It has been a long time since I’ve played any Counter-Strike. I have long since moved from PC gaming to primarily consoles. I’ve grown to really prefer playing on my couch on the HDTV than slumped over my computer monitor. So I was pretty excited when Valve announced that Counter-Strike Global Offensive would be coming to Xbox Live Arcade, as well as on PC. Maybe my memory of Counter Strike is of it being more fun that it was but CS:GO is not living up to my expectations. Yes, it looks better than past Counter-Strike games but compared to other recently released shooters it does not look that great. I can generally get over average looking graphics if a game is fun, but everything about CS:GO feels dated to me. It does not help that the game was made for PC and ported to Xbox Live Arcade.
Valve did not even take the time to setup the default preferences for the console version. It defaults to expecting a monitor and the controls map the the first few options to the controller. So, before you start playing go into the options and set it for television mode and change the controller layout to suit your preferences. Once I spent some time in the options the game felt a little better but it still feels play a quick port. There are not even options for common things like subtitles. You’ll just have to do without them. Some people will argue that these are minor things but they added to my overall frustration with the game. It is not that anything is terrible or broken, just that it would be nice for Valve to take the time to put a little effort into the console version. Still, the fact they put it on Xbox Live Arcade at all is good to see. Hopefully it will get more updates than Team Fortress 2 did when they released it with The Orange Box for Xbox 360. If Valve supports the console version of CS:GO it looks like there is a strong community of gamers who will be playing it there for a long time. I had no issue jumping into a match and having it fill up quickly, and I never had any issues with lag. It ran smoothly the entire time I was playing.
Once I got my setup sorted out and got into a game I was promptly reminded that some of the maps are from the past games but updated with better graphics. My reminder came from the other team quickly flanking me through a room I forgot about and shooting me in the back. As I played longer, got used to the controls and started to remember the maps I was doing ok kill/death wise. Unfortunately, this did not equate to having more fun. While there are new game modes to try, and casual modes for guys like me, the core game is still designed for the long time Counter-Strike fan. While I still like team based shooters, even fast paced ones, the unforgiving nature of CS:GO is just not fun for me anymore. Maybe I’ve just gotten to old to fit into that crowd, but I don’t see myself playing Counter-Strike Global Offensive regularly. I realize I’ve probably lost my “hardcore gamer” title but I can live with that.
For those people looking for a skill based shooter CS:GO is probably going to be a great deal for them. Yes, the weapons have been tweaked from the original but they still require precision and control. If you blindly hold the trigger and fire wildly, you’re not going to hit anyone. I did like the training run that lets you try out the weapons and see how much damage they do at a given range and target. You can get a really good feel for which weapons will fit your play style in there. After figuring out which weapons I liked and getting familiar with the maps again my enjoyment improved greatly. I was able to actually help my team win some rounds and eventually started getting close to the level of play I remember being at in the past.
If you were a big Counter-Strike fan back in the day then Counter-Strike Global Offensive will probably be a lot of fun for you as you take a nostalgic trip through a hardcore shooter. For everyone else just save your $15 and a lot of frustration. If you are a PC gamer then Counter-Strike Global Offensive might be more to your liking. It was clearly designed for PC gamers so playing it on Steam probably is a ton more fun than playing on Xbox Live Arcade. Still, if XBLA is your only option and you are willing to put in the effort there is fun to be had in CS:GO. For me it just too long getting there.
A copy of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for XBLA was provided to us for this review from Valve