Counter Strike: Global Offensive – Beta Impressions
The fear in updating classic games such as Counter Strike (1.6 and Source) is that the well honed game mechanics, or even just the “feel” of the game, will be irrevocably changed. Counter Strike 1.6 still has a strong following and is still included in tournaments, and Counter Strike: Source has a massive following on Steam.
As a terrible CS player I have a litmus test for Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which recently opened up Beta testing for pre-orders on Steam. Basically, if I was to start playing and get more than one kill in a round there must be something terribly wrong. My first round was on the modified de_shorttrain map on the new Demolition mode semi-inspired by the custom GunGame maps from previous CS versions. End of round one and I’ve racked up two kills, two rounds later I’ve planted the bomb with a few more kills, and by round 10 I’m on top of my team’s list. Oh dear. This isn’t right at all, in no way should I be good at this game! Demolition mode is a GunGame-type variant where you’re awarded a new gun each round if you get a kill. It allows scrubs such as myself to remain somewhat competitive while still remaining as awful as always with sniper rifles.
The Soup Nazi suddenly becomes generous
Once I hopped on the Classic modes however, the natural order of things quickly snuffed out my doubts. I was quickly and methodically taken apart by every sucker with a AWP, Desert Eagle and flash grenade. Phew.
CS:GO is developed by Valve Software and Hidden Entertainment who said their aim was to make CS more competitive using ideas from CS 1.6 and CS:S, and a focus on 5v5 matches for eSports. The two Classic modes, Casual and Competitive, cater to the traditional CS experience with defuse and hostage missions. You’re given a choice of map groups to play, with one simply named Dust Mission for those de_dust2 fans who’ve been playing the same map for the last five years. Casual turns off friendly fire and collision detection (so there’s no blocking) and awards you extra cash between rounds, while Competitive turns those options on and makes it best out of 30.
Hello my old friend
The revamped maps look great with extra detail and updated textures thanks to the updated Source engine as used in Portal 2, while still feeling familiar to seasoned players. Some have upgrades such as the crates in the de_dust2 tunnels meaning you can no longer hide behind the top crate to snipe away at the Counter Terrorists defending the middle path. For a list of map changes and other specifics from the horse’s mouth go here. De_lake is a new, small map focusing on 5v5 and plays a bit like a paintball field with a central house for Terrorists to bomb, and obstacles littered around to flank each other with. The map feels a bit too small, even for just 10 players as it the bombing area is basically right next to both spawn points.
Weapons have been rebalanced and yes, the AWP is still there to be complained about ad-nausium. A very interesting inclusion is the molotov/incendiary grenade used for locking down areas with fire, adding another element of strategy to the usual grenade spam. A one-shot taser is also available for instant kills.
An issue I’ve had so far is finding matches on the Valve dedicated servers and some dodgy matchmaking that’s dumped me on international servers where I’m stuck on 200-300 ping. Aside from the technical and core gameplay changes there’s a bunch of little things that really lift the experience. Each map uses a unique set of character model skins, roughly tied to their geographical location, with different accents for the in game voice commands. It’s superficial, but it at least give each scenario some sort of context.
The new gun models sure do look puuuuurdy
So far I’ve not heard much negative chatter in-game or online about the Beta and although Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve Software have made some significant changes to the CS formula, it still feels like a solid game. Now excuse me while I got back to being decimated by pubbies and work out how to mute voice-chat.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive is available from Steam from August 22 (Hey that’s today!).