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There was a time when I could call CounterStrike my game. I logged hundreds of hours with friends before Steam even tracked such things. I replaced my gun models, installed blood mods, and even dabbled with mapping. But somewhere along the way CS and I parted ways. Sure, CounterStrike: Source was amazing, and the Gun Game mods were a hit at every LAN party, but I just couldn’t hack the competition anymore. But now the beta test of the upcoming CounterStrike: Global Offensive has stirred me out of my single-player fever dream and brought me back into the fray. So, gather around and listen, all who have eyes to read, while I document the pain and glory to be found in CS:GO.
The beta only has two maps currently, de_dust1 and de_dust2. Both are the same classic maps that you know like your own living room, but unlike your living room, they’re getting cleaned up. Most notably in Dust 1, there’s a new passage connecting the underpass to the way above, which reduces the time it takes to mop up the stragglers towards the end of a round. Likewise, the weapons are fairly limited in the current build. A Desert Eagle (now available to teams), the UMP, the two sniper rifles, and each side’s respective rifle and starter pistol were all I had at my disposal. Both sniper rifles have received visual redesigns, and the scout has been retitled the “SSG 08.” The only change I noticed was a higher rate of fire for the UMP, which significantly improves its viability.
All the weapons feel like classic CounterStrike. This is because developer Valve is staying its traditional course and not adding the ubiquitous ADS (aim down sights) ability. This forces you to crouch, walk or stand still to control your gun. You need that control because the weapons have the same wide cones of fire. It’s easy to open up full-auto on a guy, only to have every shot go straight over his head. To compensate, the dynamic crosshairs are much improved, providing much more detail about your current accuracy than any others I’ve seen. You might not be able to hit the broad side of a barn, but at least you’ll know why.
Global Offensive introduces two grenades that add new tactics to the game. The Molotov cocktail is the easiest to understand. When it explodes, it spreads out flames that temporarily block off a passage, while the smoke provides a modicum of concealment. The Decoy has the most intriguing of uses. It makes gunfire sounds wherever it’s thrown. It’s most useful at higher-level play, where using sounds to guess enemy locations is critical, but I can’t see it being used much in casual play.
There’s a lot of cross-platform compatibility in CS:GO, but it never holds back as a PC game. In the options menu there are lots of settings for TVs, including lowering the field of view, switching to a higher brightness and moving the screen to fit your display. These settings are likely to coincide with the launch of Steam’s TV mode, which will allow for full navigation of Steam (and Valve games, apparently) via controller. While I can’t see anyone playing CS:GO with a gamepad against the average keyboard-and-mouse gamer and enjoying themselves, I can see it working well for that bloke who always lugs his 40-inch plasma to the LAN party.
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