CS:GO Review – 2024’s Ultimate Tactical Shooter

Still going strong after over a decade into it's lifecycle.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Review
Overall
5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

With its precise gunplay, strategic depth, and vibrant community, CS: GO remains a timeless classic in the world of competitive shooters.

  • Developer: Valve Corporation
  • Publisher: Valve Corporation
  • Release Date: August 21, 2012
  • Platforms: PC
  • Tested On: PC

Pros

  • Tactical Gameplay
  • Excellent Maps
  • Purely Skill Based
  • Active Community
  • Weapon Variety

Cons

  • Hacker Problem
  • Some Unbalanced Maps
  • 64-Tick Servers

In the heart-pounding arena of competitive shooters, one title has maintained its dominance for nearly a decade, drawing players into its immersive battleground with unparalleled intensity. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS: GO for short, stands as a timeless testament to the power of precision and strategy in esports.

With an exceptionally large player base and a constantly evolving competitive landscape, this is more than a game; it’s a battleground where reflexes, tactics, and teamwork collide in a symphony of gunfire.

As we enter a new era of competitive esports with Counter-Strike 2, let’s look back at how CS: GO managed to win over the highly critical fanbase of CS 1.6 and forever etched its name onto the list of most influential games of all time.

Story And Setting

CS: GO Review Story and Setting
Story and Setting. (Image by eXputer)

If you’re expecting an intricate narrative or a richly detailed setting, you may be looking in the wrong place. CS: GO is a game where the story and setting are non-existent, and for good reason.

It is set in a contemporary world that mirrors our own, in which players step into the boots of either counter-terrorists (CTs for short) or terrorists. Each match typically centers around objectives like bomb defusal, hostage rescue, or simply eliminating the opposing team.

Apart from classic game modes like Casual and rank-based 5v5 Competitive, a free-for-all and Team Deathmatch mode is also available for practice. There are also other unconventional modes titled War Games.

This includes Arms Race, where you start with a pistol and gradually progress through the weapon tree, Flying Scotsman, where players fight with Scout sniper rifles in low-gravity conditions, Retakes, which involve retaking or defending a bomb site, and a Demolitions mode, is basically Arms Race mode with an added twist of defending or taking a bomb-site.

CS: GO boasts a roster of iconic maps that have become legendary in the gaming world, like Dust II, Mirage, and Inferno. Each map has its unique challenges and opportunities. Dust II, for example, offers long sightlines and tight chokepoints, favoring precise marksmanship.

On the other hand, Nuke’s multi-tiered layout demands careful coordination and strategic control of vertical space. Learning the nuances of each map is an integral part of mastering CS: GO’s gameplay. Although these maps are expertly designed, some of them can be CT-sided.

 Game Modes and Maps
Game Modes and Maps. (Image Credits: eXputer)

Community-made maps are a vital part of this game. These player-designed maps range from competitive classics to inventive creations, offering diverse gameplay experiences. Popular maps like Dust II and Mirage originated from the community.

They breathe fresh life into the game and can become official content through Valve’s approval. These maps have contributed to CS: GO’s longevity, ensuring players always have new battlegrounds to explore and master.

Want to play a simple hide-and-seek game, or a dungeon-crawler where you journey through insurmountable terrain and battle the literal Devil himself? Well, the community has got you covered.

CS: GO has also received hefty content updates in the form of Operations which are essentially special event periods during which players can access unique content, including new maps, missions, skins, and other rewards. Each Operation typically lasts several months and introduces a variety of gameplay challenges and objectives.

These maps often deviate from the typical CS: GO setting, taking players to diverse locations like a tropical island, an old West town, or an industrial complex. While these settings don’t necessarily contribute to a cohesive narrative, they add much-needed variety to the game’s environment, giving players a break from the traditional urban or industrial landscapes.

CS: GO has also received hefty content updates in the form of Operations which are essentially special event periods during which players can access unique content, including new maps, missions, skins, and other rewards.

Perhaps the most notable addition that comes with these Operations is the addition of new game modes. The most popular ones included Danger Zone, a compact battle royale, and Wingman.

Some of the frequently played maps and game modes, like the aforementioned are then added permanently through a later update. The competitive maps pool is also constantly circulated to allow new maps to breathe and keep the gameplay from becoming stale.

Gameplay

CS: GO Review Gameplay
Gameplay. (Image Captured by eXputer)

The heart of CS: GO’s gameplay lies in its tactical depth. In this game, raw aiming skills can only take you so far; strategy, teamwork, and keeping your nerves under pressure are just as important. Each round is a delicate dance of tactics, as terrorists attempt to carry out their objectives, while counter-terrorists strive to thwart their plans. 

The game offers a wide array of weapons, each with its own characteristics and quirks. Rifles, SMGs, shotguns, sniper rifles, and pistols provide options for various playstyles. Firefights are swift and deadly, with a single headshot often determining the outcome.

