Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was a pleasant surprise announced by Valve in August. But even more surprising is that developers will bring Counter Strike to both PC and consoles. To top it off, PC, Macs and PS3 will get cross-platform multiplayer. Sounds ambitious?
First of all, the queue for CS:GO at Eurogamer Expo was enormous. This was the first showing of the demo in Europe, the staff were giving out free t-shirts, and the fans had to wait for up to an hour to get their hands on the PS3 version of the game. With just 10 seats, you felt like royalty while playing those few minutes of CS:GO.
After finally sitting down in front of the screen, gamepad in hand, we entered the classic 5 VS. 5 team deathmatch. The release version will feature an automatic matchmaking system, so you will never run out of opponents.
And there it was: the dreaded wheel. The game has obviously been updated to allow gamepads, and the weapon purchase menu, originally designed to work well with your number keys, has been replaced by a selection wheel. After buying my weapon I started looking nervously for the helmet and bulletproof vest. There were none. After a while I noticed my armour meter was full anyway, so I guess that makes sense.
The game looks divine. I mean, if you compare it to the modern first-person shooters, it looks average. But if you compare it to Counter Strike Source, it’s on the next level. The seven year old Source Engine is still a top performer.
There were high resolution textures around us, beautiful lighting and deep shadows. But there was no mistake: this was de_dust. Among the eight maps in CS:GO, most are updated favourites. As expected of a terrorist, I clenched my Ak-47 and hurried into the meat grinder. Combat mechanics essentially remain the same. You can jump to get into a good position, and crouch to improve your aim. Minimap in the top left corner displays the area and points out your allies.
I will be honest with you: me and gamepads, we don’t get along in first-person shooters. Give me a mouse, and I will produce headshots like a machine. But the coordination needed to play FPS with analog sticks, it is simply beyond me. I blame my subsequent three deaths on this fact. The gameplay is fast and frenetic, and as usual, there are no respawns. Once you’re dead, you’re dead.
The game has countless achievements you can claim. When you die, the screen displays various statistics, such as who had most kills and how exactly you executed your victims. This gives CS:GO a more light-hearted, arcade feel.
Global Offensive will include a so-called “casual mode”, where you don’t have to worry about earning money for weapons. For the serious player, the old arms race rules will apply, with money earned for kills and spent on better weapons.
Most guns are painfully familiar, but there are eight additions, such as the Zeus x27 stun gun and Molotov Cocktails. The Molotov is an especially interesting new feature. It can set a wide area ablaze, dealing damage over time to anyone who enters it. This has huge potential for tactical play, as you can close off entire passages.
CS: Global Offensive feels exactly like the classic, in a lot of ways. Most of the game’s sounds remain unchanged. Sure, the original CS didn’t excel with its voiced dialogue, but the familiar “fire in the hole” and clicks and clangs of the weapons go a long way towards making you feel at home. All in all, it looks like a decent successor to the series.
The most important question now is if the cross-platform multiplayer will really work. Sure, the PS3 owners have an option of plugging in mice and keyboards. Will they do it? Or will the game become the battlefield, settling the score between two different control approaches?
These questions will be answered sometime in 2012, when the game will be released.