Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Hand-On Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Box Art
System: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Dev: Valve Software, Hidden Path Entertainment
Pub: Valve Software
Release: August 21, 2012
Players: 1-16
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p
A Sewing Machine In Disguise
by Josh Engen

Over the last few years, Call of Duty has lassoed an extremely large portion of the FPS market, but its success was undoubtedly built on the backs of some of the most important titles in video game history. See, every single era of gaming had its own particular zeitgeist depending on your genre of choice. Titles like Doom, Unreal Tournament, GoldenEye, and Halo have defined and redefined the first-person shooter market repeatedly, and their popularity says just as much about gamers as it does about the industry itself. But there's always been one outlier in the FPS market: Counter-Strike.

Over the last few years, Call of Duty has lassoed an extremely large portion of the FPS market, but its success was undoubtedly built on the backs of some of the most important titles in video game history. See, every single era of gaming had its own particular zeitgeist depending on your genre of choice. Titles like Doom, Unreal Tournament, GoldenEye, and Halo have defined and redefined the first-person shooter market repeatedly, and their popularity says just as much about gamers as it does about the industry itself. But there's always been one outlier in the FPS market: Counter-Strike.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Screenshot

So it's not really surprising that the folks over at Valve are hoping to carve a good sized hole into CoD's majority by wedging a sequel to what might be considered the most influential FPS in video game history into an already overpopulated genre. But gamers have short memories, which means that no amount of nostalgia is strong enough to spark a runaway hit—just ask James Bond fans. Needless to say, Valve definitely has their work cut out for them.

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At E3 I got the chance to sit down and play the PlayStation 3 edition of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and I'm still trying to process the experience rationally. I mean, for the most part, it's simply a spit-shined version of the original, but considering that control pads are worse than blasphemy to your average CS player, I'm worried that Valve might be overshooting their drop zone.

In a lot of ways, CS:GO acts less like a sequel and more like a sewing machine—before you write an angry comment, just let me explain. When Counter-Strike: Source came out in 2004, the CS community was effectively split in half. Many players loved the updated graphics and unique physics, but purists refused to make the transition. In the end, slightly more players ended up rejecting CS:S than adopting it, but the division has been irreparable. Well, it looks like Valve is finally trying to put a Band-Aid on the problem by borrowing the best elements of both titles and weaving them into a single game. If their strategy ends up being successful, we should see a massive outmigration from 1.6 and CS:S, which would effectively sew the community back together.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Screenshot

And judging from my limited time behind the wheel, it definitely feels like CS:GO has the potential to succeed, even on the console. The intricate gunplay, for instance, that made 1.6 unique has been very accurately reproduced, but the game's movement and pacing feel more like CS: Source. After I had a few rounds under my belt, I was already feeling like an old pro. I started pulling my crosshairs down to control spray, and tossing flash grenades over nearby walls to blind unsuspecting enemies. Valve has obviously taken great pains to emulate the original titles in a way that instantly makes the game feel natural.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Screenshot

However, I'm not exactly sure that their attention to detail is entirely appropriate. If I'm being honest, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive already feels out of date. Perhaps I've just grown accustomed to the fast-paced, arcade stylings of Call of Duty or the tactically heavy gameplay of Battlefield 3, but something about Global Offensive makes it feel old. And maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. I mean, the gaming industry has changed drastically over the last ten years, and CS has existed in its own separate time capsule. But by releasing a new version, Valve is simply shining a light on a game that, by most metrics, probably shouldn't still be popular.

Don't get me wrong; Global Offensive isn't entirely borrowed from previous versions. They've added several new pieces of weaponry (including a few new grenades), there are new maps, and the classic maps have been tweaked. They've even removed diffuse kits as an optional item. Counter-Terrorists now spawn with diffusers, but have the ability to drop them. However, even these minor changes should probably be worrisome for CS players.

Screenshots / Images
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