Luckily, Global Offensive is replete with ways to get all three. First, you can practice against bots, using the time to get a feel for the controls and learn the maps, the choke-points and the sneaky routes to hostages and bomb sites without the humiliation of fighting against someone who’s happy to inform you how badly you suck.
Secondly, Global Offensive has two more accessible new modes of play. Arms Race, derived from the old Gun Game mod, is a simple team deathmatch variation. Killing other players earns you a new level and a new gun, and the winner is the first player to go through all the levels and use all the guns. The maps are smaller and designed specifically for fast-paced mindless violence, and this mode allows respawning, so noobs don’t have to spend all their time watching other players play. It’s a great way to get used to the basic look and feel.
Meanwhile Demolition combines classic Counter-Strike with Arms Race. There’s no respawning this time, but smaller, tighter maps and the same kill to get new guns mechanic make it faster and more action packed than standard Counter-Strike. Rounds have a nice, low time limit, and the great thing about both Arms Race and Demolition is that the guns you earn aren’t necessarily better. There’s some nice balancing when someone who has dominated the game through long-range fire suddenly has to fight with a pistol or a shotgun while weaker players are still fielding assault rifles and SMGs. Global Offensive remains a game of skill with little space for the spray-and-pray approach, but there’s now room for new players’ skills to grow.
Many of those new players will be experiencing Counter-Strike on a console. Having played the game years ago on PC, it’s a bit of a shock playing with an Xbox 360 controller, and with no auto-aim or iron-sights and less precision, even experienced Counter-Strike players may find the going tough. Still, while there’s no question that Counter-Strike feels and looks better and more natural on PC, it’s still a worthy buy for console gamers. It’s stripped-back, skill-focused approach and blistering pace give it a different feel to Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare.
On PC Global Offensive sees Counter-Strike return with better looks but the same feel that made it great back in 1999. New modes and options make it a bit more accessible to beginners, but for PC gamers of a certain generation this will be the most exciting comeback since The Stone Roses. Console gamers might miss the nostalgia factor, and analogue pads and killer accuracy don’t exactly go hand in hand. Yet Counter-Strike’s virtues still shine through. It’s challenging, addictive and – yes - still as relevant today as ever.