Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Hands-On Impressions -- If It Ain't Broke...By Leah Jackson - Posted Aug 31, 2011
Counter-Strike is one of the games that I'm extremely passionate about. CS 1.6 is one of the first games that I ever played competitively, and some of the friends that I made while playing CS are people who I'm still very good friends with today. When Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was announced a few weeks ago, and we got all of the CS:GO details, those same friends and I all got extremely excited, as we trust Valve to deliver the next amazing Counter-Strike title. At PAX 2011, I got the chance to briefly go hands-on with CS: GO, and I walked away feeling not only impressed, but also completely overwhelmed with nostalgia.
At PAX, Valve was only demoing the Dust2 map, one of the most beloved maps in all of Counter-Strike history. Before I got my hands on the game, I was watching others play it. It wasn't immediate that I saw all of the similarities between the old map and CS: GO version, but once I realized that the new places were the same ones I had spent so much time camping years and years ago, it was thrilling. Watching the players run from A to B, up catwalk, down tunnels, through double doors, hiding in cubby and down pit, it was amazing. The graphics on the updated Source Engine look simply stunning, with new types of clutter spread everywhere throughout the maps. The vehicles that used to just be strewn out by long A are now on fire, adding a whole level of immersion in to the game. All of the new clutter also makes it harder to just race through places like tunnels, as you have to weave through boxes and such to get to where you want to go. It also adds a lot of cover, introducing new places to camp.
Unfortunately, as a PC player, when I got my hands on the Xbox controller to play Counter-Strike, I wasn't exactly in my element. Nevertheless, the game felt great on the Xbox and used standard first-person shooter controls. It's not as easy to bunny hop with an Xbox controller, but other than that it all seemed to work very well. The UI in CS: GO is updated from traditional CS as well. This time around you can purchase guns, ammo, grenades, and utilities through a menu wheel, rather than your standard menu screen. Also, when you die in CS: GO the camera zooms in on who killed you, a la Team Fortress 2, and throws you in to a spectator mode to allow you to continue watching the action and help out your teammates.
We were playing on the Counter-Terrorist side in your standard 5v5 CS game. If you're not familiar with Counter-Strike, it's up to the Counter-Terrorists to kill all of the Terrorists before they can plant a bomb that blows up, simple as that. The first team that I played with didn't communicate to each other well enough, and so we had a bit of trouble dealing with the Terrorists. But the second and third teams I played with all were familiar with Counter-Strike and knew that communication is key, and that calling out where players are on the map is essential. When our team started working together, we blew through the Terrorists during the second and third games. I have to admit that my teammates were much more used to FPS on console than I was, and managed some sick kills throughout our games, but I did manage to land a few AWP headshots myself which I was proud of.
The weapons I played with were generally the same as the ones from classic CS. You have your M4, Pistol, Knife, AWP, and even a few new ones like a new heavy machine gun rifle, new pistols, and a new shotgun. The most impressive new weapons were the Molotov cocktails. It's basically an item that you throw that leaves fire and smoke on the ground which slows players down, and causes area of effect damage. All of your typical grenades are still in though like the flash bang and smoke though. I hate getting blinded by flash so much in CS, and the opposing team really loved throwing them in my face during our demo. After a few rounds of playing, my teammates and I discussed how the Molotov cocktails were fun, but probably not viable in competitive play due to its high cost of $850 each. I didn't get a chance to see the new Decoy grenades that have been added to the game.
My first brief impression of CS: GO left me feeling that the game is absolutely going to impress new and old Counter-Strike fans alike, regardless if they’re Counter-Strike 1.6 or Counter-Strike: Source fans. With all of the old stuff still in there to blast players with fuzzy nostalgic feelings, and the graphics and style of a modern first person shooter, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is certainly on track to go the distance. Whether or not the game will be able to played on a high competitive level is another thing. Once the game enters PC beta in October, we'll find out how competitive the game can be, and just how what exactly the true hardcore CS players think of the game. As for now, CS: GO could just be an effort by Valve to test how much interest there is for a full Counter-Strike title, rather than a downloadable title.
CS:GO is slated for release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in 2012.