First of all, CS:GO has not been released yet, but the beta has been out for the past 6 months and it’s safe to say that the version we have now is likely to be the release version.
For those new to the series, Counter-Strike is a First-Person-Shooter (FPS) series developed by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment. There are two factions: the terrorists, who must plant and detonate a bomb at specified sites, and the Counter-Terrorists, who have to defend the bomb sites and defuse the bomb if it is planted. In a competitive game 30 rounds are played by two teams of five playing 15 rounds as each faction. You buy equipment with money earned by killing opponents, planting or defusing the bomb and winning rounds.
As covered in my previous article, the Counter-Strike community has been divided over the two previous iterations of the game (1.6 and Source, we’ll leave CZ out). Could Global Offensive be the game that unites the community?
Counter-Strike is hard for beginners. It always has been. You spend your first few games confused and you die. A lot. There is no tutorial, there is no training. You die until you ‘get it’. The game has always had very simple, effective mechanics. Learning what you have to do is easy, but mastering it is a steep challenge. Global Offensive follows this tradition. Joining a game puts you right into a 5v5 and if you don’t know how to buy weapons, you learn.
This may seem quite harsh, but it’s also the reason the community is so competitive and loyal. Anyone who gets to grips with the game and comes to understand it has worked hard to get there. There’s a sense of having earned their skill. It creates dedication and rewards effort.
The main game mode is also the same, you must plant or defuse a bomb within a time limit to win a round. There are two versions available: casual and competitive. Competitive is the 30 round game described previously, casual is a 10 round version with friendly fire turned off. There are some new modes available which will be covered later.
Overall, this works well. It keep Global Offensive in the Counter-Strike zone and enhances the gameplay experience. Even with the move to console it is clear that Valve aren’t going to give any leeway. You want to be good? Earn it.
You can tase people now. The taser has not yet been unlocked but from gameplay videos, it seems to be a one-shot only instant kill. This could work well but it’s a little dubious how practical it will be, it is an expensive weapon which could put players off, especially on the competitive scene.
Other major changes can be found in the accessories menu. All other versions had a grenade, flashbang and a smoke grenade. Global Offensive adds a Molotov cocktail, covering an area in fire for limited period of time, and a decoy grenade, simulating gunfire which can be used to distract the enemy. You are limited to three grenades at most(one of each type). This certainly opens up more strategic options for teams and it will be interesting to see how they are incorporated.
There have been some changes to the guns, the core weapons (AK, M4, AWP) remain the same but many of the others have been slightly tweaked. The default CT (Counter-Terrorist) pistol has been changed from a USP to a P2000 which feels less accurate but packs a bigger punch. The shotguns have all been changed with two new additions, but who uses shotguns? There are some new SMG’s which could be Valve’s way of tempting players to use them when on a budget. These changes (aside from the P2000) won’t cause major changes in gameplay, but might allow for more experimentation.
This is where 1.6 and Source players fall out. Global Offensive attempts to take the best elements of both games and find a sweet spot for players of both previous versions to enjoy.
The guns are certainly less forgiving than in Source. If your first shot is off, don’t keep shooting and trying to adjust. Stop, aim again, and then shoot. Small bursts, single shots if possible. Try to run around a corner shooting wildly, and you’re done for. Once you improve with your gun control, you can start to spray, but don’t move and use your mouse with near-perfect control to get a kill.
Don’t make noise either, you’ll get killed. Walk, don’t run, you’ll get killed. Don’t switch to your knife, it makes a noise, you’ll get killed. Counter-Strike has never just been about better aim, it’s about using your eyes and ears. Not just hearing footsteps, but knowing where they’re coming from and how far away they are. Sound in 1.6 was crucial, Source was a little more dulled. Global Offensives its between the two, sound is important if you want to do well, but you can’t hear everything from everywhere.
In the original Counter-Strike, you could shoot through almost any wall. With each iteration of the game this feature has been reduced. Now you can only shoot through wooden surfaces and thin doors. I enjoy the sense of realism this gives, and the fact that you can use cover when needed. Cover isn’t massively emphasised and if you try to sit in cover too long you’ll get hunted down, but it is helpful during gunfights.
A beta game is a version of the game which is not ready for release but is given to members of the public for testing purposes. Is this how betas are used? No, they have turned into a marketing strategy, a way to promote your game. This is why games are patched so often after full release, because the beta wasn’t used to problem solve.
Except for Global Offensive.
Valve and Hidden Path actually ran a real beta, in fact, Valve ran one of the longest, most detailed betas ever. They released small sections of the game to the beta players at a time. Usually they would have one map to play on, limited guns and only one game mode. This meant that the developers could work through each part of the game in detail, and deal with all of the issues that arose. This was also helped by the release date, stated to be “When the game is ready.” Of all the release dates I’ve seen, this one has got to be the most comforting. Not a Christmas release, not a summer sales promotion, no, just when it’s ready. Well it’s ready now, and out on the 21st of August.
Developers, that is how you run a beta.
The game looks good. It looks very good. The character and gun models are gritty and realistic looking, the characters still run like they’ve been riding horses for too long but it’s not as noticeable as previous versions. The maps are well made and the textures are high-resolution.
Was that a short analysis? Yes, because Counter-Strike isn’t about the graphics, it looks good enough to work and it overall a pretty game. I do, however, have one major gripe. The ambient graphics.
Dust, debris and mist. They all add ambience to a game and add a sense of realism. The problem here is that Global Offensive is a competitively designed game, based on player skill and strategy. There have been a number of times where it has been difficult to spot a player through mist or discern a head popping up from the debris behind it. If this is an intentional feature then it may not go down well with competitive players and the professional scene (yes that’s a thing). Reducing graphics quality can also remove some of this ambience, which can confer an unfair advantage to players aware of this. For a game like Global Offensive the textures and models should look great (which they do) but there should nothing between the two. A player should be able to see another player if they have line of sight.
The Game Modes
The addition modes are Gun Game and Arsenal. In these modes you receive a weapon, and upon each kill the quality of gun you have is changed, until you are stuck with a measly knife. At this point you must try to sneak up on players and stab them. The first player to accomplish this wins the round. Gun Game has the quality of gun get worse whilst Arsenal increases the quality of gun. The modes are just arcadey fun, to burn up some time. They are enjoyable and good for learning how to use the different weapons, but it is clear that the games focus is on their classic demolition mode.
£12, currently on sale for £10.79. Add around 5 to the figure for US and Euro.
That’s not a joke, this game actually costs £12. A game that is guaranteed to sell big, only costs £12. The price is most likely so low because they want to send a message to players of the previous Counter-Strike games: “It’s £12, give it a chance”. The developers know their community well, and they know how stubborn CS players can be. By dropping the price so low they’re leaving players with no excuse to miss out.
The only potential issue I can see with the pricing, is that console gamers who don’t know the series may think it’s a cheap game for different reasons, and not give it as much attention as they should. As time goes on, however, I’m sure word will get out, this is an excellent game that understands its roots.
CS:GO can be bought here. (A copy of Steam is required, this is free)