Counter-Strike could be one of the most important titles in gaming history. I don't say that lightly. Starting out as a mod before being acquired by Valve in 2003, Counter-Strike is still one of the most played PC games on the charts right now, with the latest version (Counter-Strike Source) being 8 years old. Without Counter-Strike there would be no FPS Doug, no hatred towards AWPs and we wouldn't know you could run faster with a knife.
So when Valve announce that they are releasing the next iteration in the series, it's a big deal. After being in an exclusive beta for months, we were finally invited to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Initially I was not impressed.
When Valve announced that CS:GO was coming not only to PC, but to consoles also, I was wary that we'd see the titular PC shooter succumb to console design. My biggest fears were realised within moments of logging into the game.
Even in the menu screen those dreaded Xbox controller buttons were appearing at the bottom of the settings page. Sure, this is simply a beta and will probably be fixed in the coming months, but it immediately put a sour taste in my mouth.
Then I launched into a 5v5 scrim on de_italy, a map I spent a lot of time with during my CS 1.6 days. Immediately from first looks, the graphics engine has been significantly improved. The character models look fantastic, and the general environments have certainly been spruced up.
Then I hit my first "console" feature; the buy menu. I hit the B key expecting to find my familiar "B, 4, 2" combination that I used so very often when I was greeted with a horrid radial wheel system. In order to go through and look at the properties of each weapon you will need to select the category, and then move the mouse across the screen to see that particular weapon's descriptions. It feels slow and useless, and is obviously there for use with a controller and its analog sticks. Whether this makes it into the full version of the game remains to be seen.
The gameplay elements are the same you have come to expect from the series, yet everything seems to "float" just a little more. Hit boxes seem a little more forgiving, and while CS:GO still feels like a hardcore shooter, it also feels a little more accepting also.
That's when I jumped into cs_office, my favourite map next to de_airstrip (please bring it back Valve). Seeing the map with a brand new coat of paint felt like a dream come true, and the gameplay started to fall into place. This was still the Counter-Strike I loved all those years ago, it just feels a little different.
The weapons are by and large the same we've been using for years. There are a few extra little items like the stun gun that change things up a little, but if you've been a CS player for years, you've already got your combination that works well for you. Stay tuned for our weapons guide later this week to get the full story on weapons and equipment.
Is it for the better? Time will tell as more maps, game modes and servers become available. While it is still undoubtably a hardcore shooter, its exterior sports a "friendlier" approach that will hopefully usher in a new generation of Counter-Strike players. If you're one of those CS players who bitches and moans about the jump from 1.6 to Source however, you'll want to stay away at all costs.
By Stephen Heller - Bio