Archives by Day


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Xbox Review - 'Counter-Strike'

by Eric on Jan. 18, 2004 @ 1:33 a.m. PST

"Counter-Strike," the world's most popular online action game and first-person shooter for the PC, makes its console debut exclusively on Xbox and Xbox Live. "Counter-Strike" features single-player missions taking place over a gritty realistic counterterrorist world, and allows gamers to challenge other players in team-based multiplayer games on Xbox Live and System Link. Read more for the full review ...

Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ritual
Release Date: November 18, 2003


After years and years of updates on the PC, the Half Life mod Counter-Strike has finally hit a home console. The most played on-line action game ever is now out for your favorite green and black console, but was it worth the long wait? Some sites say yes, others say no, but here is what we say...

When Counter-Strike was released years ago on PC, it quickly took the gaming world by storm. At the time of release, CS was a much slower-paced and much more realistic style of FPS than other games out at the time, like Quake 2. It really did a lot of things differently that other FPS were not doing, like no respwaning until the next round, realistic damage and more tactical-based game play that really made you work with your team to win. In a genre that was dominated by fast-paced death match first person shooters, CS was a welcome breath of fresh air. Being a free mod to one of the best-selling PC games of all time really didn't hurt things either.

For the few of you who don't already know, CS is a team-based on-line FPS where one team plays as the counter-terrorist force and the other team plays as the terrorist force in a set number of rounds. When all of the rounds have been played, whichever team has the most wins is the winner. Sounds simple, right? Well it's much more complex than that. Both teams have a mission to do on every map. If you are a terrorist, you either have to plant a bomb at a set location on the map or guard some hostages. If you are a counter-terrorist, you have to defuse the bomb (if planted) or rescue the hostages. If these missions are not completed within the time given on the map, then that team will lose the round. That is not the only way to win in CS. Regardless of the missions on a map, one team can always win by killing all of the members of other team. More often than not, this is how the round will end.

CS is a very realistic FPS, and that is one of the reasons why it has been so popular. Over the years, there have been many updates to the game, and it shows. All of the weapons, teams, maps, controls and gun physics have been finely tuned to near perfection. Both teams have their own selection of guns, but despite the differences, both teams are extremely balanced, and there is no one gun that outperforms all others in the game. The aiming control is also finely tuned and surprisingly made the transition from the mouse and keyboard to the Xbox controller very well. Thanks to a very nice fast look feature, you are able to look around quickly, while still being able to slow your movement when you get ready to fire. This is done by pushing the looking joystick in until it clicks and then in the direction you want to look. This is a very nice feature and one that all console FPS should make use of in the future. In the PC version, aiming took the fine movements of a mouse to get off good kill shots. One of the big worries about porting the game to a console with a controller was that the feel of that high level of precision would be lost. Thankfully, this is not the case. The game developers have done a great job in keeping the same feel of the PC version in the controls. While not quite as precise, the game still plays very much like the PC version on the Xbox controller. You can still make those same amazing sniping shots with the controller, and head shots are just as common and take just as much skill as the PC version. It actually surprised me quite a bit when I was playing the game for the first time, and I was able to do all of the same moves on the Xbox controller that I normally did on my PC, and it felt the same. Major kudos to the developer(s) who translated the controls from a mouse and keyboard to a controller and did not lose the same feel. Amazing job!

Another big part of the game is the money system that is in place. Each round, you start out with a set amount of money and have to buy the weapons that you want to use. Depending on how you and your team do in the round, you can earn more money and eventually get enough money to buy some of the bigger and better guns. Even the lower-end guns can still be extremely deadly in the right hands, and that is one of the joys of Counter-Strike. The gun physics are easily the best I have seen in a game; each gun fires differently and has its own fire pattern. Some guns can only get off a round or two before they start to spray wildly, while others can get off as many as six shots. Part of the strategy in CS is learning how each gun fires and how to use it. All of the guns have a kick to them, and simply holding down the fire button will not get you very far. Just like in real life, you have to shoot in small bursts, and finding out just how big of a burst to fire with each gun is a game in itself. Other factors can also improve your precision, such as crouching when shooting because it makes you a smaller target and lets you stabilize your aim.

