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Counter-Strike


Originally released almost 3 years ago, Counter-Strike started out as a mod of another PC hit, Half-Life. The Counter-Strike mod added a new depth of play to the already good engine that HL offered; that extra depth came in form of more team based play, namely terrorists vs. counter-terrorists. This team based FPS has finally made its way to the Xbox, but does it deliver enough to take over your Live connection?

Gameplay:
For those who have been living under a rock for since 2001, hereís the rundown on Counter-Strike. You choose (or let the CPU choose for you) to be either a terrorist or a counter-terrorist. Depending on the team you choose and the map you play on, your role in the game changes. On demolition maps, the role of the terrorist is to destroy, via a bomb planted in a certain area of the map; on the hostage map, your role will to defend the hostages you have taken. Conversely, the roles change for the counter-terrorists, disarm a planted bomb, or rescue the hostages, a simple concept.

If you donít have an Xbox Live account donít even think of getting this game. The single player portion leaves a gaping hole where the fun factor should be. Itís essentially you against some bots playing on a multiplayer map that is much better suited to actual multiplayer play. Itís boring, repetitive and only held my attention for a few minutes as a single player game. And get this, there is NO MULTIPLAYER offline. So even if you own this and have a couple friends over, the only way to get your multiplayer fix is on Live.

Online however, you see the true nature of the game and it starts to be played the way it was meant to be played. Matches are played with up to sixteen players distributed amongst both teams, and teamwork is important here. You will want to turn on your voice, as teammates will let you know when areas are clear or when theyíve been shot and can tell you where the enemy was. This teamwork is slightly reminiscent of Ghost Reconís online play, except here there are no re-spawns, once you are shot itís lights out.

At the start of each match, you are allotted a lump of cash, which is used to purchase weapons, armor, and even riot shields. This amount is limited, but with each kill you (or your team) tallies, your available balance increases letting you purchase stronger and heavier weaponry. Keep in mind that each match is made up of multiple rounds, and with each round you will need to re-purchase equipment if you are killed in combat, so you could be the only guy out there stalking people with a knife if you spend foolishly.

Graphics:
Itís a port of a modified PC game that was originally released in 1998 with some minor graphical upgrades, so you wonít see anything too flashy here, just some minor tweaks. For players who have spent a good portion of their lives playing Counter-Strike on the PC, you will be pleased to notice some changes in the existing maps, and also will get some pleasure out of the exclusive Xbox maps.

The animation is actually quite well done, considering the age of the product. As an added bonus, you get to watch the rest of the match from either a 3rd or 1st person perspective after you die. In this mode you are able to watch some of the animation of the characters without worrying about a grenade being launched in your direction, so you can appreciate the finer touches like reload and death animations.

Audio:
Counter-Strike sounds as you would imagine any other FPS of this type to sound. Some nice touches were added to help immerse the player in the game a little more, such as the sound dropping out and fading back in when you were in the vicinity of a grenade which went off.

Similar to a lot of recent Xbox games, the programmers really take advantage of the surround sound capabilities of the system here. You will be able to tell if there is a firefight in your general area, and even will be able to pinpoint the direction the fire comes from.

Conclusion:
Without a Live connection, owning this game would only frustrate you and would be a waste of your hard earned money. However, those who have yet to feel the thrill of multiplayer madness might do well to grab Counter-Strike to sustain their death match desires until Halo 2 comes out and takes over the Xbox world.