On Sunday night, a new wave of beta keys for Valve’s upcoming shooter, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, was released, and I was lucky enough to get one (and an extra giftable key, which I immediately sent to an internet buddy of mine. His reaction? “WOOOOOOOOOOOOO”). Surprisingly enough, the game is actually pretty fun (and much more accessible to noobs like I than its predecessors), and I spent an hour in a Quick Match server to get to grips with the new mechanics
It’s important to note that I’m not that great at Counter-Strike. I only logged 55 hours on CS:Source, most of which was spent camping in the vents on cs_assault. For that reason, I won’t be discussing the efficacy of strategies (old or new), or the (schweet noscope 360 awp) kills that I get. Well, I might. A little.The first thing that’s immediately obvious upon opening the game is that it is a damn fine looking shooter. It’s obviously not as visually complex as Battlefield 3 or Modern Warfare 3 (the latter, of course, being almost too noisy in the visuals), but the textures are crisp, animations are much more lifelike than in its predecessors, the shadows are almost perfect, and the chickens explode in a nice little cloud of immaculately-rendered feather sprites. It’s a bit of an issue in the cs_italy map, actually – the urge to knife a passing chicken is almost too powerful to resist, and the squawk of a chicken spontaneously combusting never fails to alert a nearby enemy. What’s important, though, more so than the visuals, is the gunplay. I’m happy to report that it’s CS as usual – sure, there are some new guns, which are really quite nice, though the developers haven’t implemented all of the planned weapons yet. Both teams are still missing the semi-auto sniper which was the domain of the semi-competent snipers (such as I), which is a shame, but most of the other weapons are fully functional (apart from the Molotov, which occasionally often exhibits behaviour unbefitting for a glass bottle). In terms of handling, everything seems relatively similar to how guns worked in CS:S – the AWP is still usually a one-hit-kill, and the Elite dual pistols are still hilarious to run around with (especially when you set +fire to down on your mouse wheel). The new expanding reticle is also pretty neat – it’s pretty effective at showing how accurate your weapon will be at any given time. Similarly, the maps haven’t changed much – de_dust2 now has destructible doors, which adds another dynamic to gameplay, while cs_italy’s basement (to the southwest of T spawn) was removed, though that change hasn’t really modified strategies. I didn’t have a chance to play any other maps, as the pub group I played with in Quick Play seemed fixated on playing dust2 with as much rushing as possible – though, I’ll admit, it was nice to be playing with people who actually knew what they were doing. All in all, CS:GO is a sexy shooter which I’ll definitely be picking up upon launch (that is, if Valve doesn’t want to give me a free copy). I plan to record at least a little bit of footage, maybe with some commentary, of me playing an idiot (since I’m pretty awful at CS).