Counter-Strike Xbox Multiplayer Hands-On

The CSX section of the Microsoft booth.
CSX's control scheme. Courtesy of CSNation.
The pie-shaped buy menu.
The updated version of de_dust prominenty featured in Microsoft's CSX tournament.
With Halo 2 delayed until next year, Counter-Strike is one of this year's top Xbox titles and Microsoft knows it. The Counter-Strike Xbox (CSX) section of the Microsoft booth featured no less than eight gamestations, allowing attendees to get in on some four-on-four Counter-Strike action.

First off, the controls are extremely intuitive and after a minute or so, you'll forget that you're using the Xbox controller instead of a mouse/keyboard combination. If you've ever played HALO, you will feel right at home.

With the controller featuring only a limited amount of keys, Ritual had to rethink one of Counter-Strike's fundamental features: the buy menu. The developers decided to employ a pie-shaped menu that is activated by pressing the left thumbstick. It features the usual weapon categories, which are navigated using the left thumbstick. Primary and secondary ammunition can be bought by pressing the left and right trigger buttons. This approach works extremely well and I'm sure I'm not the only one who would love to see Valve bring this over to the PC version.

Since Ritual doesn't have to worry about making CSX backwards-compatible, the team has incorporated several technology upgrades and enhancements. Among these are dynamic gamma adjustments, which were added to emulate the reactions of the human eye to light and darkness. For example, when stepping from a light into a dark area, it will take a few seconds for your virtual eyes to adjust to the new lighting conditions. This of course makes for a whole set of new tactics, as effectively demonstrated on the redesigned version of de_dust that was also shown at E3.

Redesigned? That's right. CSX will feature about 15 multiplayer maps, about half of which will be original. The maps brought over from Counter-Strike are being adjusted to make them somewhat more horizontal. This doesn't mean that the arenas will be totally flat. The other map shown at E3, a snowy environment set in Northern Russia, featured plenty of stairways and a fair amount of z-axis action. However, since no console controller is as accurate as the trusty keyboard/mouse combination PC gamers are used to, CSX features a slight degree of auto-aiming similar to HALO.

CSX will be playable over Xbox Live as well as System Link (which was used at the show). While the current player limit is 16, Ritual is working on bringing it up to at least 24.

Of course, CSX isn't all about multiplayer. As previously reported, the game will include all of Condition Zero's single player content, along with two exclusive missions and weapons.

From what we've seen at the show, CSX has everything it takes to become the champion of Xbox Live when it ships this Christmas.

Related Links:
Counter-Strike Xbox Screenshots
Counter-Strike Xbox Forum