Counter-Strike 2 PC Review

Slapping a new name on something old doesn’t make it better than it was.

By R3GR3T, Posted 12 Oct 2023

Everybody knows Valve Corporation (Or just Valve), run by the one and only Gabe Newell. Valve’s biggest claim to fame is not just for the games they released but also for their supremely gigantic launcher/game library, good ol’ Steam. However, Steam might be  big, but it’s not what threw Valve to the top of the ranks and catapulted Gabe Newell to the status of nearly being worshipped by fans. Their epic rise came from the games they developed, like Half-Life in 1998, Half-Life 2 in 2004, and let’s not forget Team Fortress 2 in 2007.

Counter-Strike 2, Review, Screenshots, First-Person, Shooter, Action, NoobFeed

However, Valve has another huge claim to fame, Counter-Strike. Which started as Counter-Strike 1.6 (DE_RATS Players will know this one), which then evolved into Counter-Strike Source, and eventually Counter-Strike: Global Offensive… Or CS:GO for short. Now, this is where things become interesting with regards to CS:GO; since it was hugely popular among gamers from all walks of life, Valve decided to give it a slight facelift and rebrand it to Counter-Strike 2. Yes, that’s right, it got the Overwatch treatment.

So, Counter-Strike 2 is essentially still the same CS:GO that almost everybody knows about, but with a different name now and possibly even more ‘griefing’. For those who don’t know it, Counter-Strike 2 is a massive online multiplayer game where you’ll need some good teamwork or basic strategy to earn that victory against your opponents. Granted, it’s not your everyday run-and-gun title; there’s a lot more to see than just that after all.

Before you can turn your opponents into Swiss Cheese after taking the plunge into Counter-Strike 2, you’ll need to put up with the lengthy slog that is the ‘tutorial’. The tutorial is technically a very short introduction, but it becomes a tedious nightmare if you’re a fast learner or you’ve played before, and you can’t skip it… At all. So, you’ll need to play through 12 matches of Bomb Scenario with Bots while switching teams halfway through. Luckily, this is incredibly easy, and matches can go by in as little as 2 minutes. Once that’s finally over with, you’re ready to jump into your next roadblock; you’ll have to play in whatever matches you can to play simple matches to unlock some of the other modes like competitive and ranked.

Counter-Strike 2, Review, Screenshots, First-Person, Shooter, Action, NoobFeed

Counter-Strike 2 offers nothing too crazy like Capture The Flag or custom game mutators like Low Gravity mode. Instead, you’ll have a choice between Free For All Deathmatch and Bomb Scenario, with the odd extra if you create a custom match. Starting with what made Counter-Strike so famous – the Bomb Scenario. This mode will put two teams against each other where one team (Terrorists) has to plant a bomb and defend it until the timer is up, and the other team (Counter-Terrorists) has to prevent the Terrorists from planting the bomb or defuse it if it was planted. The victory conditions are pretty simple, making the matches quite short; however, wiping out the opposing team will also net you a victory.

Bomb Scenario does come with a few caveats though. The first one is that the terrorist team will have one person be randomly selected to carry the bomb. If that person gets killed, someone else can pick up the bomb, but it doesn’t mean every random person will be able to carry the bomb to the bomb sites. To carry on, you can’t just plant the bomb anywhere; you’ll need to plant it in one of two designated bomb sites, then defend that site. Counter-Terrorists have it a little harder, though; their main job is to defuse the bomb, but they have to buy bomb defusal kits. Lastly, between planting and defusing the bomb, it will take some time, and you’ll need your team to defend you while doing it or run the risk of being a sitting duck.

While this seems simple enough, you’ll also need weapons to make that dream work. Luckily, at the start of each round, you’ll be given a warm-up time to use and abuse the Buy Menu to buy weapons, armour, and grenades. However, nothing in life is ever free, and you’ll need money to buy anything. You’ll be given some starting cash at the start of a match to buy some basic weapons, but getting kills in and scoring a victory will get you even more and, in turn, give you access to better weapons. This is all good and lovely, but you’ll need to keep in mind that getting killed will hurt your money and have you starting the next round with basic weapons again.

