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Valve / Ritual Entertainment / Turtle Rock



M (Mature)



Q4 2003



- Totally addicting and fast-paced Xbox Live gameplay
- Great online setup makes it easy to join or set up and customize the game to your liking
- Weapon/equipment purchase system rewards online winning



- Absolutely no reason to buy this game for the single-player game alone
- Better-than-PC graphics, but not up to Xbox standards
- Miniscule targeting reticle takes a lot of getting used to, especially for players of any of the Xbox Live Tom Clancy games



Review: Counter-Strike (PC)

Review: SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals (PS2)

Review: Rainbow Six 3 (XB)

Review: Return to Castle Wolfenstein - Tides of War (XB)



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Score: 8.0 / 10


counter-strike xbox review          counter-strike xbox review


It started out innocently enough as a mod of the PC hit Half-Life. But Counter-Strike soon exploded to become one of the Internetís most-played games, still going strong even today. Finally, Counter-Strike makes its highly-anticipated home console debut, with mixed results. It has lackluster graphics for an Xbox title (even though they are superior to the PC visuals), has no value whatsoever as a single-player game, and doesnít offer too many new features over the PC version (which still can be downloaded for free) to really entice hardcore PC Counter-Strike veterans into buying the Xbox version. But with Xbox Live support, Counter-Strike is a superb online game, especially for first-person shooter fans whoíve never played the PC version. Counter-Strike is just so much damn bloody fun over Live, anybody with a Live subscription will be able to forgive its transgressions and enjoy playing the addictive Counter-Strike for many, many online hours.

This isnít a very deep game by any means -- this isn't a Tom Clancy tactical shooter. But thatís the charm of Counter-Strike. This is an all-out fast-paced,




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action-packed first person shooter offering two gameplay scenarios: Hostage Rescue and Demolition. Choosing between either the terrorist team of the counter-terrorist team decides what your objective will be while playing Counter-Strike. If youíre a terrorist, you must prevent the hostages from getting rescued or plant bombs at one of the two marked bomb sites. Counter-terrorist goals are the opposite: rescue the


hostages or prevent the bomb-planting or defuse a planted bomb.

There are a few additions to Counter-Strike on the Xbox compared to its PC edition. Xbox gamers have 16 maps, including each of the PCís maps and seven exclusive to the Xbox. There are 22 weapons total between the two sides, improved graphics, and two single-player tutorials. But donít be fooled by the inclusion of a single-player mode in Counter-Strike. This is designed completely for online gameplay on Live, with the tutorial providing only the opportunity to get familiar with the level layout and using the different weapons. You would expect to get some good practice sessions against the gameís A.I. bots to prepare you somewhat for playing online, but even on their highest difficulty setting, Counter-Strikeís A.I. bots act illogically and sometimes just straight-up stupid, not providing any type of challenge that would be ideal practice for Xbox Live gameplay. Short and simple, if you donít have Live, you shouldnít be buying Counter-Strike, because thereís nothing here at all worth recommending to non-Live gamers.

But for Live subscribers, Counter-Strike merits purchase consideration if you like arcade-style FPS games along the lines of another similar game in the genre, Castle Wolfenstein. Whatever gameplay scenario you pick, be prepared for some seriously rapid, on-the-fly and addictive gaming.

Online you can set up games on any of the maps with a host of customizable options for up to 16 gamers. And in Counter-Strike itís definitely the more the merrier as far as really sweet online gameplay sessions are concerned.

The weakest area of Counter-Strike is the gameís graphics. The PC version of Counter-Strike comes from a game engine over a half-decade old already. The developers did indeed pump up the visuals for the Xbox translation of Counter-Strike, but itís clear that the game doesnít come close to using the full rendering power of the Xbox. (There are a bunch of different character models that appear in the game, most decked out in some sort of camouflage wear, and that sometimes creates problems on levels where both the terrorist and counter-terrorist teams are in similar outfits. If you hesitate shooting just a split second while deciphering if the guy you have your gun pointed towards is an enemy or not, it could cost you your own life. Counter-Strike could have definitely used a bit more differentiation in the design of the men-with-guns running around the in the game.) The animations arenít smooth either, and this will be really apparent to anybody whoís played Rainbow Six 3. Where Counter-Strike wonít disappoint visually is in the blood quotient. A Mature-rated game, Counter-Strike is extremely violent, with pint upon pint of blood being spewed with reckless abandon. Counter-Strike isnít about good looks however, and with its rapid gameplay, you wonít have time to stand around and notice the visuals anyway. Counter-Strike does make good use of its sound elements. If you have a good ear, youíll use the sounds of footsteps to figure out how close or far away a potential enemy is.


counter-strike xbox review         counter-strike xbox review

An interesting gameplay feature is the buy menu where youíll be able to upgrade your equipment and weapons. At the beginning of a match, everybodyís all evenly equipped with pistols. But if your team wins the round by killing all the other teamís members, you are rewarded with funds that will allow you to purchase better weapons and also equipment such as armor or incendiary devices. If you stay alive through the next round, youíll retain the bought weapon that you currently have. But if you die, you will lose it and have to earn more money to again upgrade your weaponry. Counter-Strike gives teams an incentive to win and stay alive to keep their upgraded weaponry edge throughout the match.

When it comes to controlling the action during gameplay, Counter-Strike comes in relatively strong, even having a jump control that can sometimes be the difference between escaping enemy fire and death. Even with the fast-paced nature of game sessions, itís easy to move where you want to go, although lag can affect your online movement from time to time. The only control mechanism that can be bothersome initially is weapon targeting. I am not particularly fond of Counter-Strikeís targeting reticule, especially after getting used to the larger reticule found in Ghost Recon: Island Thunder and Rainbow Six 3. Counter-Strikeís targeting reticule is much too small, making it hard to accurately shoot from far distances (or a lot of face-to-face shootouts, quite frankly) unless you have a scope on your weapon. But most of the guns found in Counter-Strike have no scope, so until you put some serious gameplaying time in, expect to encounter frustration issues while targeting enemies, particularly while on the move.

Certainly, Counter-Strike doesnít have the depth or complexity of Rainbow Six 3, another recently-released Live shooter. But if you donít play or have no intention of playing the PC edition of Counter-Strike and are looking for a great, pure-fun Xbox Live shooter title without putting much emphasis on stellar graphics or a single-player mode, then you should target in on Counter-Strike.

- Lee Cieniawa

(December 17, 2003)


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