Counter-strike : Global Offensive (CS:GO) is an online first-person shooter that is the latest installation from the Counterstrike franchise. It is a team-based, objective-based multiplayer game. Each player joins either the Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist team and attempts to complete objectives or eliminate the enemy team. There are many different game modes that revolve around this theme, but the main one we will take reference from will be Classic Competitive. Each team will have 5 players, and it will least a maximum of 30 rounds. At the start of each round, players purchase weapons and gear with money earned from various actions, from getting kills to completing objectives. Objectives differ depending on the map, one requires the Counter-Terrorist to extract hostages, and the other requiring the Terrorist to detonate a bomb. For both types, a round ends when the objective is complete, the time has expired before the objective was met, or a whole team is eliminated.
Game website : http://blog.counter-strike.net/
Gameplay example : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KslmylFCWLc
The first lens I will be using to analyse CS:GO is (7) The Elemental Tetrad, which comprises of Aesthetics, Technology, Mechanics and Story. The Aesthetics of the game has definitely improved leaps and bounds since the last one, and it definitely looks, sounds and feels more immersive, especially with much more attention paid to details. An example would be like the inclusion of a helicopter for the Counter-Terrorist team’s insertion into the mission location, which previous would just spawn the players at a location. These tiny additions make the game feel much fuller. Technology would be quite straightforward, because the basic keyboard and mouse can be used, with even the possibility of playing with a game controller. As for Mechanics, it follows basic FPS conventions, and yet it has the “buying” component that opens that dimension of strategizing how to work in a team to spend money most optimally to ensure a win. As for Story, there is no overarching story, but rather each match is a small narrative of a battle between Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists. It would have been more interesting if there was an embedded storyline, somewhat like a previous installation Condition Zero. Looking at CS:GO in an overview, we can see that it has all elements in it, and these elements work together to build and reinforce the game’s theme. The story is better brought out thanks to the improved aesthetics, and these makes the game more immersive into the mechanics put in place for players.
The next lens I will be using is (25) Goals. Looking at the goals within CS:GO, it can be said that they are appropriate and well-balanced. The simplest would be having a common goal for all players – the elimination of the other team. On top of that, there is also your team specific goal, which is either to plant/prevent the planting of a bomb, or to rescue/prevent the rescue of hostages. These are actually all there is to CS:GO’s Classic Competitive mode, which are simple to understand and grasp. Yet, one small issue is that this is not clearly spelt out to players at the beginning of the match; rather it is explained through the tutorial game, which players might miss out (because it is not mandatory). But other than that, players can still communicate with their teammates, so there are other possibilities for them to find out about their goals.
The next lens is (36) Competition, which appeals to our competitive nature. For this there is the ranking system, which ranks players according to their game stats, promoting or demoting them accordingly. This ranking system spurs players to want to win and climb up the ranks. And these ranks are also used to match-make players of similar ranks to play against one another, so as to provide an environment of fair competition where players of different skill levels can compete. This is a robust system as it also does not give new players any advantage over more expert players, rather it just puts all the new players into the same game, instead of making it harder for expert players to kill new players. However, accurate as it may be, latency, hardware differences and hacking can still cause “unfair” measurements of player skill, damaging the game’s mechanics to create fair competition.
(A list of the ranks available in Classic Competitive)
Another lens I will be using is (37) Cooperation, since it is an essential aspect of CS:GO. There is currently text and voice chat available, and also some fixed commands players can issue, but communications could further be improved if these fixed commands could be freely configurable by players to set custom controls for them. As for working together as a team, this can consists of friends and/or strangers, and there is a short warm-up time before each match, thus giving a team of strangers to warm-up and learn about one another’s playing style or exchange strategies. With regards to synergy or antergy, it really depends on how the team plays together. For example, having teammates to watch your back and cover you is synergy, but having teammates friendly fire you is antergy. As for roles within the game, there are no designated roles, but these can be set internally. For example, a team of 5 snipers would definitely be unwise, so players would have to communicate to assign roles for carrying different weapons, like sniper rifles, assault rifles, sub-machine gun, etc. Another way to designate roles would be in a Bomb Defusal game, where the Counter-Terrorist team splits up to guard different bomb sites.
Lastly, the final lens is (75) Avatar. Looking at the avatars used in its predecessors, CS:GO has done a really good job in creating multiple avatars, not only a set for Terrorists and a set for Counter-Terrorists, but even different avatars for of these characters in different settings. For example, one map is at a sugar plantation factory, and the Terrorists avatars are specifically fitting for the setting, as they are African men, who are shown to be locals. Even the hands holding the weapon by players in the first-person view shows a gold chain around the terrorist’s wrist. On top of that, there is even voice-acting in an African accent, saying things like “we will chase them off this island”. All these adds to the immersion of players into taking on the identity of the avatar and really play as a terrorist.