***Official READER REVIEW: Counter-strike (Xbox) Thread***

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Nov 21, 2003.

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  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    COUNTER-STRIKE (XBOX)

    No. of players: 1 (16 in Live play)
    Xbox Live: FULL (Online play, downloadable content, Live aware, Scoreboards)
    Progressive Scan: YES (480p)
    Widescreen: NO
    Audio: 5.1 surround
    Other Supported Features: Custom Soundtracks, System Link

    $49.95 MSRP (Rated M for Mature)




    Counter-strike, one of the biggest, most popular games for the PC, is finally here for the console crowd. I had never played it before on PC (though I loved Team Fortress), so being new to the whole Counter-strike phenomenon, I didn’t know what to expect.


    GAMEPLAY
    The game consists of two teams: the Terrorists, and the Counter-Terrorists. Each team has a certain objective depending on the play modes, and has a certain time to do so before the round is over. Once the round is over, another round starts until five rounds or so are finished, and then the entire match is started again.

    Before each round you can buy items from a shopping menu (like bomb defusers, sub-machine guns, riot shield & body armor, etc.) The menu is very well done- I can buy a riot shield, a primary gun and ammo, flashbang grenade and armor in less than 7 seconds. Unlike Rainbow Six 3, the menu takes place in-game, so you are completely vulnerable until you finish your purchases. And once you die, your out until the round is over (usually around two minutes or so). It only takes three or four hits to kill you, and since you cannot recharge your health, its all a matter of stealth and accuracy.

    The single player game is atrocious. There is no ladder, no kind of missions or tournament options- you pick a map and bots are used. There is no point to the single player missions because you cannot unlock anything, no stats are recorded, and there is no real objective to playing all the maps. The bots are pretty intelligent, but as it stands, this is a really awful game offline. If you don’t have Xbox Live, then DO NOT buy this game. There is nothing here for the offline gamer. Absolutely nothing. Had the single player game been all Counter-Strike had to offer, it would rank among the worst Xbox titles ever made.

    But this game was built- and meant- for one purpose only: online gaming.

    XBOX LIVE
    When I first started the game on Live and got in a server, I hated it. Thirty minutes later, I hated it even more. An hour passed, and I was angry at all the hype that fooled me into thinking this game was supposedly “the king of all Xbox Live titles.” I was very close to taking the game back where I bought it.

    But two hours passed, and I started to get the hang of it. Three hours and I was still in the same server, in the same map, and picking up on the smaller strategies of CS. Five hours into the game, I finally figured out how CS was meant to be played. And that’s when I finally sat back and enjoyed it. I wasn’t alone: all of the guys playing with me hated the game when we first started, and hours later, couldn’t stop talking about how great it was.

    You will not get the “Whoa! This is awesome!” experience like the first time you played Crimson Skies. But it takes some time- it took me a couple of hours. It may take you a couple of hours, or even days. But once you finally settle into the game, you will look past the graphics and finally see the addictiveness of the gameplay. Heck, as I’m typing this, I can’t wait to go back and play more.

    This is not a run n’ gun type game. I learned that the hard way. Its a take it easy, wait for backup, throw the smoke grenade and take a few shots type of game (but its much faster paced than Rainbow Six 3). The lag is not too bad at all, possibly because the game forces the host to do a dedicated server for a room that holds more than ten people, allowing for smoother gameplay. The Optimatch and loading times into finding a server is somewhat fast also. And...drumroll please...the game has official Xbox Live servers! These have very little lag, with room enough for 16. Nice, Microsoft.

    On a side note, many players I have met today are PC Counter-strike players who love the game for (1) its lack of cheating players, and (2) voice communication, allowing for a more even playing field. This is one of the best Xbox Live games out there, even better than Rainbow Six 3 in terms of gameplay.


    REPLAY VALUE
    Just by playing the game on one map and one server for hours, I can tell that this game will last me a long time. Its very, very deep with almost twenty maps and downloadable content (coming before the end of the year). Of course, if you play offline, this game should last you about as long as it takes reading this review.

    So, we have established that this is a terrific game online, one of the best available Live games out there. Now lets move on to...


