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Counter-Strike Xbox

Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Ritual Entertainment
Released: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Perhaps the most successful PC online action game of all time Counter-Strike, has arrived on Xbox. What began life as an online mod for Half-Life has become unbelievably popular since it's first release and has gone from a free unofficial mod status to a full retail product. With Xbox Live being an excellent online system, Counter-Strike looks like being the ideal game to play on Live.

I assume most of you will already know what the game is about but I'll give a brief explanation. Basically the game consists of two teams, the terrorists and the counter-terrorists. The game has two modes, one is a demolition game where the terrorists plant the bomb and the counter-terrorists have to diffuse the bomb within 45 seconds. The second game type is a hostage rescue where you have the terrorists trying to prevent the counter-terrorists from rescuing the hostages and taking them to the extraction point. The games only last a few minutes but the action is intense and the excitement never ceases. In many ways it's a simple game to learn yet it requires a lot of skill to be good at the game and this is why it's become so popular.

The Xbox version is identical to the PC game except for the fact that the game has received a graphical facelift. The game doesn't look as good as Halo or some of the other FPS games designed exclusively for Xbox but it does look better than the PC version of Counter-Strike and it's not too far behind most of the Xbox FPS games. Counter-Strike includes 18 maps in total, 7 of which are brand new ones. There is also the promise of further maps being available as downloadable content which would certainly be most welcome.

One plus of this Xbox version though is the ability to play offline games with AI bots. You can have AI bots at either beginner, standard, expert and professional difficulty levels. Best of all though is that the bots are actually very impressive and should give experienced PC Counter-Strike players a challenge. You can also play online against the bots but it has to be a human vs bots game and no human and bots mixtures are allowed. The game comes with two basic tutorials on hostage rescue and demolitions but they are very brief and very basic. It would have been great if some techniques had actually been taught as the tutorials don't really prepare you for the fierce competition you'll experience online.

When it comes down to how deaf gamer friendly Counter-Strike is, it gets a little tricky. Playing offline isn't too much of a problem. You can use the directional pad to issue orders to your team (or indeed they will issue orders to you) and these orders are shown in text. If you are behind a companion and he spots an enemy then an exclamation mark will appear above his head to caution you. The only problem comes in the demolition games when playing as the counter-terrorists. You are told in text when the bomb has been planted but where a hearing gamer can hear the beeps coming from the bomb (and as a result can use their hearing to locate the bomb) a deaf gamer obviously can't. With the bomb only having two possible locations though this isn't as big a problem as it might be, as long as you are familiar with the map you are playing on. Online though it's a different story as if you play with hearing gamers they will use voice communication and the games ends up being impossible. However if you decide to have deaf gamers only matches, or online games against bots then it won't be a problem.

Counter-Strike has definitely made a successful translation to Xbox. The controls are spot on and if you like how other FPS games, Rainbow Six 3, Halo etc. feel on the Xbox then you'll be happy with Counter-Strike. Some may be disappointed that the Xbox version is a little too similar to the free PC version and this is a fair point and it would have been great if some exclusive extras had been included (other than the AI bots). It's not completely deaf gamer friendly either and whilst the offline play is good it's not going to remain interesting if you can't effectively play online.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Counter-Strike is a faithful conversion of the PC game with the ability to play offline games with the AI bots or online games against them.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Counter-Strike is not completely deaf gamer friendly and as such, can only be recommended to those who are very interested in the game. Online games only require two players though (although at least 3 vs. 3 is recommended) so with two friends you could play games against 3 bots.