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Thursday, June 07, 2012
[Review] Counter Strike: Global Offensive Beta Review
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 4:39 AM --- Post#127237837385922947

My friend gifted me a code for a digital copy of Counter Strike: Global Offensive today. So I head on to play for a few hours and wrote this review. Note that I may not have covered all maps and all weapons in details at the point of writing. If you have been playing CS 1.6 and CS:S, you would be familiar with CS:GO, in fact, too familiar to the point where you wonder why Valve spend so many years developing CS:GO. In this review, I will compare certain point with Battlefield 3, since BF3 and MW3 are the most popular FPS by sales recently and I do not own MW3. Note that this is a review for a BETA version of CS:GO, things WILL change when the game is released for sales.

Starting screen, simple enough to navigate.

Game Modes
There are four modes of gameplay in CS:GO Beta: Arms Race, Demolition, Classic Causal and Classic Competitive. Classic Causal and Competitive are essentially the same old Counter Strike, where you start off with little cash and then earn more and buy better weapons. When you die, you wait till the entire round is over before you respawn. "Causal" has no friendly fire, armour on by default, you cannot purchase defuse kit and the winning team is decided after 10 rounds. "Competitive" has friendly fire, you need to purchase armour and defuse kit and lasts 30 rounds. As for now, it seems like all the maps for Classic are the same as the ones from CS:S, with some tweaking and visual upgrade. The new game mode Demolition is like Classic, but drops both team on a much smaller map and you get weapons for by owning people instead of purchase. I find Arms Race to be the most fun of all, similar to Demolition, both teams fight on a small map, and when you kill some one, your weapon advanced to the next in list and you get it instantly. The team with a player that advanced through all 26 weapons first wins.

A map in Arms Race.

Planting bomb.

From the beta, every round I played only has ten players, which is a far cry from 32 in Source. It uses similar mechanics from Left 4 Dead where all ten slots will be filled every time. Should there be not enough players the game will fill the gaps with bots. When a new human player joins, he will take over one of the bots. If you died, you may take over a bot should there be one still alive.

The game graphics had an overhaul, although the change is not as obvious as from 1.6 to Source, it does change for the better. I am using a MSI Hawk GTX560Ti and on max out graphics at 1920x1080, certain part of the game can drop to as low as 30+fps, but overall still playable. I am glad they brought in FXAA. For those who do not know, FXAA is a new method of anti-aliasing that is done post-process. After every frame is rendered, the edges of the image is seeked out and blurred. On modern graphics card, FXAA has insignificant performance cost, but will remove jagged edges effectively. It looks roughly like 4x MSAA depending on settings. FXAA help out in lower-end GPU to remove jaggies. The side effect is that your image looks softer, but not to the point of losing too much details. In CS:GO Beta, you can use MSAA on top of FXAA. There are generally more details on object models and more decorative items like thrash on the road side and helicopters flying by. The textures have higher resolution and sharpening filter has been applied making the game appear sharper but still lose out details quickly on closer look.

The new office.

Yes, the PC can be disassembled.

Texture loses resolution fast as you look closer.

Shooting guns in CS:GO feels like its predecessors. If you are a BF3 lover, you might find the guns in CS:GO beta feeling like toys. Firstly, there are no bullet drop, bullets go straight across the map. Its hard to see where your rounds are landing, and even harder to tell if they are hitting your target. Like the old game, there is no telling if your rounds are hitting the enemies or not. There is also little indication if you had killed someone, other than the top right kill list HUD which you will not be looking at when you are engaged in a gun fight. A lot of times, I find myself killing people without knowing (I thought my buddy beside fragged him in a cross fire)and there goes the sense of accomplishment when I drop someone. The new crosshair looks stylish at first, but after some time, I realised its not as useful as it seems. It consisted of a static cross hair in the center and a dynamic one that opens of closes depending on the accuracy of the weapon at that point. Fortunately, the beta allows you to switch back to the classic cross hair. The default green colour seems to post a lot of problems especially on maps with a lot of grass and trees. More than one player can earn a single kill, if me and my buddy are both aiming and shooting at a single target and he expires, both players will be shown to get the kill. There are not many guns in the game compared to BF3, some of the old classics like M4A1, AK47, AWP, P90, Dual Beretta, M249 are there, while weapons like MP5 has been replaced with MP7 and MP9. Shotguns and LMGs are grouped together under "Heavy". Raw mouse input is supported in game.

