PC Gamer
Counter-Strike Global Offensive TV lines of action

The GO TV client for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will launch before the Electronic Sports World Cup finals kick off on November 1. That's according to a tweet from the official CS:GO twitter feed spotted by PCGamesN. "Everyone will have a chance to watch the show," say Valve. They've posted a screenshot of GO TV in action, which includes some tactical squiggles over a map, suggesting that casters will have the terrible power to draw anything they like live on the internet.

The ESWC is set to conclude next week during the Paris Games Week. Find out more about the tournament on the ESWC site, and grab the full schedule here.

PC Gamer
Counter-Strike Global Offensive Vertigo map

Valve updated Counter-Strike: Global Offensive today with two additional maps and a refit of the Classic Competitive matchmaking system. Vertigo, a classic Defusal map, returns with a Source facelift to its multi-leveled mayhem and shadowy camping nest corners, while Monastery chills things out with an Arms Race among the snowy promenades of a windswept temple.

Classic Competitive matchmaking now involves queuing up until 10 player matches are found before starting a game. Group queuing and matchmaking with friends are also possible through a "Play with Friends" option. Head over to Global Offensive's website for a short FAQ on the new matchmaking.
PC Gamer
Counter-Strike 1.6

Wow. Like any sport, the scores of grizzled and battle-trained gaming teams competing in tournaments and championships offer chances to observe spectacular upset victories and displays of superhuman prowess. Here's a tip: If you ever see a player named "Noppo" during your Counter-Strike 1.6 sessions, flee. Confused? Check out this video of the deciding match for the Asia eSports Cup featuring Noppo's team myRevenge and a hilarious disregard for vision-obscuring walls. More details inside.

After losing two team members early on in the classic de_nuke map, Noppo hunkered down beside one of the bomb sites and pulled off a spectacular five-kill ace sealing the win for myRevenge. This is the crazy part: three of those kills were through walls. See, Noppo capitalized on Counter-Strike's "wallbang" feature: bullet penetration through certain surfaces. An edited X-ray video -- complete with appropriately freaking out Japanese casters -- reveals Noppo's unreal accuracy in finer detail.

Over the weekend, the Asia E-Sports Cup was held at the Tokyo Game Show. Local Japanese team myRevenge (formerly UNiTED) faced off against the largely Singaporean team Asking Questions.

Noppo has been playing competitive Counter-Strike for a while now and is one of the best players in Japan—and the world.

The above clip is from the Asia E-Sports Cup, and supposedly, that's no mod. Cheats and mods are not allowed in tournament play.

So, while the clip shows through the walls, this was edited in. Noppo was apparently shooting through those walls "blindly" based only on sound, crowd reaction, and where people usually hide. What's more, Noppo had to remember which walls his bullets could pass through (and which guns to use).

MyRevenge took first place in Counter-Strike 1.6 at the Asia E-Sports Cup—and as this clip shows, deservedly so. The team was awarded ¥800,000, which is around US$10,000.

The above clip comes courtesy of The Developing Community and YouTube user Sparky1337357.

Asia e-Sports Cup 2012 - Noppo vs Asking Questions [Sparky1337357@YouTube via HLTV]

『Asia e-Sports Cup 2012』 Counter-Strike1.6 部門で日本チームの myRevenge が優勝 [Negitaku]

(Video Thumb: Negitaku)

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Robert Yang)

“A People’s History” is a three part essay series that argues for a long-standing but suppressed tradition of non-industry involvement in the first person genre. This is part three. [Part one. Part two.] (more…)

PC Gamer

Epic Games frontman Cliff Bleszinski conducted a crowdsourced interview with Reddit over the weekend in the popular "Ask Me Anything" subreddit. A number of noteworthy responses cropped up regarding Bleszinski's thoughts on revisiting older IPs, modding's explosive popularity, and (though very definitely not announcing this) an open-world reboot of Unreal, among other answers. Check out a few choice quotes below:

On the potential for a Jazz Jackrabbit reboot:

"Not any time soon. We're (fortunate) slaves to our success here at Epic with great franchises like Gears of War and Infinity Blade. It seems like a risky bet: Could we see a 2D platform game return and really move that many units, or would it just be a cult hit?

"We make games as a labor of love, but we also try to weigh the choice of what we build based upon a solid understanding of the business. How could Jazz exist and flourish in this market? I don't know, honestly. One idea that George Broussard and I discussed years ago was to bring back Jazz as an FPS, Jumping Flash style. But yeah, we'll do that in our 'spare' time."

When are we getting a return to the PC FPS glory that was Unreal?

"It seems as if you're asking about two entirely different games. The first Unreal was more of a single player exploratory experience whereas Unreal Tournament was a multiplayer focused game with a 'ladder' for the single player. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

"I was quoted recently on a Fortnite panel about the first Unreal and what a reboot might look like. Having really grown into a big Bethesda fan lately (Skyrim rocked my world), I couldn't help but wonder what a reboot of Unreal would be like if it was more 'SciFi-Rim.' Sure, there would be shooting involved, but exploration would almost be more important. Get back to that sense of wonder that the first game had. (Caves and castles and crashed ships are basically your dungeon instances, whereas the 'overworld' is less intense.) Put it on a high-end PC, and prepare yourself for amazing visuals never before seen in real time.

