Counter-Strike: Global Offensive makes the old new
The biggest difference between Global Offensive and the Counter-Strike of old is that the teams are fixed to five versus five. It's a far cry from the 24-player servers I remember growing up with, but a setup that perfectly suits for competitive play.
The rest, however, is business as usual. Depending on gametype, two teams of terrorists and counter-terrorists are out to either detonate/defuse a bomb or hold/rescue a group of hostages. Players are awarded cash for kills and for completing the objective, and at the start of each round that currency can be used to buy weapons, equipment and ammunition.
The map on show is de_dust (how could it have ever been anything else?) and it's exactly how your mind's eye remembers it. Dust, for those that have never played it, is a blissfully intelligent creation, easily the most conceptually perfect multiplayer construction of all time; a map which neatly and competently nudges you into confrontation in the most perfect of spots.
But, after a few rounds, you start to realise things are a little bit different. I'm not simply talking about the visuals (thanks to the joy of modern technology you can actually make out the dust now) but in some fundamental changes to the construction. There's now a staircase leading up from the underpass, as well as additional cover along the way, allowing terrorists generally safer transit and the option to nip away from confrontation if they get ambushed.
There's slightly more telemetry on the level, too, making it marginally less daunting to navigate around if you don't have the locations for bomb sites A and B permanently etched into your memory.
On top of this are new weapons and grenades, most notably the Molotov cocktail which can easily cut off entire areas if thrown in the right spot - such as the doorway near bomb site A. There are also Decoy grenades, which explode into sounds of gunshots and provide the perfect bait for hasty enemies looking for some cheap kills.
Another highlight is the Zeus, an inordinately expensive taser that's a complete bugger to fire but a guaranteed one-hit kill. It's a comedy weapon, basically. And while we're on the subject of money, the game will include two modes, one of which is far more generous at handing out money than Counter-Strike has been in the past.
Valve will only confirm de_dust at present, but from the trailer I can distinctly make out de_dust2, de_aztec, cs_office, and cs_italy. Eight new maps are promised, alongside seven returning classics. Fingers crossed for de_cbble, everyone.
Counter-Strike, then. It feels like it's never really been away, but I certainly can't wait to have it back.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2012.