Unlike guns in BF3, which requires you to compensate recoil by mouse movement, most guns in CS:GO Beta does not have too much recoil to control because most guns have quite a low rate of fire. However, weapon spread goes crazy beyond the third shot, making full auto even on half a mag almost useless on most rifles and difficult on SMGs. The AWP is still the same old one-hit-KO laser beam rifle. Camping is still an old time hobby for players in CS:GO Beta, and it seems like Valve has no intention to discourage players from doing it and PTFO. There is no aim down sight like most modern shooters either, the silencer on M4A1 can no longer be attached.

Negev machine gun rattling.

SCAR-20 semi-automatic rifle with scope.

PP-Bizon SMG.

Galil Assault Rifle, for terrorists only.

Sawn-Off shotgun, another terrorists only weapon.

New Weapons
The fresh weapons include the Zeus x27, Molotov and Decoy grenade. The Zeus x27 is simply a taser, but what is so special is that it is a one hit one kill weapon, and it can be used one time only before you automatically drop it on the floor, from what I know, it is only available in Classic Casual game mode. The Molotov behaves like one from Left 4 Dead, you throw it to cover the ground with a carpet of fire, which damage enemies over time and gradually reducing the damage taken when the player steps off. Decoy grenade, when blown, emits gun sounds (which the player is currently using)and an indicator on the mini map of an enemy.

Holding a Molotov.

Using flames from Molotov to fend off CT from bomb site.

Tasing (Zeus x27) in action.

The sound of the game is more disappointing than enhancing the game play. The good thing is that footsteps remain highly audible, the bad thing is that there are almost no other ambient sound around, making the sounds-cape boring. Worst still, the sound clips seems to be recycled totally from the previous games, which was already not the best then. The gun sounds seem to be lacking in lower frequencies that would be otherwise felt as shockwaves and they do not convince me that the weapons are powerful death machines. Every shot of the gun sounds the same, be it indoor or outdoor, after some time the gun sounds more like noise than...guns. Playing CS:GO Beta makes me appreciate the sounds from BF3 much better.

The HUD and GUI of the game has been significantly improved (other than the crosshair). When you mouse over a character, his team and name will be clearly displayed, along with triangles on their head to show their team when you are near. Health will be also be displayed should your teammate is dying. Name of guns on the ground will be shown when you point at them. Dropped bombs are indicated with flashes which are useful to locate if they fall into water like in Aztec. The top of the screen show who is still alive, a feature that could not be implemented in the previous game probably because of the high player count (CSS supports up to 32 players, CS:GO Beta will always have ten players). When you are shot, a splash screen of your killer will show and hitting F5 will let you save that moment, and I though that is very cool, although, why would you want to screenshot someone who pwned you?

Selection screen has a much better design.

Refurbished weapon purchase screen is good.

Clear display of user name and team. Triangles on top of the head to indicate team members.

Cool killcam splash screen of getting killed by a bot.

Game announcements have been improved on to.

Again, online matching is similar to L4D2, you find a game by game modes and maps and the game will throw you into one of the servers with those criteria automatically. For more specific server search, there is a list of all servers where you can filter by command lines as well as favouriting and showing the history of servers you played on. It has puny font size and does not make good use of your whole screen. You will find the same window in most Valve game and it is still relatively user-unfriendly, especially when compared to Battlelog. So far online game play has been smooth without lag. I cannot see my own ping.

The server selection window that is always that small and not very user friendly.

There isn't much customisation available in this beta. I cannot choose how I look like and every terrorist or counter-terrorist look almost the same in game. The good about this is that you can identify friend or foe immediately, but I think some customization would be good.

It is difficult to say CS:GO beta is a successful game. For players like me who seeks innovation (both technical and gameplay wise) and dynamics in gameplay, CS:GO fails to deliver much excitement especially when compared leading titles like Battlefield 3. Even though you may argue that BF3 and CS:GO are two completely different games, CS:GO Beta still does not offer much unique features and improvements over CS:S. For players who enjoyed the old CS 1.6 and CS:S, you might be left wondering why Valve took so long to release a game that has not much difference from the previous title and most importantly, why should I play CS:GO instead of CS 1.6 or CS:S then? Perhaps the pricing of the game might be the deciding factor. It is no doubt CS:GO beta is more fun than CS 1.6 and CS:S but I would personally not spend $59.90 to get a CS:S on slightly buffed graphics, but if it is $9.90 that just change my mind. I hope Valve would add in more features for the game before its public release.

"Hint Text goes here"

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