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Eurogamer Expo 2011: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive hands-on

Eurogamer Expo 2011

It’s been a long time since I played Counter-Strike. In my college years, we used to play for hours at a time online or during LAN parties. It was a unique title (or mod) for its time – stepping away from the high-speed twitch gaming of other first-person shooters, it relied on pinpoint accuracy and a complete mastering of the maps.

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One of my friends at the time pretty much quit life for CS, leaving his job to become a professional player in one of Europe’s biggest clans. We used to play as a team of four against him, and never once did we manage to connect a single bullet; his skill in the game was frightening. Now CS is receiving a full release update in the form of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Speaking to Chet Faliszek of Valve, my first question was why they’d now decided to do this update, or sequel, if you will. Chet explained that it had started out as a port of CS 1.6 to XBLA. The decision was then made to put more resource into the project and work on a brand new build for PC, 360 and PS3 to be release early 2012, rather than a port.

To ensure that Global Offensive kept true to the series, Chet spoke of the work they’d done to involve the professional players: their understanding of the most minuscule elements and changes has helped to shape a true follow-up. And having played the game myself, I can confirm that it still feels like the Counter-Strike of old we all know and loved.

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The controls have translated well onto a controller, and console gamers will find the button commands to be different to modern conventions. You sprint as standard and don’t stop from running out of breath, and aiming pulls you down to a crouch with the reticular shrinking to show improved accuracy. The purchasing screen showed off some new gear, including a Molotov cocktail and Taser.

The demo was set in the classic Dust map. Valve had been monitoring what was still popular and discovered that Dust had declined in popularity. As many classic maps will be returning, they’ve made svelte alterations to make them fresh again. Valve is conscious of the importance in Global Offensive of learning every pixel of every map, and by making modifications to maps everyone knows, they’re rejuvenating them and injecting new life, as returning players will find discovering every nuance exciting again.

Upon spotting my first foe, I fired off several rounds of machine gun fire into his back (rather unsportsman-like). He continued running, and so I fired again, this time catching his attention as he spun around and returned fire. Finally – a full magazine clip later – he fell to the ground.

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This increase in health was due to the new Casual mode. The standard rules are still available – no need to worry – and Casual has been created to allow new players to get to grips with the style of play and maps. It’s a valid idea; showing an understanding of how skilled current players are, and how all newcomers would have become frustrated without a beginners’ mode to learn the ropes.

As a new build, the graphics and sounds are both up-to-date. It all looks smooth in a way that has become expected of Valve products – it has that level of polish and finish. It hits the nail on the head, creating a visual range that is both familiar and new.

For those who wish to play off-line and/or practice, there will be local split-screen for two players and AI controlled bots to contend with. The beta starts soon, and we’re hoping to be part of it and bring you more coverage of Valve’s latest title before it launches.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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