Counter-Strike has become a global phenomenon in the area of online PC gaming, but is it wirth the bother in its Xbox rendition?
By Rick Larson
Starting out as a simple mod to the classic Half-Life, Counter-Strike has since attracted millions to its enticing gameplay. Now it's the Xbox's turn. Right off the bat it must be said: unless you have Xbox Live there isn't much of a reason to buy this game. It's as simple as that really.
Xbox Counter-Strike does feature the unique and addictive online gameplay that made the PC mod ever so popular, but it lacks any sort of single player campaign. No story, no missions, nothing. If you plan on playing single player, you'll be playing the exact same thing as online player just replacing the real people with bots.
I won't go too hard on the single player though. Some serious credit has to be given to Valve for its top-notch AI. Putting the difficulty on the highest setting will offer an eerie feeling that you may actually be playing against online competitors. They run and gun realistically, while at the same time providing bots that tend to camp like the annoying 10 year olds that seem to populate the game on Live. So as a single player experience it's very lacking, but can give you a pretty good idea of what the online aspect is like.
As an online game, Counter-Strike is just as mesmerizing as it's PC counterpart. It will leave any FPS fan addicted for hours on end, trying to be the best of the best, which is no easy task. It seems as though no matter how many hours you put in there is another guy that seems to have 26 hours of playing time a day. The question must be asked then - what makes this online game so thrilling?
It's really hard to nail down what makes the gameplay so enticing. While it seems very basic with only two types of play, it still has the hook. Hostage Rescue and Demolition are the two game types offered and vary based on the map chosen. Hostage Rescue revolves around the counter terrorist force finding a group of hostages and returning them safely to a specified rescue point. The terrorists simply have to try and stop the CT forces from getting the hostages. Demolition requires the terrorist force to plant an explosive at one of two bombing sites and then protect before a CT can disarm it in a certain amount of time.
During each game there are a certain number of rounds. At the beginning of each round players start with a weapons/item buying screen. It's very easy to use and is based off of a money system. This system requires you to get cash by winning rounds. You also get more money by being the person to rescue a hostage, or disarming a bomb. It adds an extra layer of depth to the somewhat simple make up of the game. It also makes it necessary for you to win in order to get better weapons.
Online the game can support up to 16 players which is great, but often hard to come by. If you happen to stumble on one of these dedicated servers there's a high chance that it's probably laggy. The majority of games will consist of ten players which is a pretty decent number. It never feels crowded and never feels empty so it works out.
While online be prepared to take on some extremely talented players that can just about frag everyone on the opposing team. It can become insane and motivates you to become better. That along with the smack talk and corpse humping (just for added effect) come as a part of the whole glorious online package. It really must be played to understand how much fun it is.
The Xbox version is graphically a step up from the dated PC version but it's still far from eye candy. Character models are very basic with little animation. The environments, while good in structure just aren't that nice to look at and lack almost any form of interaction. The textures have been upped a bit which does make it fairly nice but these graphics are far from what this generation of games has to offer.
The sound is very basic but does offer different noises for each gun. The game allows the custom sound track feature which is a good thing. The basic music that comes with the game seems dull and boring. CS does feature DD5.1 audio which can really help in certain situations. If you are defusing a bomb it helps to hear approaching enemies that want a knife kill while you are helplessly defusing a bomb. Other than that the sound isn't all that great.
This is the type of game that makes Live so enjoyable. Gamers can just hop in with the easy to get used to controls and immediately find themselves immerged. Other than Live play though the game lacks in several areas. It's worth a try on single player but without any motive to play, it can become dull quickly offline. If you get it for Live, you'll definitely love it.