OK, so, a friend of mine got me CS:GO, and I feel somewhat obligated to discuss it, if for no other reason than the fact that CS was a big part of my adolescence and one of the most incredible competitive games of all time that came along just in time to make my life a little more bearable.
Which is to say, it gave me something to do when I skipped class more often than not.
For those that are unaware, Counter-Strike was a mod for Half Life, the award winning game by Valve, that took the world by storm. Over ten years after its release, the current version of the game remained the most played FPS in the world, and easily the most played competitive FPS.
Players are divided into "Terrorists" and "Counter Terrorists" in a stripped down pseudo-tactical shooter, and compete to plant/defuse bombs, guard/rescue hostages, or simply slaughter one another in a viciously unforgiving battle royale. It was "somewhat" realistic, in that player health values were small, guns behaved reasonably realistically, and there was no insane nonsense like kung-fu instant kills or regenerating health. Or, you know, any of the myriad things that make Modern Warfare tourneys so pointless.
There was a period of controversy when Valve attempted to upgrade the venerable game from "Counter Strike 1.6" to a version of the game on their brand spanking new "Source" engine. As a former "local" competitor, I have to admit I wasn't impressed by CS: Source at first. It had many problems that affected the feel of it, and a few other issues I couldn't quite put my finger on for a little while (hitbox problem, if you play CS, you know what I mean).
That said, I was surprised to see that I wasn't alone. After I left the community, CS:S ruptured it, and the gulf is gigantic. As testament to how incredible the original version was: serious competitive players tended to prefer it, and it remained a dominant force on the competitive scene from its release to ten years later at least! But, to placate any CS:S lovers in the audience: it improved vastly in its later days, and I admit I played it a lot, just not seriously.
CS:GO is the latest attempt by Valve to fractalize the community even more, and the shitstorm of complaints and ignorant asswipes trying to demean the feedback from literal professional players did nothing but annoy me, so I decided to ignore the entire matter. Then my friend bought me the game. Darn it...
So. At first glance, after 15 hours of playtime clocked on Steam so far, I thing CS:GO is a success. There are certain issues that irk me, but I found it easy to make the shift from 1.6 & Source to this version, despite a lot of cosmetic differences. Most of the big problems seem to be ironed out, and character movement is sharp and tight, the new guns are fun, and I generally enjoy playing it.
A few complaints from the pros still seemed to be valid, though. One was that the recoil from firing weapons is significantly more random. I'd have to double check this, but that does seem to be the case, and the "M4A4" (actually the Mk18; I guess Valve would rather call the "new" gun a freakin' Sherman tank instead of use the right name for fear of confusing dipshits) seems seriously deprecated because of it. The weapon I used to use primarily in CS1.6 seems a little unreliable now, and I find myself preferring some truly bizarre alternatives; but I admit I might just need practice or to be shown the error of my ways.
Also, as a result of the recoil being a little more chaotic, the old sidestep-shoot method doesn't seem quite as good anymore, although again, perhaps I need to correct my timing. So far, single-shot tapping is the only option whatsoever even at surprisingly close ranges.
The new guns are delightful, especially the Negev. It's just such a damn joke, with an absurd fire-rate, high damage, and ironically predictable recoil. Though, in my opinion, it's not overpowered at all: it costs an arm and a leg, if you die (again, it's CS, so that can be easy) the enemy picks the bastard up, and frankly, players in games need to be made more aware of the true meaning of "cover/suppressing fire" anyway. If someone is covering a door with an LMG/SAW you don't try to go out that f*cking door or try to rush them.
I would've been happier to see something else though, such as maybe an old Soviet LMG or something that is not yet another Israeli gun in CS that looks far too similar to the current offering (M249). It would've given them another angle to work with too, instead of "lol fast fire-rate, accuracy of a dart-player with brain trauma" - maybe the Pecheneg or RPD? Look, it's simple, Valvey! Take the RPK.
Higher caliber, so make it do more damage (video game logic!), longer and heavier barrel, so make it more accurate, with a SLOWER rate of fire. The RPK, still in use today, would be very available to terrorists groups while the M249 Para wouldn't be, so make them unique to those teams, and, of course, drum-magazine: quicker reload! Ta-da! There's a hundred better choices than the Negev, though my friends can attest to how much I love that stupid bullet hose.
