Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – First Impressions

Thanks to some underground connections, black market trading and a few broken laws I’ve managed to acquire a CS:GO beta key. I played CS back when it was a MOD and I played Source ever since it came out, in fact Source is my favorite multiplayer game of all time. I never had so much fun and met so many awesome peoples from any other multiplayer game. That and it was insanely addictive. So when I heard they were making another one, part of me couldn’t wait, but another part of me didn’t want them to mess it up.

First off, being a beta I am not judging it as a final product. However, Valve have Source and maybe even 1.6 to base the game off. They have to know what players want, and a lot of us don’t want Valve to mess with our precious baby. But since this is a beta, now would be the time to do crazy things and judge the reaction, such as allowing hats or in game purchases or endless DLC. Who knows what they might come up with.

Now before you say something like “oh it’s just Source but with better graphics”, immediately when you start playing you’ll forget that, if you’ve played Source enough. I literally only just got the beta but I’ve just played cs_italy for at least an hour and I tried the two maps on “Aresenal” mode. I decided to write this after ending the pistol round on de_dust2 against some bots. Here are some things I’ve noticed:

New Buy Menu – It’s this circle thing that’s actually pretty easy to use and each category is assigned a number, just like the menu in CS. Honestly, it’s pretty much the same thing, except for one small difference – categories in red mean that you can’t afford any items in that category. A nice addition.

Weapons – Oh man, where to begin. The UMP among other guns are insanely under powered, at least I felt that way. The Sig and the Aug are quite powerful too, maybe a little more than Source, but it’s not bad. But the big thing that’s going to be hard to fix is the spray patterns. It isn’t Call of Duty where you can run around like a twat and get headshots, you have to aim. Except you can’t spray like you could before with weapons like the AK and the M4 – there doesn’t seem to be any set spray pattern, you just have to take short controlled bursts at range. Although I didn’t play for too long, you could see tracers from your guns and I don’t know how that will help with learning where the bullets go, but for the most part, it seems fairly random to me. Now I know it’s not finished, but all the guns sounded way too generic, but of course it’s no where near close to finished.

The maps – I played a lot of cs_italy. I am glad they brought back the chickens, except they brought them back in full force. They are running around EVERYWHERE! Seriously, I thought I saw an enemy at one point – it wasn’t, it was a bloody chicken! I think they did this to make up for the fact that they changed italy. There’s no hidey hole in the long hallway, that needs to come back. And the alleyway is now intricately linked with the wine cellar somehow. If you’ve ever played cs_italy_extended you’ll sort of understand what I mean, just not quite as elaborate. Remember I said earlier that I played dust2 for a bit? Well, I went to short A and that cinder block that’s on short that you can hide behind – it’s short so that you can’t hide behind it anymore. WTF Valve?! I know you’re trying to make a new game but please put that back, that was a tactical position! Not a big one, but at least it was a jokes place on pubs! I didn’t look around any more because I needed a break, but if Valve are going to mess with things like that, I’m going to have to write an angry e-mail 😛

Graphics/Presentation – The game doesn’t look that good. Not ugly, but not what you’d expect in 2012. I think Valve can do better, but maybe it’s too early to tell. One of the most annoying things was the bloom – everything was shiny and bright and I hated this! There were no advanced options to turn this off, maybe in the full game I hope there will be. Another annoying thing was the dust floating at the ground level in some places. Maybe it’s just me but I found certain places hard to look at. Character models were nowhere near as distinctive as Source. Which brings up my next point, the character models and identifying team mates were annoying. I mean the map is useful but it takes me a split second to decide sometimes if someone is an enemy or not. Doesn’t help that friendly fire is on by default. Maybe I need to get used to it, I did only play for an hour. The mini map is nice though, doesn’t seem cluttered. It shows your team mates, spotted enemies, and places where enemies were seen last and even your FOV. It also shows the bomb area, so overall I think the mini map is a good addition to the game.

Once thing Valve seem adamant about shoving in all their games is their cinematic like kill cams. I am hoping this is a server option and they turn it off because it’s the most useless and annoying killcam I’ve ever seen. Valve are usually pretty good at user experience, but this one is just plain out of character for them. Overall I see that they are trying to make the game more appealing to a broader range of players, but please don’t be stupid, EA and Activision will forever hold the crown for stupidity, we don’t need Valve as another competitor.

Sound – As I said before, the weapons sound too generic and I didn’t get to listen carefully for sounds such as footsteps and distant reloads because whilst I was playing, I was on Skype with a friend who wouldn’t stop jibber jabberin 😛 I’ll report back when I get to fully experience the sound properly. One thing to note, even though you can turn it off, music is on by default. Again, trying to appeal to broader range of players, I get it Valve, but that doesn’t mean turning it into Halo or Call of Duty. Counter-Strike was the number one multiplayer FPS for a reason – because it was CS. Don’t destroy that.

Game modes – The two classics de_ and cs_ (bomb defusal and hostage rescue) return, but there seems to be a new mode called “Arsenal”. These are quickie rounds where there’s no buying of weapons – you’re given a gun with limited ammo (btw I felt I was going through ammo like a fat kid goes through a box of chocolate) and it seems to be a de_ map. There are two new maps I played on – both small, I guess to facilitate the quicker rounds and both seemed fairly well designed. When you get a kill in Arsenal, your weapon is downgraded. I don’t know how low it goes (no limbo jokes please) and whilst it seems fun, it’s probably not gonna stick. It seems like a mode for casual players, but still doesn’t have enough appeal for it to be long lasting. Still though, it’s really simple and easy, which means it has the potential to be addictive. What they should do is add gun game, can’t go wrong there!

In conclusion – from a competitive point of view, there’s still a lot of work to be done. I mean lots of tweaks to the gameplay mechanics, but of course, that’s to be expected. As a new game in general, there’s some potential there to make it appealing, but Valve has to walk the tricky tightrope of balancing the game to make it appealing for more casual players whilst still retaining the interest of the competitive gamers. Even though I think Valve are a talented bunch, I’d say this will be one of their toughest challenges yet, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

P.S. I got my key from a friend, if you’d like one, try here.

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