The return of “Counter Strike” with CS:GO gives me occasion to wax poetic about this classic franchise’s virtues, and perhaps impart some much-needed wisdom to the current shooter market. Yes, ol’ CS is the Clint Eastwood of the gaming world: a grizzled vet who can still teach the kids a thing or two. Let’s dive into five valuable lessons the success of CS:GO could teach modern FPSes.
1. Be Yourself. These days, every fancy-boy first person shooter has to have a Horde mode, or perks and kill streaks, maybe a half-hearted cover system, and whatever the hell else. The market is governed by fear, with all the big names diving on one another and ripping each other off. That’s why CS:GO’s stubborn refusal to adopt so much as iron sights is so refreshing. Valve and Hidden Path chose an almost curmudgeonly attitude towards modern shooters. They know what CS is, and they believe in the fundamental strength of its design. I wish more studios acted like that.
2. Don’t Rip Your Customers Off. CS:GO is priced exactly as it should be. It actually costs a fair amount of money. And they’re not dumping a new one on you every year with only nominal updates. Innovative it may not be, but it costs less than your average haircut, and I guarantee you its multiplayer can go hour for hour with any “Call of Duty” game. There are hundreds upon hundreds of hours inside this thing, especially once people start going nuts with the SDK.
3. Emphasize Tactics, Not Twitching. The first time I walked up behind a guy and shot him in the back, then he turned around and killed me with one pull of his trigger, I thought it was a fluke; the tenth time, I began to sense I was missing something. My problem was tactics: a decade of other shooting games had taught me to be the first guy to fire, never mind where or with what. CS:GO, like its brothers before it, will not have this. You must fire precisely, dodge effectively, and work with your team. These principles are not only more rewarding to master, they’re more applicable in real life. As is so often the case with Valve software, the end result is better gameplay and a more enriching life experience.
4. Give Us the Levels We Love (And Not in DLC). I wish, I so wish, that “Halo” could learn this one. You don’t even have to ask Valve/Hidden Path if de_dust is back this time, of course it is. They know what you need, baby, and they’re here for you. Bungie’s insistence on creating brilliant levels and then discarding them is a source of constant agitation for me. I want Blood Gulch, damn it. I don’t want some weird re-do where everything is changed around and it’s been re-named something stupid like “Coagulation,” I just want Blood Gulch, the map I know and love. Give it to me and stop being a douche about this.
5. Screw The Casual Market. Picking up “Counter Strike” for the first time is like pledging a fraternity: you just have to take your licks for a while. That’s a part of gaming that is quickly evaporating as the ceaseless march of “Angry Birds” and “Wii Tennis” overwhelms us. Soon, we’ll all be stuck with “Mario Party 26,” where the guy in last place gets a star for being in last place. Savor games like this while they last, cause someday you’re going to be a grumpy old man/woman complaining about how in your day, you had to practice to get good at a game…
gimme that naked new skin rush