Hands-on with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike Global Offensive

Depending on how tolerant you are of the often-horrible denizens of online gaming communities, the name Counter-Strike probably fills you with either wrath or delight. Counter-Strike and it’s sort-of sequel Counter-Strike: Source are simple games, but also games that command a fan base of many millions of people. It’s one of the most hardcore shooters ever made, and it’s one of the most famous/infamous games of all time.

For years, the game had been quietly fading into the background of the video game industry as its technology aged and its players moved on to bigger and better things (like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare).

But now with a new installment, Counter-Strike is set to come back into the spotlight. The new game in the series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is not a full-on sequel to the game, but most players won’t care. It promises new modes, new maps, new guns and basically better everything from graphics to gameplay. With all of that being considered, it’s hard to understand why Valve wont call this Counter-Strike 2.

If you’re not familiar with Counter-Strike, the concept is simple. There are the terrorists and the counter-terrorists. They try to kill each other. Some game types require quite a bit more finesse than that, and include much more complex objectives, but that’s the basic gist of it all. Depending on how well you do in a given round, you’ll get money that you can spend on equipment for the next round: a new gun, some grenades, a tactical vest, that sort of thing.

Where Counter-Strike gets interesting is in how it handles death. Rather than a normal shooter where death just means respawning in another spot, death is the end in Counter-Strike. At least until the next round. If you get shot, your team has to try to complete their objectives one man short. So throughout the game there’s a constant balance and tension where you must protect your life preciously while still achieving objectives (which tend to expose you and put your life in jeopardy.

It doesn’t look like CS:GO will offer very much to hardcore fans beyond some new content, and a visual overhaul (though, really, more of the same will be thrilling to them.) We got the feeling that this installment was being crafted as a way to get new people involved in the series. It’s more user-friendly and it’s being released on a multitude of new platforms (of which OS X is one.) The graphics are also being upgraded, which should help the new generation of CoD and Battlefield fans feel a little bit more at home.

We got to play close to 10 rounds with the new game and had a blast. The games were completely evenly matched between the two teams, and the game just got more and more interesting as we all learned how to play. In just a span of 10 games complex strategies were developed, teamwork manifested, and our skill levels skyrocketed.

The game is still pretty far away though, unfortunately, as Valve is leaning towards a 2012 release. And let’s face it, when Valve gives out a release date as vague as “2012″ (come on, we’re only four months away) that usually means “leave me alone, you’ll get it when I feel like releasing it.” They’re notorious for massive delays (that lead to incredible quality).

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