Managing the weapons is a big part of the game, but learning the maps is a very important advantage as well. Every map has open areas and closed areas, and knowing where they are is very important. One of the quickest ways to die in CS is walking out in a wide open area where the other team can kill you with one well-placed sniper shot. It's also important to learn all of a map so you know which direction the other team will come from or which paths your team should take to reach the other team's location. Also, every map has very good camping spots where you can get great shots on the other team, and I cannot emphasize enough how extremely important it is that you learn these spots and and make use of them. Camping might be frown upon in a game like Quake, but in CS, it is actually an important part of the game play, especially if you are a terrorist.

The most important game play aspect of CS is teamwork. CS is a team-based game, but unlike similar games out there, it puts much more importance on actually working together as a team. Keeping track of your teammates' location and bearing is very important. It is always best to stick with your team, but if you do go off on your own, always keep track of where your teammates are on the radar so you can provide backup and cover. You should also get in the habit of checking all angles of a room when you enter and watching your teammates' backs. If you are on a team that works together and are playing against a team that is not, your team will win nine times out of 10. Thanks to the XBL headset, you can talk to your teammates and come up with good plans to try and counter the other team. This is one area where CS on Xbox really shines; in a game where good teamwork is a must, the headset plays a big role in making things much easier, and ultimately, much more fun.

As a mod for Half Life, the PC version of Counter-Strike is running on a five-year-old graphics engine and consequently looks a bit dated, even when compared to the very worst of today's games. Unfortunately, Valve did not build a new graphics engine for the Xbox version to take advantage of the new hardware, but they did update the graphics quite a bit over the PC version. CS' emphasis was never on the graphics in the first place but on the game play, and all of that was ported flawlessly. The Xbox version makes use of much more detailed 24- and 32-bit textures and some improved texture filtering, thanks to the support of AF. All of the player models have been redone with a big increase in polygons, and all of the maps have had a good bit of work done to them too. Besides the more detailed textures, new objects have been added to the maps, and the level of detail in them has really been improved. The lighting engine has also been reworked with better lighting and shadows. While CS won't impress anyone with its graphics, it won't send them running for the hills either. They get the job done, and when you got game play that is this good, the graphics take a back seat anyway.

Is Counter-Strike for the Xbox worth its $50 price tag when you can still download the PC version for free? Without a doubt, YES! Many sites have looked at the Xbox version of the game and only see it as a port of a free PC mod, but there is much more to it than that. To this day, CS is still one of the most addicting games out there. Every aspect of the game play from the PC version was ported flawlessly to Xbox and works well on a controller. The graphics have been upgraded quite a bit, and there are some exclusive maps tossed in. The thing that makes CS for Xbox worth the money, even if you have the PC version, is playing it on Xbox Live with no cheaters. The PC version has had many, many problems with cheating from day one, and thanks to XBL, you can now play CS and not have to wonder if the guy who got that head shot has really good aim or is using an aim bot. This sense of comfort, combined with the other improved features, makes the Xbox version of Counter-Strike the best version out there, bar none. Even if you have the PC version, the Xbox version is still worth the price tag. I now play the Xbox version exclusively due to the better graphics and the lack of cheating.

That being said, it is very difficult to recommend this game to anyone who does NOT have Xbox Live. The Xbox version does have bot support for off-line play, and the bot AI is quite amazing and realistic. Oftentimes, it is almost impossible to tell if you're playing against the AI or real people on-line. However, there are no off-line missions, split screen support, or story. Off-line, all you do is play a set of rounds like you do on-line, just without real people. This is fun for a while, but it does not have the depth of real on-line play. CS was always meant to be an on-line game, and that standard also applies to the Xbox version. Due to the poor single player mode in this game and the lack of improvements made over the PC version, the final score will be quite a bit lower. Even though the graphics were improved quite a bit, they still fall short of what we know the Xbox is capable of. Don't let the final score fool you, though. Counter-Strike is easily one of the best on-line titles for Xbox and is still one of the most fun and addicting games out there. Valve could have done a lot more with this title, specially in the off-line modes, but as it is, it is still a fine game, assuming you have XBL.

Score 8.0/10

blog comments powered by Disqus