Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | Nov. 28th 2003

If you have ever played a PC game online, you have heard someone talk about Counter-Strike. This now legendary Half Life mod has now moved past the PC and has landed on the Xbox.

The Game
Counter-Strike for the Xbox leaves nothing untouched from its PC origin, and adds very little to the Xbox port. For the loyal fans of the game this is great, they get their solid shooter online via Xbox Live. And newcomers will finally get a glace on what the PC world has been raving about all these years.

I was excited about the premise of this game on the Xbox given Counter-Strikes history of great gaming. I’m sorry to say that they didn’t build a new engine, the old Half-Life engine is still the foundation for the game. I think if they could have waited and used Half-Life 2 engine we would have something really spectacular, but maybe that is in their future. Besides the old graphics engine, the other flaw I found the lack of a single player experience. There is a single player mode, but this it is just multi-player with bots. Too bad they didn’t give us a story and a good single player experience to go along with its main attraction Xbox Live.

The story behind Counter-Strike is online gaming where you take the side of the terrorists or the anti-terrorists and go head to head. The terrorist organizations goals are to keep hostages or to plant bombs in specific locations. The Counter-Terrorists job is to prevent the terrorists from planting the bombs and rescuing the captives. You can play on either side, and the only major changes are their objectives. Depending on your playing style you will find you like being the aggressor or defending, this will sway the group you align with in the different modes. The bot AI in Counter-Strike is pretty weak, needless to say you will want to play online with other people rather than computer controlled bots.

A concept original to Counter-Strike is the money system where you earn cash by defeating the enemy. The money you are rewarded with goes towards purchasing weapons at the beginning of each round. It’s important to always purchase ammo and armor as well as another gun besides you basic pistol. There are many different groups of guns to purchase, along with an assortment of grandees.

Counter-Strike is a basically an upgraded PC port for Xbox Live subscribers. There is nothing to merit this game besides its online gaming. Do not place high expectations on Counter-Strike, and make sure you try out other similar online games before making a purchasing decision. Counter-Strike isn’t a bad experience, rather as an old shoe with new laces.

Graphics & Sound
The first thing you will notice about Counter-Strike is the below par graphics. After four years graphical developments have improved greatly from the "Half-Life" days. It’s upsetting that they didn’t improve the graphics for the Xbox revival of the game. I mentioned earlier that they could have waited and used the Half-Life 2 engine, or they could have licensed a new engine for this purpose and future games. With the poor graphics compared to today’s standards it makes the game harder to get involved with when we are spoiled with games like Halo and Otogi.

Since sound hasn’t noticeably jumped in progression like graphics in games, the sound in Counter-Strike is adequate. You won’t hear anything special or have the 5.1 utilized to its potential, the sound carries the same premise as most of the game, boosted up port from a four year old PC game.

Counter-Strike as idea was innovative back in the day, when the game was released. Other games have followed the team vs. team objective idea from Counter-Strike and improved it. Counter-Strike gets basic points for being one of the originators of this mode, but can’t hold its own against other new games of similar genres. Innovation mentions would come in the way of the standard Xbox Live world rankings and downloadable contant in the future. Now if you think you’re the best, you can prove it.

If you have read my review of the game, you can probably tell I wasn’t impressed with Counter-Strike for the Xbox. I have played the game in the past on the PC, and I always thought the game was good, but the presentation was poor. With a changing and progressing world of gaming, the mojo can’t get a rise out of Counter-Strike. Although it’s cool to have it as an available option for the Xbox, I’ll probably skip it until Counter-Strike 2.

Counter-Strike should have come out with the launch of Xbox Live, and then I would have supported this PC port until newer games have come out. Sadly, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six 3 are better builds on the Counter-Strike idea. This game is easily accessible to all levels of gamers, but the true experience of Terrorists and Anti-Terrorists is better served up with Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield. Rent it and check it out.

Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 5, Innovation: 4, Mojo: 4. Final: 5

  • Intense Xbox Live multiplayer action. Battle real players throughout the world with Xbox Live, while strategizing and communicating with up to 16 players via the Xbox Live Communicator headset. Select games with equal-caliber opponents, using the unique player-ranking system. Use your Xbox as a customizable, dedicated server to host multiplayer games. Customize a multitude of gameplay options including timing, map type, weapons, number of rounds, etc. With Xbox Live Aware, play a single-player offline game and be notified when you’re invited to join a multiplayer game. Check to see who is the very best via the real-time leader boards.

  • Single-player and multiplayer cooperative play. Play against unique Counter-Strike A.I. opponents (‘bots) that offer a wide-variety of challenging gameplay modes, including multiplayer cooperative game types. Form cooperative teams on Xbox Live or System Link and challenge an all- or partial-A.I. ‘bot team.

  • Exclusive new content and game enhancements. Enjoy 16+ graphically enhanced multiplayer maps and a total of 12 visually improved team characters. Check out the Xbox-exclusive content, including seven exclusive new multiplayer maps, one counter-terrorist team, one terrorist team, and 20 character skin variants. Play the best and most popular classic “Counter-Strike” maps, including community favorite “Dust.”

  • Exclusive visual and audio enhancements. Literally see your character’s vision adjust to changes in lighting with all-new dynamic vision adjustments. Lose your audible senses temporarily you get too close to an explosion.

  • Intense and immersive game experience. Dolby Digital 5.1 in-game sound & HDTV (480p).

  • Real-life weapons and gadgets. Choose from more than 20 real-life weapons, including shotguns, sniper rifles, pistols, and other military artillery. Newcomers to the franchise, learn the nuances of the award-winning gameplay through an in-game tutorial training system. Experience Counter-Strike gamers, play at your own pace and master it in no time. Downloadable content. Keep an eye out for new maps are planned for download on Xbox Live.

Counter Strike
Nov 2003