CS:GO first impressions

Yesterday, 14th August, the beta of Counterstrike Global Offensive was released. At about 5,5 gb, it took a while until it was downloaded.

I’m not going to write a detailed review here, I’m going to just expose how I felt about a couple of rounds. Firstly, we’re now welcomed by a redesigned menu, with an animated background. This gives you right away the feeling that it’s a modern game. Before I even started a game, I checked the video options and it seems that they were automatically set, but you can still tweak some of those. I set most of mine to a higher level, since my computer can handle it.

Starting a game now takes a more complicated path. No longer we’ll have to search for good servers and add the best ones to “Favorites”, instead the matchmaking system takes the lead. Of course, the former option can still be used. There are currently 4 match modes, one of which is the classic gameplay adapted to the different map objectives that exists. The other ones… well, let’s say that you won’t need a respawn or guns mod plugin anymore. I think this standardization is in the benefit of the game.

Most of the controls are those with which we were so used to all these years, so getting accustomed with them will be a fast process. Actually, after about 2 rounds you’ll feel like you’ve been playing the game for years. One of the interface elements has been totally redesigned though, and that is the buying menu. It was simplified and stylized as a radial menu, benefiting the player by making the weapon decision a fast action. This in turn accelerates the match a bit. Nice optimization!

I haven’t played enough to “feel” every tweak. Frankly, I haven’t been playing regularly any of the CS games for years, so it’s quite difficult for me to even say something about the weapons. Some of them still feel like handling a muzzleflash shooting porcelain. I don’t know, there’s just not enough fluency in them. At least that’s my feeling.

A lot of people will probably say “Whoa! Look at those shiny new graphics!”. Well that’s half true. It is possible that they introduced new graphic methods or updated the source engine, I might be wrong here because I didn’t delve into the technical aspects of the game yet. To the untrained eye, it looks like a whole other game. Visually, it has certainly been improved. But in my opinion, it’s mostly adding even more detail and making even more optimizations using the same material that’s been there for years(yes, there are new props and textures, but you can surely spot the old ones in certain places). You can see Source‘s traits all over the place. The clever thing they did was about lighting. Even the most detailed map is nullified if the lighting is bad. Lighting can trick the eye into seeing an ugly space as beautiful. Using lighting and small architectural tweaks, they succeeded in making a lot of surfaces, buildings and objects look less blocky. Good lighting also adds a lot to the atmosphere. Oh, one other thing I surely appreciate is that they replaced the ubiquitous wooden boxes with other detailed props. Yeah, some are still there, but at least they look different…

A nice touch to the waiting screen while connecting is the display of tips and certain quotes from historical figures( mostly involving war, courage, success).

It is quite amazing to see a gaming engine as old as Source( it’s slowly approaching 10 years now) still being developed and still spawning great games after such a long time. Even so, the age takes its toll. There’s an obvious difference between CS:GO and other modern online FPS games, Source is soon not going to be a solution for new games anymore.

I made a visual comparison between the 3 CS games for cs_office, de_aztec, de_nuke and cs_italy. Here are the screenshots( click for fullres):


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