Professional bomb defuser.
Ten years ago I was an absolute Counter-Strike fanatic. I lived and died by the headshot. I would have been damned if I let someone shank me from behind. Every headshot was like another trophy in my collection. While I was never a huge fan of Counter-Strike: Source, I had high hopes for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive before coming to E3. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here. CS: GO is a lot like the previous two games, but that isn't a bad thing. The controls are still the tightest on the market, and when I took someone out on the E3 floor with a quick-scroped shot from my AWP, I felt like the coolest guy in the room. Despite the significant amount of similarities to previous titles, I could tell almost immediately that Valve is making a larger step this time around.
While CS: Source was primarily a graphical overhaul along with some nice new physics—which were amazing at the time—CS: GO packs a graphical punch and brings along some goodies for the ride. I was actually surprised by how good the character and weapon models looked.
But that's not what I was most excited about. The rebalancing of weapons and addition of items, such as the molotov cocktail and decoy grenade, is not to be taken lightly. Decoy grenades remove the need to fake rush bomb sites as a terrorist, and you can no longer rely as heavily on headphones to reveal enemy positions. The weapons are far more balanced now so instead of everyone running around with AK-47s and M4s, there’s a chance we’ll see the SG-550 and machine guns appear in competitive settings.
The map remakes are more than just identical translations as we saw with CS:Source, Valve has gone back and made a few tweaks that have had a profound impact on each level. For example, De_dust's chokepoints are no longer limited to the tunnel and underpass as there's now a third passage that extends from above the classic sniper passage. De_aztec now has different spacing as well as new environmental objects. While these might sound trivial, they have changed dynamics in both public and competitive games alike and for CS fans, that’s one of the best things to hear.
As it stands now, the ranking system will only have an effect on the matchmaking portion of the game, so it's not quite the hierarchical ladder that I came in expecting. That said, it’ll go a long way toward balancing the variety of control methods that the PlayStation 3 version will support. Given CS’s history, I don’t think matchmaking will be particularly popular in the PC version while dedicated servers with their custom maps and defined settings will take center stage.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive appears to be the highly-polished, team-centric shooter that everyone has been wanting. It’s familiar but has some new tricks to invigorate the series. At a price point of $15 and a mid-Summer release, you can bet on it being a competitive shooter of choice for many going into the future.