"The insanely popular PC game makes its debut on Xbox"
Counter strike is an interesting game. It shows modification developers everywhere that if you have the right formula you can make the big time. The developers are now some of the most well known people in the industry and all this from a Half-Life mod. Counter strike is now out for the Xbox and although it relies heavily on Xbox Live they have done a fantastic job for this port.
For those of you who don't know, Counter strike features two teams; the counter-terrorists and terrorists. Each team has a set number of players (in the case of the Xbox version up to eight on each side) and the object is to eliminate the other team. Once you die in game, you can't rejoin the action until the round ends. There are other objectives such as planting a bomb for the terrorists, or rescuing hostages for the counter-terrorists but you will find most of the time players just go after each other rather then those objectives.
Performing tasks grants you money and with this money you can buy weapons. It can at times seem like a vicious circle. If you're not winning or defeating enemies, you're not getting money and can't buy the powerful guns and armor. Even with this theory, the game is quite balanced and it's never known just who is going to win until the round is over. You get money for rescuing hostages (as counter-terrorist), setting off the bomb (as terrorists) or killing enemies. The amount varies on the task performed.
There are three main game modes in the Xbox version of Counter strike; training, single player and online play. The training obviously teaches you things such as how to buy weapons, move around, shoot and perform the various objectives in the game. Single player allows you to run a server with AI controlled bots to practice offline and that's really all the single player is. There is no mission objectives other then the defuse bomb or rescue hostages etc. One quirk with the single player game is the bots will use the in built game commands. This is fine but when you're used to voice coming into your ear online via other human players it can be annoying.
There has been a notable change with the teams for the Xbox version. Not only does it have one exclusive counter-terrorist and terrorist team but the teams are now all the same. In the PC version you could choose which unit you wanted to be, now you only choose your team. This has made it significantly easier to pick out enemies and team mates. The character models look fantastic and are highly detailed to fit in with the surrounding environments. Sometimes you will be Navy Seals other times you will be a SWAT team.
The weapons load out basically mirrors that of the latest PC version and does include the riot shield. Some weapons do not have their real names however due to licensing issues. This can be quite annoying as you might want to pick your favourite gun from the PC version yet you won't know its name. The looks have not changed so its not a major problem however it does appear as if the graphics for the guns have been toned down a little because of the lower resolution a TV provides. The sniper guns do not have a crosshair making them harder to use.
The AI featured in the single player game is fairly smart and you can also add bots to your online games should you wish to. They seemed to have been trained to know where to camp the best places on each level and which are the best weapons to use. They have varying difficulty levels to select and even on the lowest difficulty level can offer a challenge should you wish to play the game offline.
One crucial area for the game was always going to be the controls but they have passed with flying colours. The controls are really intuitive and it doesn't take to long before you're pulling off headshots left right and centre. A is used for Jump, B is used for secondary fire, right trigger fires, left trigger crouches, Y is used to change weapon and X is used to reload with the two analogue sticks used to move both the player and the gun view. The only real problem with the controls is why the secondary fire was not made clicking in the right thumbstick.
Some classic maps from the PC version have made the transition across but the Xbox version also has some exclusive ones which will take players time to learn. Maps such as Dust, Cobble, Militia etc should be instantly recognisable but other ones such as one set in a Subway or Snow covered areas will not. The fact is that unfortunately because the older maps most people already know they seem the most playable. Some of the new maps are quite detailed such as Havana which has you rescuing hostages as the counter-terrorists.
Visually Counter strike isn't going to win any awards on the Xbox but does look superior to the PC version. The character animations are superb and the player models highly detailed. The guns seemed to have been toned down a little but the levels look to have had a few texture changes and have had objects such as jeeps added for atmosphere. Overall though you're not going to be buying Counterstrike for the graphics. Sound is much the same as the PC version although it does support Dolby 5.1
Overall Counter strike is a great addition to any players Xbox Live library. The game heavily relies on Xbox Live and really should have a sticker on the front saying Xbox Live required but for those who want to stick it out, the single player game can also be enjoyable in short spurts. The biggest problem is you're paying good money for a game that's five years old and freely downloadable for Half-Life PC owners. If you can handle that then Counter strike will offer you a great online gaming experience.