Counter-Strike 2, Review, Screenshots, First-Person, Shooter, Action, NoobFeed

Bomb Scenario is typically done with teams of 5 players, but Counter-Strike 2 does bring an interesting twist to the mix in the form of Wingman Mode. It means it’ll be just you and another player going up against two other players in what might be a very heated match. Don’t underestimate Wingman Mode; it might look easier only having to coordinate with just one other person instead of 4 others, but you’ll need to be on the ball if you want to outwit your opponents. Matches in Wingman Mode can be much shorter if you don’t pay attention or cover your partner’s back, but they can also go on for much longer if you take a more strategic approach to your objective.

Now, if teamwork isn’t your thing, you can also just jump into a free for all Deathmatch. There are no teams and no objectives; it’s just killing at its finest for the sake of scoring. This is always great fun if you want to live on the more casual side of life or if you just want to improve your KDA ratio (Kills, Deaths, Assists), though Deathmatch isn’t for everybody. It can be quite fast-paced and unforgiving; spawn camping is also a very real threat – For those who don’t know, spawn camping is when someone waits for you to respawn and gun you down on the spot. Unfortunately, Counter-Strike 2 still doesn’t have randomized spawn locations based on player density for each map. This would lessen or even prevent spawn camp encounters.

This brings us to one of the bigger issues surrounding Counter-Strike 2 and many other games like it, the ever-prevalent and annoying, ‘Griefing’ and microphone warriors. You know them, we all hate them, and yet… There will never be a shortage of people who feel the need to cheat, spam reporting skilled players, and the worst ones of all, kids who feel the need to spam the chat or screech your head off (Rest In Peace Headphone users). Sadly, this will never quite go away unless proper moderation is implemented, but automated moderation responses seem to be preferred in cases like these.

Counter-Strike 2, Review, Screenshots, First-Person, Shooter, Action, NoobFeed

Putting aside that little hurdle in Counter-Strike 2, this might be the slightly less interesting option, but you can also opt for practice matches against bots. However, the bots aren’t particularly smart, and the matches against them are rather easy; it still works as a fun way to blow off some steam. Then, on the other hand, there are a few custom options you can turn on, like Infinite Warmup and Infinite Ammo, for those who don’t like to reload or if you just want to have a little chaotic fun.

To save the best (or worst) for last, Counter-Strike 2 also allows you to customize just about everything. From simple cosmetic changes to weapon skins, you’ll have endless options to get your kills in while looking good doing it. However, unlocking the extra customization options isn’t as easy as changing them. You can earn new skins as a random drop after matches, have a chance at getting them in cases, or you can go down the more expensive route and buy them using real-world money. Now, this should come with the warning that CS:GO had its own little player market for skins, and the same might happen with Counter-Strike 2, where you can buy skins for literal mountains of money. This in itself makes the game a lot less appealing already if you look at everything else as well.

Counter-Strike 2 isn’t just a rebrand from CS:GO; it also got a few visual upgrades to match. The visual side for Counter-Strike 2 does come pretty close to being as realistic as possible. Still, it doesn’t quite hit the mark yet, partially because it would take a very powerful game engine to pull it off, but also because the game is not quite as optimized as it should be. CS:GO already suffered from stuttering due to poor optimization, which was usually never noticed as long as you had the hardware to handle it. Regardless, Counter-Strike 2 will definitely make you wonder if your hardware is up to scratch since an old issue just worsened. On the plus side, the game is visually appealing, and keeping in mind what the overall theme is, there is a brilliant level of detail with the weapons and character models.

Counter-Strike 2, Review, Screenshots, First-Person, Shooter, Action, NoobFeed

Things become a bit more interesting with sound engineering and just how much work went into bringing real gunfire to us; while a good majority of the sound samples you hear are taken from actual scenarios, there are a few that don’t match at all and seem more artificial. Naturally, with a game like Counter-Strike 2, you can’t expect background music or anything like that while you’re in a match because it’s supposed to keep you as immersed as possible in the fight at hand. However, the bits of radio chatter in the background, footsteps, and even the special sound engineering build a great atmosphere and will have you losing more time than you’d like if you’re on a good streak.

Overall, Counter-Strike 2 might have gotten the Overwatch treatment with a rebrand, but there are a few differences to be spotted. With a bigger selection of maps and the extra game modes, things might actually start looking up for this release. However, the lack of moderation and optimization might also be what puts the final nails in this game’s coffin.

Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Valve
Developer(s): Valve
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Action, Competitive
Release Date: 2023-09-27

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