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Counter-Strike’s sequel is a blast but there’s no avoiding online bigots

CS Source had its issues, but Valve have learnt their lesson to create an inexpensive and enjoyable sequel, writes Andrew Passarello.

CS:GO’s demolition mode in action
CS:GO’s demolition mode in action

Counter-Strike is a video game series that needs little introduction. The premise of the competitive first person shooter game is simple: two teams are pitted against each other and battle over objectives like planting and defusing bombs or rescuing hostages – typical past-times for terrorists and counter-terrorists. Originally a community modification for Half-Life, a professionally developed sequel came in 2004 called Counter-Strike: Source. While popular, it was not well received in the more competitive gaming community.

By attracting so many players, the series has developed a reputation for harbouring many of the less than pleasant online gamers. The game is somewhat cursed by its own popularity. Uncouth, potty-mouthed pre-teens seem to dominate. Arguably, this is the demographic that dominates every online game since the internet came into being, but between the integrated voice chat and the ability to ‘spray’ user generated images onto walls in the game, Valve has provided many opportunities for players to be even more obnoxious and abusive than usually possible.

Enter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Developed with community feedback through a large BETA testing program, the new game from Valve Software intends to update the game for 2012, and address a lot of the concerns players had with the previous title in the series.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive offers an opportunity for the game’s community to start anew. Dispense with the unfriendly attitude towards new players and the constant shrieking of racist or homophobic epithets over microphone. This reporter had the game ready to go at pre-release, and dived in to find out what had changed.

A typical scene from the previous Counter-Strike: Source

“Nice block, f*g”

Not 30 seconds into my first round of the game and I had seemingly upset someone on my own team by causing their death due to, I suppose, getting in their way. In the next round, unperturbed by my public excoriation, I followed the same player and hoped the unbreakable bond of both being brave counter-terrorists would make our initial disagreement just water under the bridge. Not so, as the same voice shrieked “stop F**KING BLOCKING, JESUS CHRIST, F**KING C**T” over microphone.

The game itself is actually quite enjoyable. It definitely represents just a tweak to a formula that works exceedingly well, rather than a complete evolution. For only $15 USD though, I’m sure most players won’t mind. Fast paced, frenetic and exciting, there is much enjoyment here to be had for the price of entry.

The player community isn’t so bad either, despite my initial experience. While I was referred to as “dirt”, had renal failure wished upon me, and accused of cheating on various occasions, people are largely pleasant and fun to play with. The best feature from the previous titles, the classic “mute” function, makes a return too. Short work is made of those who appear to have no purpose in life beyond playing dubstep through their microphone to everyone in a 32 player server.

Ultimately, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is inexpensive, full of content and an absolute blast to play with a good group of friends. It will be available on PC, OS X, 360 and PS3 from August 22.