The original Counter-Strike debuted slightly after the Bronze Age; yet despite being long in the tooth, it has remained extremely popular among the online killing crowd. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the game’s latest iteration.
Valve Software (valve software.com) has trod a tightrope with this release. On the one hand, the game needed to remain true to its roots or lose its fans. On the other hand, those same fans were screaming for more content. It appears the company has performed an amazing balancing act. Global Offensive retains the fast-paced, easy-to-learn, largely realistic gunplay of the previous titles, while at the same time boasting new maps and new types of matches.
The latest maps, as well as the original ones, can all be played in either of the game’s two modes. In “defusal” mode the terrorists must plant and protect a bomb, while in “hostage rescue” they must guard their captives from the onslaught of the good guys. The game also features two levels.“Casual,” which is geared toward the less experienced players, eliminates nuisances such as friendly fire and the need to re-equip between levels.“Ranked,” meanwhile, pits the more seasoned gamers against one another.
Counter-Strike remains one of the best online team-based shooters available, and Global Offensive only enhances that position.
Gamers who like turn-based, science-fiction tactical combat will love Hunters 2 (rodeogames. co.uk). Available for both the iPad and the iPhone, the game allows players to control a squad of elite mercenaries in the far future.
The mercenaries in Hunters 2 don a variety of armor that dictates the number of action points they receive. They can use these points to move and attack their enemies with a wide range of weapons – shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, plasma guns, sledgehammers and more. Their targets include enemy mercenaries and unarmed, but lethal, aliens.
There’s a nifty single-player campaign to fight through, and new missions are offered each day. By fighting well, the mercenaries earn experience points, and when they level up, they learn cool new skills. For instance, “massacre” allows the hunters to attack every enemy in sight, while “sadistic” replenishes their health when they kill. Heck, some gamers might want to buy Hunters 2 for the skill names alone!
Just when it seems board wargames will never cover anything but the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the Allied invasion of France, Mark Mokszycki drops something new in our laps: Red Winter (gmtgames.com).
Red Winter re-creates the 1939 battle at Tolvajävi, Finland, and does so at the company level– a scale seldom used in wargaming. Hence, although the game depicts operational-style combat between adjacent units, it also shows ranged combat like that seen in the Lock ’n Load series.
Red Winter is a must-have for Winter War (USSR vs. Finland) aficionados. There are some of those out there, right?
Mark H. Walker is a retired U.S. Navy commander and veteran electronic entertainment/IT journalist who designed the critically acclaimed board wargames “Lock ’n Load” and “World at War.” He has authored or contributed to over 40 books, including his novel “Everyone Dies in the End.”
Originally published in the March 2013 issue of Armchair General.