Over the past few years, a general trend has emerged from the shooter genre: brief single-player campaigns laden with scripted-events, coupled with a multiplayer mode so accessible that even the weakest teammate can feel empowered. While these games may offer the swift satisfaction of being able to mow down your enemies with predator missiles or tanks, it isn't without it's price. Often times they feel severely dumbed-down in order to cater to a wider fan-base, resulting in gameplay mechanics that render even the most adept player vulnerable to a sudden, unavoidable death. Counter-Strike is the perfect antithesis to the modern-day shooter, because contrary to most in the genre, Counter-Strike is skill-based. You will never fall victim to a player because of circumstance, as all players have access to the same weapons and gear, and thus are all on a level playing field. As a result, death rarely leaves you feeling cheated, and the game never feels patronizing.


While Counter-Strike: Global Offensive retains the same formula as it's previous iterations, it instead features improved graphics and character models, new weapons, maps, and two new game modes. While the graphics won't drop jaws, they are a noticeable improvement from Counter-Strike: Source, though characters still look a rather stiff. Despite the cosmetic enhancements, the gameplay is largely untouched. Classic still has you purchasing guns and armor on round start, waiting for a new round to respawn, and focusing on setting/disarming the objective, while the two new modes offer up a new experience. In Arms Race, which features a respawn system more akin to modern shooters, you advance through a static chain of weapons by acquiring a kill with each, until a player claims a kill with the final weapon, the golden knife. Demolition, on the other hand, is a fusion of Classic and Arms Race: it remains objective-based, though kills will net you a new gun in the subsequent round. 


For those converting from modern shooters, there's a learning curve: there is no aiming down the sights, keeping your knife equipped is essential for maximum speed, controlled bursts are necessary, working with your team is crucial, and the lower on the body you aim, the less damage you inflict. Another caveat: if you're planning to play on PC, you will likely face a slew of Counter-Strike veterans who are not only more skilled, but are also closely acquainted with the classic maps. Luckily, there's the option to sharpen your skills and study the maps offline against bots of varying difficulty, though it's not as gratifying or demanding as playing against others.


Minor gripes aside, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is an excellent game. It's retained it's classic gameplay which earned it such a passionate following, and instead applied a layer of polish to the rest. Consequently, it's a game that doesn't insult your intelligence or skill level, but still offers plenty of challenge. Global Offensive might not bring anything new to the table, but the result is a shining example that you don't always have to fix what isn't broken.