(Technically there’s a chance Sham1 himself is going to make a Part II to this article, but it’s been 10 months since he wrote it so I’m going ahead and assuming the slot’s open.)
D4mo bought me Counter-Strike:Global Offensive for Christmas! I’m super excited, not only because it’s the largest hole in my Valve collection and I’ve always wanted to try it, but also because I’m currently visiting my parents for Christmas and the only computers they own are Apple. Since Apple TF2 is currently experiencing a bug causing a crash to desktop within seconds of joining a server, I’ve had my supply of available games drastically reduced so CS:GO could not have come at a better time.
Unlike sham’s article, which comes from a position of seasoned experience, I knew extremely little going into this. I knew the game had some sort of in-game weapon-purchasing economy and I’ve played Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike:Condition Zero in single-player a few times, but I still played a few games against harmless bots as a warm-up before jumping into multiplayer servers. I also luckily had a few friends explaining the ropes, especially Davjo who gifted me my first StatTrak weapon. Thanks man!
I really like the in-game weapon economy because of the dynamics it applies to the combat. You can’t always just grab the best weapons and go to town; you had to balance your income and make sure you were getting real use out of your purchases, because in a game where anything can kill in a few shots and corpses are all over the place, the game has a good chance of dropping something perfectly decent on the ground in front of you. Unfortunately, this brought me to my first major dislike, and that’s the fact that Casual spawns everyone with free kevlar (and defuse kit) every life. In my opinion this really ruins a large part of the strategy because without the need to purchase body armor, money is never an issue. I played downright abysmally, averaging single-digit kills per map, and yet I could buy whatever I wanted just from the runoff funds. According to my friends I’m stuck playing Casual until I reach Rank 3, where Competitive opens up and the infinity kevlar is removed. Sadly I really don’t think I’ll ever have the chops for competitive and ranking is so slow I highly doubt I’ll ever have enough XP to reach Rank 3, so that’s kinda a bummer. I’ll just appreciate the delicate balance of the in-game economy from an outsider’s perspective.
I was rather surprised by the weapon selection in the game and how well it found ways to differentiate all the hitscan. Some weapons had silencers, some had aim-down-sight, and most slots had an unusual option blurring the line between the weapon tiers. The CZ Auto is a pistol with SMG-like fully automatic fire, and the UMP-45 is an SMG that deals damage on par with rifles at the cost of accuracy. I could actually feel all the stat trade-offs I was making when choosing different things. The AK-47’s accuracy penalty hurts, as does the SG-553’s low damage. I almost always gravitate towards specific weapons in shooters because a single gun often feels like it fits my play style perfectly, but that just didn’t happen here and I found myself constantly swapping out my weapons trying to find something that fit my needs. And ultimately I think that’s a very big plus in the game’s favor. Constantly wished I had a flashlight though.
Most of my games were the default mode, where two teams compete to either prevent or assist the detonation of a block of C4. I dabbled in Arsenal (players initially spawn with easy-kill rifles and each frag rewards a progressively worse weapon until somebody wins by getting a kill with the gold knife) and enjoyed it mostly because of the instant respawn significantly increasing my actual playtime. However I preferred Bomb Defusal because it adds an objective to the gameplay, and I’ve always thought that objectives made a game better because it turns the killing into a means to an end rather than the point itself. Though I feel like Team Fortress 2 does a better job of making its objectives a team effort; in general I find that murdering the whole enemy team is often the primary focus for most teammates rather than wherever the bomb is. I haven’t tried the hostage maps yet because I always seem to wind up on Dust II, though the fact that they got rid of Hostage AI and basically made them loot bags from Payday is a change I can get behind. Nobody wants to lose the round because of a moronic escort. Speaking of which, I haven’t played VIP mode but I’m super excited to, since it’s the closest thing I’ve heard to Team Fortress Classic‘s fun-as-hell Hunted map.