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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Counter-Strike: One step forward two steps back

Valve’s new project launched with high expectations
Eddie Shi
From the logo to gameplay, the modern finish makes an old game play brand new. The minimalistic user interface is also an excellent touch up. However, with the lag and server overload, the game feels janky. So much so that a few cool skins and shadows aren’t enough to hide Valve’s failures at launch.

“CS:GO,” developed by Valve Corporation and Hidden Path Entertainment, was first released in 2012. Despite being over a decade old, the game remains a dominant force in the world of competitive gaming. However, Valve made an update that overhauled the entire game, rebranding it to “Counter-Strike 2 (CS2).”

The new counter strike has stellar graphics; the raytraced maps looked phenomenal. In the graphical department, it is a complete improvement. For example, the texture and geometry of the maps make the game feel much brighter. The graphics can be compared to newer “Call of Duty” titles. It’s not just the maps that got a reskin. The weapon skins look breathtaking. The detail and color are magnified tenfold. There should not be any debate on how good the new weapon skins are.

Yet, the maps, while being an upgrade, are not perfect. The enhanced maps feel different and will take some time to adjust to. Compared with the more bleak maps in “CS:GO,” the newer maps feel less realistic. People have criticized the maps for being brighter and not true to the old “Counter-Strike.” I completely disagree with this criticism because Counter-Strike is not meant to be a meaningful story with heavy immersion. Most of the 49 million players play this game casually, therefore, making the map more realistic than making the map look more pleasant only appeals to a very small niche.

A non-niche that is not present in “CS2” is the beloved game modes: Arms Race and Flying Scoutsman. Arms Race is a twist on the classic Team Deathmatch format. In this game mode, players are divided into two teams, and the goal is to work their way through a series of weapon tiers. With each kill, your weapon is automatically upgraded to the next in line, making for a dynamic and challenging experience. Flying Scoutsman is another casual game mode in which no-scope accuracy is increased and low gravity is activated. The two beloved game modes are not present as of current. However, I’m sure they will be included with time.

The most important part of “CS:GO” is the gunplay. “CS2” does honor the same system mechanics as the original. However, it fails to preserve the integrity of the original game. Sometimes shots that line up never hit and some shots that shouldn’t hit connect. The game lags and spikes all the time. There are times I get shot and I don’t even see the guy peek until after I die. Replays are unavailable so I can’t even verify that I’m not crazy.

For competitive players, the game is a nightmare. The connections are spotty since it doesn’t matter if you have a good internet connection, the ones that have worse connections will drag you down with them. The servers in the New York region in the Northeast are constantly down, forcing the players in the area to play on servers with higher ping.

The movement feels the same. Yet, my positioning shots feel off. It’s a bit of an adjustment since my muscle memory has become so accustomed to “CS:GO” with my hundreds of hours on the game. It’s unfair for me to criticize this as I need to adjust like many players. However, a reskin of a game should not require this, so it depends on who you ask if the adjustment is a negative or just part of a game’s natural progression.

I think the new grenades, incendiaries, smokes, flashes and decoys are great. The interactions with the smokes are very innovative and fun. Blowing away smoke cover with a frag or shooting through the smoke with a shotgun must have taken a long time to design. I think the new additions are healthy in creating a higher-skill ceiling with utility. I see more and more people using utility in weaker groups which is always a good thing.

There didn’t have to be a forced overhaul. I wish Valve would have done the same thing they did with “Counter Strike Source,” “CS:GO’s” predecessor, in which they created “CS:GO” as a new game and not an update. There is no way to play “CS:GO” unless you download the demo viewer. The official matchmaking servers are no longer available to play. However, workshop maps are still available. If Valve made CS2 its own game, everything negative would be avoided as players could choose which game to play.

Workshops and community maps are not available as of now. Workshop maps and community servers were the most fun things for casual players to do. Surfing, hide and seek and many more fun modes were found in the vast library of community maps. I’m sure they will come eventually, but for now, there are no modes that completely change the dynamics of the game.

There is a new ranked mode as well. In “CS2” there is a recently developed competitive mode called Premier. This shiny new mode displays your rank as a number and not a skill tier. Win 10 matches and you will receive a number. The number corresponds to your position in the global leaderboard. I have not been ranked, but I do enjoy this new mode. The old competitive mode is still available as well, but it has been a big buggy for me. It showed me I had one match won after I had won five.

Overall, “CS2” has felt off. The game is in its growing stages so it’s important not to overreact. Many features have not been implemented, the gunplay feels slightly off and there is a new skill ceiling for grenade lineups. The current game is not as great as the polished “CS:GO.” For now, I give the game a ⅗ rating.

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About the Contributor
Eddie Shi
Eddie Shi, Staff Reporter
Eddie is a senior at Millard West starting his third year on the CATalyst staff. He enjoys analyzing and reviewing new technology. He also enjoys writing reviews for games and albums. Eddie enjoys traveling to many different areas worldwide to experience brand-new cultures. He is the Millard West tennis team captain. Eddie looks forward to writing for the CATalyst newspaper.

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