    THE HOME THEATER EXPERIENCE

    AUDIO
    The game has been redone in 5.1 surround, and it really sounds as good as it needs to (and then some). The heavy guns have a big punch in sound and bass, while the silenced weapons are hard to hear at all. The terrorist bomb sounds great when it goes off- a big rumble that kicks the subwoofer the most in this game. If your near a grenade when it explodes, there is a soft ear tone sound that deafens the game for a little while. A nice touch, but very subtle.

    For some reason, Microsoft has implemented custom soundtracks during gameplay. Why you would want to hear music during the game (where the sound of gunshots are very important), I have no idea. But its a new experience taking out terrorists while listening to Michael Jackson‘s “Beat It“. Maybe not a good experience, but a new one.

    GRAPHICS
    The game supports progressive scan, but no 16x9 support. The 480p cleans up the game really well, but the graphics...well...they suck. Really bad. I’m talkin’ first generation PS2 bad. Well, there is a subtle effect when you go from an indoor place to outside, as if your eyes were getting used to the sun, which is kinda neat...but that’s as good as the graphics get. The lighting in this game is very bright, as if the sun was a couple of feet away from the earth. The animation of the characters are stiff and jerky. Finally, the interface of the menus is just plain, no-frills text. Again, this is a huge turnoff when you first play the game, but after a couple of hours you will hardly notice them. Trust me.

    Its very disappointing that Microsoft didn’t choose to clean up the game graphically a bit better, but if the graphics were sacrificed to get the game running smoother online, than it was a good decision.

    ...AND THE SMALLER THINGS
    The game comes with a two month free pass for Xbox Live (nice!). The manual is in full color and explains the game nicely, with a great ten page guide going over all the weapons. Make sure you read and absorb every little bit of it. Also, make sure you view the credits in the options menu. There’s some hilarious stuff there.


    FINAL THOUGHTS
    I was a major Return To Castle Wolfenstein player on the Xbox for quite some time, until the hackers ruined all the fun (not to mention the dwindling number of players). I thought Crimson Skies would replace it, but has gotten old with just the five maps (and will pick up considerably when the new maps are released, no doubt). But Counter-strike is the game I have been looking for. With a huge number of maps, great Live support, and addicting gameplay, the release date for Halo 2 doesn’t seem too far after all.

    Just MAKE SURE you give the game a couple of hours before deciding to take it back. Its a better game in terms of online and gameplay than Rainbow Six 3, though its not apparent right away. But now that I have gotten the hang of CS, I know that it has enough for me to keep coming back well after the coming months.

    OVERALL (OFFLINE PLAY ONLY): [​IMG] [​IMG] out of five
    OVERALL (W/ XBOX LIVE): [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of five
     
  2. Christopher_P

    Christopher_P Stunt Coordinator

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    I play (off and on since beta) CS for the PC and I was curious how well are the controls? What about those long range AK/DE shots?

    Haven't played much XBL untill this week when I finally setup my first HT and now i'm really getting into console gaming again on my big screen over my pc. (I just hope the new gen of XBL games have better servers/server browser than Ghost Recon. It was a great game but the server selection sucked. UC was a step in the right direction untill I noticed this week they got rid of the xservers)
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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  4. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    Nice review, David! I liked the way you divided it up into sections, especially (of course) the "home theater experience" part. Straight forward and exactly what I wanted to know in terms of playing the game on my home theater - exactly what is missing from the work of most other (not all) game reviewers...

    One question - do the onlive mission objectives - defuse the bomb, free the hostages - remain in the single player version? Do the bots try to carry out the missions? I know you (and others who have reviewed this title) say single player is worthless, but I might be interested in at least renting it (no Live for me) as long as it isn't just simple deathmatch...I like the idea of bots who try to carry out objectives.

    Also when you mentioned hackers and Wolfenstein...Do you mean the hackers cheat while playing Wolfenstein on Live? That totally, totally sucks...People who cheat at games are the biggest losers. Just so lame.
     
  5. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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  6. Jay Mitchosky

    Jay Mitchosky Producer

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    Nice job David. [​IMG]
     

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