The AWP is still in the game, and I still find it annoying. Every game has this gun - the unreasonably, unnecessarily powerful "thing" that causes discord in the community. Let me qualify that, though. I did play CS1.6 competitively - a long time ago in a far-away land. I was playing when the AWP was considered powerful but a very large risk: it would only really work if used somewhat realistically, from a good position, zoomed in, pow, okay, high-risk, high-reward. Instant dead enemy, but if you were flanked by a guy with an M4? Bye-bye. During my time playing CS, that was when no-scoping and other techniques were discovered. Some new players seem unclear on what it used to be like and why it was so powerful, so let me explain.
You used to be able to run around with a knife (displaying a cross-hair on your screen, so aiming was easy), gaining all benefits of an unhindered movement speed. When an enemy was sighted, you'd hit "Q", line the cross-hair up, and fire the AWP, then back to the knife with one single twitch. I.E., the AWP was now suddenly a perfect weapon; in practice, it did not slow your movement speed, it did not require you to be zoomed in, it was perfect at long, medium and close ranges, and due to the quick-switching mechanic, it took only a fraction of a second longer to reload it as it did to pump a shotgun after firing.
Competitive players quickly adopted the AWP, including myself, and learned how to use it because it was now necessary, though not without some revulsion. It's significantly more balanced now, in all versions of the game, but to be clear: I still think a one-shot-kill sniper rifle in CS is a tad bullshit. Players continue to focus intense efforts on perfecting their "awping" and it's still a common cause for outcry on a public game when a good "awper" gets his game on. The problem with it is simple, and it was exemplified incredibly clearly back when I played seriously: if a good AWPer took to the field, you were very likely to be slaughtered, because your skill with the AK/M4 was negated by his AWP. Meaning the only way to level the field is to play the AWP too.
It's still very powerful to this day, and I honestly don't know what I feel about it. As I said, I have used it in the past, and it's satisfying to use, but really, what it comes down to is that I understand perfectly when people complain about being stomped by one dude with a "snifle" quick-switch shooting them in the stomach for one-shot kills where they can't fight back and/or didn't know an AWP was in play. I understand. Doesn't mean I won't use it, but still.
Besides which, sniper rifles in games like CS kind of tick me off for a gun-nerd reason: the ranges involved are minuscule, you never need a sniper-rifle.
Another odd thing in GO is that you don't seem to flinch when being shot, or slow down as much as in previous games. Meaning that even if you're riddling a person with bullets, they can still head-shot you and walk away - puts more emphasis on twitch-reflex shooting (and mouse quality) than on strategy, teamwork and making good use of equipment like smoke/flashbangs. This problem has been in CS from the beginning, and it's obviously still been successful, but I notice it more in this game than in the last versions. Getting shot in the ass by an SSG sniper rifle and managing to scoot away easily seems a little silly.
The biggest complaint I have is simple: the graphics are pretty, but the colors are washed out and lack contrast. The camouflage many of the player models use is annoyingly effective, and I don't feel that's part of Counter-Strike. Making it hard to see your enemy and discern what team he is on has no place in a game like CS:GO, and the amount of times I've seen alert players gunned down by bots "hiding" in plain sight has made me face-palm so much I think my nose is permanently flattened.
At any rate, aside from a few niggling problems that may just require some getting used to, CS:GO seems an excellent game, at least for players just trying to have fun. I don't know, and I will never truly know or understand how it fares for competitive play. That's something I had no success at when I was younger (and no internet connection for it, either), and I doubt I have the energy to have another go at it. Though I did fire up CS1.6 recently and noticed I performed a shit-load better in that than in Source/GO. Of course, the only people still playing the original, "bad graphics" version are freakin' modern pros, so... yeah. My face got punctured rather a lot.
I can't give CS:GO a score out of ten or anything like that. It's enjoyable to play, but you need to decide if you need another game in your collection - albeit one at a great price with hours of addictive replay value and good graphics. Is it better than Source or 1.6? That is a nest of hornets I won't touch in a million years. All I can say is that I'd like to try and play 1.6 a little more nowadays, wallow in nostalgia for a bit, even with Source and GO available. It's still freakin' excellent.