deck.

CS games remain a consistent source of entertainment and CS: GO is no exception. However, veterans of CS: Source and CS 1.6 should rightfully put some thought into whether the upgrade is worth it, given that GO doesn't bring a lot of new content to the table. That could change later, since Valve has fully opened the door for community content, including additions like the new zombie mod. Newcomers looking to see what the CS phenomenon is about are encouraged to start with GO. Although, they're cautioned to bring along some friends, since public servers can often have little tolerance for the inexperienced.

This Counter-Strike: Global Offensive review is based on a digital PC version of the game provided by the publisher. The game is now available on PC, Mac, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 24, 2012 9:30 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive review.

    Counter-Strike: Global Offensive doesn't do much to reinvent the game, as it feels more like Counter-Strike: Source with a shiny new coat of paint. It's a fine jumping-on point for newcomers, but feels like a pricey update for CS veterans.

    • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      August 24, 2012 9:40 AM

      I don't understand your reasoning, CS vets are exactly the people who will get the most out of their $15. People who don't currently feel like playing CS1.6 or CS:S are the ones who should be cautious.

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        August 24, 2012 9:44 AM

        There wasn't a whole lot of "new" in this game, aside from new visuals. If you're a vet already having fun with CS 1.6 or CS:S, I don't see a lot of reason to plunk down $15.

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          August 24, 2012 1:39 PM

          New game modes
          New guns
          New gear
          Balance changes to existing weapons
          Lots of map changes
          Reworking the money system
          New voice overs
          New bot ai
          Elo ranking

          Totally just some new skims though and nothing new.....

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          August 24, 2012 1:52 PM

          Are you classing "new" as "radically redesigned gameplay"

          Because thank fuck its not "new". Too many games have fucked with what their original got so right in an effort to clone the success of another franchise that we now just have Battle of Duty 20xx from various publishers.

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          August 26, 2012 9:54 AM

          Its $15... Support devs, nuff said I think.

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        August 24, 2012 11:37 AM

        I disagree. Someone who has played 1.6 for years and have mastered bunny hopping and the mechanics of the engine will sudden fail in CS:GO because no of those memorized patterns won't play the same. They will be the first to say the game sucks and go back to playing what they have memorized.

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          August 24, 2012 1:45 PM

          I have been playing 1.6 for a decade now and definitely am not failing. I have gone back to playing esea pugs since pub games are so weak and boring. Some 1.6 players will resist it, but I think the majority are enjoying it so far.

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      August 24, 2012 9:42 AM

      I'm waiting on the reverse sale to buy this. Valve needs more of my money. Let me know when this is back to 49.99 or 59.99, then I'm buying it.

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        August 24, 2012 11:35 AM

        Just buy 4 copies and give 3 to shackers. That would be the best way to support the game and the shack.

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      August 24, 2012 9:43 AM

      I am pretty surprised they didn't take the TF2 approach, release it for free, and include micro payments for uniforms, badges, taunts, etc.

      • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
        August 24, 2012 9:47 AM

        What they did is much more respectful of the game I think. The amount of metagame systems and crap they would have to add to make a profit from F2P would completely change the tone of the game. I'm skeptical that the business model is even viable with cosmetic stuff alone, and if they ever touched the guns all hell would break loose.

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          August 24, 2012 1:20 PM

          Dota is proving that the business model is viable w/ 100% cosmetic ideas, albeit in a different genre.

          I've already spent more than I do on most full-price games

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            August 24, 2012 2:45 PM

            I can definitely see cosmetic-only purchases being a big deal in CS:GO. If such a thing existed back in 1.6, I would have been all over it back in the day. At the very least they should charge for each custom porn spray you want :P

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        August 24, 2012 9:51 AM

        Well, this is the TF2 approach. Sell the shit out of it then make it F2P and add mico payments to further its life and value. Making a game that people would pay money for from the start F2P just seems dumb to me. TF2 did it right by just evolving that way.

        • Zek legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
          August 24, 2012 11:31 AM

          I don't think TF2's F2P hooks are well implemented in the slightest. If they had launched it that way it would probably have looked very different. Same thing so many MMOs have discovered, it's hard to take an existing conventional game and just rebrand it as F2P. Games like LoL and Tribes: Ascend do it much better being built that way from the start.

    • reply
      August 24, 2012 9:46 AM

      I wasn't nearly as good in this video as I was with the TF2 MvM video. Then again, I was playing in a pub server this time around. =P

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      August 24, 2012 11:42 AM

      That "shiny new coat of paint" doesn't look very shiny or new.

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        August 24, 2012 11:59 AM

        Old and crumpled, is more like it. This isn't 2006.

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      August 24, 2012 12:59 PM

      I've not played CS in ages but I think the new maps in the demolition mode alone make it more than worth the price and have got me properly hooked again.

    • reply
      August 24, 2012 1:27 PM


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      August 24, 2012 1:41 PM

      As a vet, its great. Great price point and its on my ps3.

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      August 24, 2012 1:57 PM

      shacknews i love ya kids but please.. please get proper footage... capturing card/ happauge tools are a worthwhile investment..

      Or at least use PC footage D:

      plz k thx bai

      • reply
        August 24, 2012 2:03 PM

        Actually, that is PC footage. FRAPS.

        Hauppauge tools come later, for console footage.

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          August 27, 2012 4:09 PM

          Interesting, I'm guessing you played with a controller then?

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            August 28, 2012 10:09 AM

            Yeah, I have one hooked up to my PC at the Shack offices.

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      August 24, 2012 2:28 PM

      As a CS vet who skipped Source when it came out, it is a great update for the money. This is no Condition Zero.

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      August 24, 2012 2:45 PM

      I think your opinion on CS veterans... *shades* misses the target.

      $15 is considered "pricey" now? I've had a beta key for a while, and the new gameplay modes + the graphics update do more than enough to justify the purchase. If they were charging $50 or $60 you might have a point, but they're not.

      Valve should not be expected to:
      a) Retool the graphics (plus develop the other changes/additions) for free.
      b) Mess with the CS formula too much, due to the insane whining that would ensue.

      I'm not sure what your alternative would have been, other than Valve simply not making CS:GO.

    • reply
      August 25, 2012 9:02 PM

      Still screenshots make this game look better than it is. Cool update, I get it its a different game than MW/BF series, but quality wise it doesn't deliver in this day and age.


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