So it’s been 2 weeks since I last wrote a Counter That, and strangely nothing has changed apart from my skin tone and the condition of my liver. One thing that did happen, that didn’t involve me spending 14 days of my life trying to get skin cancer and liver disease, was that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive came out of closed beta and was made available to the general public as a public beta and a pre-order.

Now before I continue I should probably mention that, yes I am back, and thusly I have a certain Eminem song running around in my head (and 2 trailer park girls going round the outside).

I’ve been playing GO since the end of March when I was invited into the closed beta, and I’ve seen the game change and evolve in one direction and go completely the other way. I’ve seen Valve set the game up based on the opinions of professional players, and then realise that all the Pro’s want to do is to protect their revenue streams and thus were out to harm the gameplay experience for the casual players. However, with the release of the Open Beta, recoil patterns, movement friction, and the like have all been settled upon, but I’ll talk more about that in a little while.

For anyone who has played any of the previous Counter-Strike games, CS:GO feels very familiar but in a modern sort of way. The almost unfathomable recoil and bullet spread patterns of CS 1.6 are gone and have been replaced with something that’s a lot more intuitive and easier to handle. There are some new weapons too. Gone are the TMP, USP, and many others, all to be replaced with more modern weapons like the MP9, MP7 and the p2000. There have also been several additions to Counter-Strike’s arsenal. An LMG called the Negev and a Taser are amongst the additions, but most notable is the incendiary grenade/Molotov cocktail. It’s proved very useful at blocking off routes on a map temporarily thus creating tactical choke points for teams to ambush players, if used correctly and in combination with a flash bang I have seen this tactic win matches.

Another addition to Global Offensive is the addition of 2 new game modes: Arms Race and Demolition. Arms Race will be familiar to Counter-Strike veterans as it is basically GunGame but played on 2 completely new, specially designed maps. It will also be familiar to Cod players as a similar mode is now included in Call of Duty. Demolition is an interesting addition. It is essentially a mixture of Arms Race and a DE (defuse) map. Unlike Arms race the weapons set is limited with a mixture of assault rifles, shotguns, pistols and sniper rifles. You level up by getting a kill, and extra grenades are awarded for every extra kill you get that round. Rounds are won, as Counter Terrorist, by eliminating the opposing team before the bomb is planted or eliminating the Terrorist team and defusing the bomb, as Terrorist you win by eliminating the CT’s or holding them back long enough for the bomb to explode. The Demolition maps themselves are small. Safe house for example is a small, 3 bedroom wood lodge with a front and back yard and most of the fighting takes place on the first floor. The same is also true of Lake. The other demolition maps, Sugarcane, St Marc, Bank, and Shorttrain are a little larger and offer more opportunity for more tactical play, and I think this will make them more popular with more experienced players.

Valve has also done their best to rework parts of the most popular maps. De_dust has had a stairwell added in the underpass area of the map and a wood walk way over the CT mid-ramp. This removes the underpass choke point and also allows for quicker access to B, which has also been moved down from CT spawn to lower CT spawn. This has made it easier to get to in emergencies and also if the snipers nest is not covered it also becomes a very sneaky and fast way to confuse the enemy and win matches. Dust2 has also had some minor changes in the upper tunnel area, with some extra added furniture to restrict movement a little more and prevent sneaky players hiding on the stairwell picking off players on the other side of the room. Aztec, Nuke and Italy have also had changes made to them, Italy more so with the wine cellar area being split in half. Office, strangely, is pretty much as it was in CS: Source with only visual changes being applied. Port, Compound, and Assault have not yet made an appearance and, personally, I don’t want to see either Assault or Port make a return. They are both very poorly designed and need a complete redesign if they are to make a return. For me, Compound was always an interesting map to play. More open than tradition Counter-Strike maps but with many buildings dotted around and two large, interconnected warehouses in the center of it. It provided many interesting and unique challenges and would be a welcome addition to CS: GO.

So I guess we better wrap this up (and yes I am back, tell some men).

In conclusion then, is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive any good? If you were to ask me (oh, wait, you are) I would say yes, it is easily the best iteration of Counter-Strike so far. It’s accessible to new players but has the intricacies needed to make it successful on the Pro circuit. Also, at the current, Pre-order price of £10.74 (or just about $17 according to my currency converter) it’s also great value for money. I’ve put over 110 hours into the beta, and when the game is released properly on August 21st, I’ll be totally willing and gob-smackingly happy to put another 110+ hours on it getting the achievements again while I laugh at the noobs trying to figure out how I manage to get 5:1 or higher kill/death ratios (pro tip: Play with people you know so well, you know what they’re going to do next without having to ask them. Also, find a gun you like and learn it. Know it better than you know your own genitalia).