This unforgiving nature rewards precise aiming, recoil control, and map knowledge, and provides all the more reason to master the challenging weapon recoil, especially for the rifles, which require hours and hours of practice.

Wise spending and coordination with teammates are crucial, as a team with a strong economy can afford better weapons and gear, giving them a significant advantage.

It has spawned a number of aim-practice community-made which can be customized with different settings. The reliance on skill over luck creates a level playing field where the better team consistently emerges victorious.

The in-game economy adds an extra layer of strategy to the gameplay. Players must manage buying weapons and equipment at the start of each round, and wise spending and coordination with teammates are crucial, as a team with a strong economy can afford better weapons and gear, giving them a significant advantage.

The importance of managing cash is emphasized by the hundreds of guides available online solely dedicated to maintaining the best in-game.

In-Game Economy
In-Game Economy. (Image Credits: eXputer)

CS: GO’s competitive gameplay has led to the growth of a thriving esports ecosystem. The game’s intricate strategies and nail-biting matches have captured the hearts of both players and spectators.

And what makes the competitive scene remarkable is its accessibility. While the skill ceiling is incredibly high, the game’s basics are easy to grasp. This accessibility has allowed CS: GO to maintain a dedicated player base and attract new enthusiasts, ensuring the longevity of its competitive scene.

But, even after a decade, the game still has a major problem of cheaters who employ various unfair advantages like aimbots and wallhacks. This issue is prevalent and disrupts the gaming experience, particularly in competitive play, where the presence of cheaters undermines trust in professional esports.

Visuals And Performance

CS: GO Review Visuals
Visuals. (Image by eXputer)

CS: GO offers decent visuals that managed to stand the test of time. Its maps are masterfully designed, offering a diverse range of environments, from dusty deserts to industrial warehouses. Each map has its unique visual identity, which not only adds variety to the gameplay but also encourages strategic diversity.

For example, a map like Dust II, with its sandy terrain and Middle Eastern architecture, stands in stark contrast to the grim, urban backdrop of Nuke. These variations not only make for exciting gameplay but also cater to different player preferences.

Weapon models are highly detailed, showcasing realistic textures and animations. The attention to detail in weapon design is particularly impressive, as players can inspect their firearms and skins in exquisite detail.

The character models are simple but effective, allowing players to distinguish between teams easily. However, CS: GO does offer character skins and customization options for players looking to personalize their experience. You can also buy music kits that come with an MVP anthem to assert your dominance after a good round.

AK-47 "Fronstside Misty" Skin
AK-47 “Fronstside Misty” Skin. (Image by eXputer)

Furthermore, CS: GO’s visual cues and sound design make it easy for viewers to follow the action. Iconic sound effects, like the bomb timer ticking down or the distinct gunfire sounds of different weapons, help build tension and excitement during broadcasts.

These audiovisual elements, coupled with the top-tier gameplay, contribute to its status as an esports giant.

Valve’s game engine, Source, is well-known for its efficiency, and it’s evident in the game’s consistent and reliable performance.

Perhaps one of the game’s most remarkable achievements is its exceptional optimization. The game can run smoothly, delivering consistent framerates, on a wide range of hardware configurations, from high-end gaming PCs to budget laptops.

This is crucial for a competitive shooter, where split-second reactions can be the difference between victory and defeat. The game engine, Source, is well-known for its efficiency, and it’s evident in the game’s consistent and reliable performance.

Despite the consistent performance, the 64-tick server issue in CS: GO has long been a concern for competitive players. These servers refresh game information 64 times per second, which can result in less responsive hit registration and a less accurate representation of a player’s actions.

However, platforms like FACEIT have addressed this problem by offering servers with a higher tick rate, typically 128 or 144. This upgrade significantly improves hit registration and the overall fluidity of the game, making it a preferred choice for many serious players. 

Verdict

CS: GO Review Verdict
Verdict. (Image Captured by eXputer)

With its precise gunplay, strategic depth, and vibrant community, CS: GO remains a timeless classic in the world of competitive shooters. It continues to captivate players worldwide even in 2024.

Despite some ongoing challenges like hacker issues, it delivers an adrenaline-pumping experience that rewards skill and teamwork. Its combination of tactical gameplay and esports prowess makes it an enduring masterpiece in the gaming landscape.

This has been our CS: GO review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles. 

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Asad Ahmad is a Games Reviewer on eXputer who’s combined his passion for writing and gaming into a sweet blend of content for his audience to enjoy. He started off his gaming journey in the RTS genre but settled on RPGs like Skyrim as his go-to games. Asad has a substantial amount of writing experience in reviewing and writing for games, which is backed up by his extensive gaming library on Steam. Experience: 2+ Years || Mainly covers Game Reviews || Education: Bachelors in Electrical Engineering.

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