It's a daunting game, though the addition of matchmaking will likely help bucket players into approximate skill levels. And if you don't know exactly what filing cabinet to perch on in Office, Global Offensive also introduces two new modes that are far more forgiving to lapsed players and those starting out. Arms Race is a team-based spin on the Gun Game mode that you'll likely have been introduced to via Call of Duty: Black Ops, but which started its life as a famous Counter-Strike mod itself. Its two unique maps are small death-zones with instant respawns, flinging you into instant and frequent confrontations in a bid to ratchet through each of the game's weapons, your gun changing whenever you score a kill, and eventually win the game for your team with the knife.
'There's plenty of things to like about today's modern shooters, but Counter-Strike is the only one of its kind designed to be anything other than a throwaway novelty you replace every year.'
The second new mode, however, is easily my favourite addition. Demolition feels like a lighter version of the bigger, meaner defusal maps, throwing you into tinier maps and therefore smaller tussles (which results in less downtime between rounds upon your likely demise) with pre-selected equipment loadouts. In many ways it's Arms Race in reverse, as you start with your standard everyday M4/AK and cycle through more specialised equipment at the start of each new round if you've scored a kill in the previous one. It even chucks in a free Kevlar vest, allowing you to survive slightly longer without sapping your resources dry. Demotion's six maps are by far the most appealing way for new players to learn the game.
These two modes are also likely made with console players in mind, as is the game's new radial buy menu that makes very little sense when (pro tip: get used to typing B, 4 and 2) you're sitting there with a keyboard and mouse. A quick hands-on shows that the Xbox 360 version handles the game fairly well, with a well-implemented controller layout that lets you run easily run with the knife, but snooty Counter-Strike elitists (like me) will be quick to remind you that no controller is ever going to be able to handle the precision that the game's finest moments demand.
The game's slick visual overhaul is enough to get your attention, but it's the detail and pace of the game's tried-and-tested maps and gunplay that will keep you coming back - make no mistake, these are shootouts that are attractive through excellence rather than nostalgia. There's plenty of things to like about today's modern shooters, but Counter-Strike is the only one of its kind designed to be anything other than a throwaway novelty you replace every year. It's the Audi compared to Call of Duty's Fiat.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive cannot be to me what Counter-Strike 1.0 ever was. I'm too old now, my life has changed too much and my gaming habits are different. But Global Offensive is a fine instalment of one of the best games ever made, and someone out there will shortly be discovering what will become the definitive moments of their gaming lives.
Version Tested: PC