Counter-Strike – XB – Preview

The streets play out like a maze, but the target dances on the
radar, ever closer.

The radio crackles, enemy in sight, followed by a burst of
gunfire. The battle is engaged.

Counter-Strike is an Xbox and Xbox Live! exclusive from
Microsoft Game Studios, Valve and Relic. It is a taut, tactical combat
simulation that can go from slow, easy stealth-like movement to the chaos of a
street battle in the blink of an eye.

From demolition work, or disarming explosives, to hostage
rescue, Counter-Strike allows players to take on the roles of either the
counter-terrorist team, or the terrorists themselves. This will play out
particularly well in multiplayer gaming.

However, GameZone.com received a limited single-player beta, but
nonetheless donned a kevlar vest, picked up a rifle and headed into the hot
zone.

A couple of things immediately stood out. Even in a
single-person game, you are part of a team. Other members are basically bots but
the directional pad will send basic commands to them. The AI is sharp enough to
allow them to function independently, and they will report in, and engage the
enemy without waiting for your orders on either count.

You begin, of course, by taking the tutorial, which is a
non-combative walkthrough of the game basics. There are two types of missions,
hostage and demolition. The command interface is relatively simple and you can
get into the game without much work to learn the system. However, learning to
play and playing is a different proposition.

In the preview version, there are three scenarios, Dust (a
demolition), Italy (hostage rescue) and Vostok (another demolition). In the
single-person game, there are three difficulty levels – beginner, standard and
professional.

The nice thing is you can play from the side of the
counter-terrorists or the terrorists. Each has different mission objectives,
with each detailed during the briefings. Once into the scenario, the game moves
quickly. Targets can pop up at almost any time and the odds against you can
mount quickly.

If you are successful in a mission, you will receive money,
which can then be used to buy more and/or better equipment.

The game’s sound is very good. With a driving musical
underscore, and the ambient noises one would expect from such a game.

Graphically this game is still in a beta mode, and there were
some minor problems, but the environments are very well done and the effects,
such as powerful explosives going off, were exceptional. This game has a very
good overall look, and is certain to drive gamers adrenalin.

This is a solid looking game with strong combat features. This
is a game that has huge potential for exciting multiplayer gaming. And the
single-player game is pretty sweet, too. If you are a fan of tactical team-based
combat, this is a game you will want to check out.