5 Reasons Why You Should Play Critical Ops

This Android FPS is fun and evolving.

 Critical Ops is a first-person shooter that you have to play. Available worldwide on Google Play in a form that can be best described as a fully playable game but one that is far from finished, this is a remarkably fun title that has started to suck up a lot of my free time and time I spend streaming games. Wonder why you should play it? Here's why.

01
of 05

It's the next best thing to Counter-Strike on mobile

Critical Ops Weapon Skin
A special weapon skin in Critical Ops. Critical Force Entertainment

The game's inspiration is obvious: it's Counter-Strike. You get one life in the Defuse mode that was the heart of the game before team deathmatch was released, and can spend money you get on weapons, having to rebuy your weapons and equipment if you die. So, you can go big on better weapons and specialized equipment, risking it all if you die and potentially costing you your great loadout and potentially leaving you weaker the next round. Then, you and your team, either terrorists trying to kill all the counter-terrorists or plant a bomb, or the counter-terrorists trying to defuse the bomb or wipe out all the terrorists, go at it, in short, sub-2-minute rounds that are first to 13 wins. The game is intense because one mistake will cost you and your team. Plus, the C4 you have to plant as the terrorists can be used for and against you – the enemy can see where it is, but it can be dropped and used to trap the counter-terrorists if they're not careful.  

It's a very familiar formula, but a proven one that's still fun. And there's not a lot of games on mobile mimicking the experience in the way Critical Ops does. We'll ignore the Counter-Strike 1.6 unofficial port.

02
of 05

It's a rough work-in-progress but fun

Critical Ops Daily Missions
Showing the recently-added daily missions in Critical Ops. Critical Force Entertainment

Critical Ops is really more in an open beta state than something that is actually released right now, though the public can get it on Facebook and Android, and the game is available in some countries on iOS. It's definitely in a rough state right now. Defuse was the only game mode until the late-May-2016 addition of team deathmatch. That, and there are only 4 maps to play. The interface is still undergoing tweaks, though that late-May 5.0 update dramatically improved the game. But there's still rough patches that feel short of a major-budget first-person shooter.

But knowing that this is unfinished makes it kind of endearing. The core game itself simulates the Counter-Strike experience quite well. The fact is that you can get a similar experience to a well-known classic, and you can play it literally wherever. And it is actually built for touch controls; the auto aim helps out a lot. You have to be good and careful with touch controls, but the game does a satisfactory job at making up for touchscreen inaccuracies.

What I've found in my time writing and streaming mobile games is that mobile gaming enthusiasts have a soft spot in their hearts for mobile games that are flawed but ambitious. They'll tolerate games that are like their big console and desktop counterparts because they want those experiences, just not tied to a console or computer. Sometimes, they don't even have a computer to play them on. And to be clear, the developers that are making these games often don't have the resources that big-name companies do. For example, another multiplayer first-person shooter, Bullet Force, is made by a high school student. And while gamers get flak for being angry and irrational, they're rather understanding of developers that are ambitious on mobile.

03
of 05

It's not pay-to-win

Critical Ops Weapon Menu
Showing off weapons and skins in Critical Ops. Critical Force Entertainment

I don't like the designation of pay-to-win, necessarily, but I respect that people don't care for games that allow players to get anything different, even better, by paying. Not so with Critical Ops. Everyone gets the same loadout, and can't change the weapon selection they have. That's the thing: the only 'advantage' you can get is different weapon skins. They don't have any effect on weapons, all they do is impact how your gun looks. You can't pay to get better weapons or to unlock weapons sooner. It's all customization.

This is a business model that works well for Team Fortress 2, but we'll see if it works for a mobile game. Regardless, it's something that the hardcore players who would enjoy this kind of game will prefer. At the heart of it, it's based on skill, but the dedicated enthusiasts can still show off to others.

04
of 05

It's cross-platform but also not

Critical Ops Golden Bull
The golden bull in one of Critical Ops' levels. Critical Force Entertainment

The cool thing about Critical Ops is that you can play it against other Android players, iOS players, and even PC players on Facebook. It all works with no issue whatsoever. And your account transfers between devices using Facebook login, so your stats and skins carry from game to game. You can play this wherever you so desire to play it. The problem is that you might not want to play against PC players because they have keyboard and mouse to use against you. Thankfully, you can filter out cross-platform games, though it's hard to tell who's on what platforms. Shadowgun: DeadZone is a game with similar cross-platform multiplayer, and players complain about PC players having the advantage. You can ensure you're on an equal playing field if you prefer that.

05
of 05

It's explicitly built for mobile multiplayer.

Critical Ops Shootout
Spectating a shootout in Critical Ops. Critical Force Entertainment

You can easily jump in and out of games without a penalty, and matches always have fluid team populations. It's not ideal, but people play mobile games in not-always-ideal conditions. So the game is wise to not punish people for having to leave. Rounds in the current game mode are quick, though matches are lengthy. Still, there's that expectation that games are going to be fluid and people have reason to bail. The game doesn't really provide much in the way of rewards for winning or sticking around, but right now it works in a sense that people stick around because they want to. Or they leave because they have something else to do. Games are fluid, and that's a good thing here.