"As far as a new UT, it's hard to say. Shooters and their sequels are a tricky beast. Often you wind up upsetting your core whenever you make a sequel because sometimes you change things the users didn't want changed, or the users are so very in love with their memory of the original game that there's nothing you can do to live up to the first game. This happened with Counter-Strike: Source, Quake 2, Unreal Tournament 2003, and heck, even Halo 2. All that said, I do personally believe that Unreal Tournament 3 suffered a bit from an identity crisis in regards to whether or not it was a PC or console game.

"So if, when? I don't know, honestly. We're understaffed right now for all of the projects we've got going on, so I can't say if or when it may happen. I do love that IP, and I do hope to return to Na Pali some day.

"P.S.: The delta between the current crop of consoles and a high end PC is incredibly obvious now. Looking at Hawken at PAX versus the other console games and this difference is startling. FYI, Fortnite is a PC-first game."

If there's one current trend (DLC, pre-order exclusives, etc.) you could change in the game industry, what would it be and why?

"I'd make sure there's still a place for survival-horror games to exist and floursh. There have been a few that have come back (Amnesia comes to mind), but by and large the genre has almost vanished. Fatal Frame 2 and Silent Hill 2 are two of my favorite games of all time.

"I believe that one of the main factors for this is the blockbuster-hit driven nature of the business that we have in a disc-based market. You're either Call of Duty, Skyrim, or Gears, or it seems like you're a 'campaign rental' or a used game. When we get to a digitally delivered world, I'd wager that there will be room for, say, a 20 dollar short and fun and scary experience to emerge."

What do you think of DayZ, and as a successful game designer, do you consider the success of games like DayZ, Minecraft, and Kerbal Space Program changing the way you think about gamers and how to design for them?

"I haven't had a chance to play DayZ myself, but I've seen the viral videos. That mod is a prime example of my theory stating, 'Bugs notwithstanding, there's a direct correlation between how cool your game is and how many interesting YouTube videos it can yield.' I loved the 'Never trust anyone in DayZ, especially if they have a helicopter' video. Pure gold.

"So, put the survival and social aspects aside for a second and step back and consider that we're in a world where a mod like that can blow up thanks to the connected nature of the world in which we live. A handful of guys can now have a great idea for the next big thing and put it out and it can explode seemingly overnight! We had seen this before with mods like Counter-Strike, but it's only become more and more frequent lately.

"My wife and I were very hooked on Minecraft for months. It's brilliant, and I have a lot of respect for Notch and the crew at Mojang, and I find it thrilling that unique games like the aforementioned can flourish now."

You have unlimited funds and processing power. What film/novel/comic book would you make into a game?

PC Gamer
New muzzle flashes: firey, good.

I’ve determined that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is from another dimension. It’s a game that doesn’t need to exist. PC gamers (thousands of them, according to SteamGraph) are perfectly served by Counter-Strike: Source and CS 1.6, content with the decade-something of tuning and attention those games have received.

But here’s GO: full of doppelganger Desert Eagles and de_dust déjà vu, quantum-leaping from some parallel timeline whose game industry briefly intersected with ours. Playing it is like running into a college crush at the supermarket. You immediately notice differences. Oh, you’re married? Your hair looks different. But that experience of reconnecting is pleasant—they’re mostly still the person you admired during geology.

In other words, GO’s familiarity helps and hurts. Minor deviations from the CS you might’ve known or loved are easy to identify. The MP5 is now the MP7, but it lacks the same clicky report and underdoggy “this is all I can afford, please don’t kill me” personality. The TMP is replaced by the MP9. Ragdoll physics don’t persist after death, curiously. You can’t attach a suppressor to the M4 for some reason.

I’m not particularly bothered by this stuff; I don’t need the MP5 reproduced precisely as it existed in 2004 or 2000 to live a fulfilling life. What does bug me are some small but significant changes to firing feedback. When you shoot someone in GO, they don’t wince. There’s a sneeze of blood, and audio that conveys that you’re hitting them if you’re within a certain range. But they don't do this, and I don’t understand the decision to omit a flinch animation on character models.

Especially at long range, it takes a little more effort and squinting than it should to tell if I’m hitting someone or not. And counterintuitively, bullet tracers, new in this version of CS, are an unreliable source of feedback. They seem to trail the path of your actual bullet by a few microseconds. With rifles and SMGs, my eyes would wander away from my enemy and crosshairs--what I should be watching--and try to interpret where my bullets were falling based on the slightly-delayed, streaky particle effects. The small upside to tracers is that they mitigate camping a bit.

The changes made to existing maps are clever and careful, though. Cracked glass is more opaque, making it modestly more difficult to go on a sniping rampage in areas like cs_office’s main hall. Adding a stairway to the bottom of de_dust makes the route more viable for Terrorists while retaining that area’s purpose of a bottleneck; moving the B bombsite closer to the center of the map discourages CTs from hiding deep in their spawn point.

Considering these smart adjustments to classic maps, it’s puzzling that GO’s “new” mode and the new maps bundled with it are so gosh-darn mediocre. Half of GO’s 16 total maps are new, but they’re all locked to the Arms Race (a rebrand of the famous community-created mod GunGame) and Demolition (GunGame sans insta-respawn, plus bomb defusal) modes.

After 50 hours logged, I’ve stopped playing these modes completely. In the shadow of Valve’s talent for mode design (Scavenge in Left 4 Dead 2, Payload in Team Fortress 2), Arms Race and Demolition are safe, unimaginative, and most of us have played their predecessor. I would’ve loved to see VIP scenarios revisited. It presents a ton of design headaches (if your VIP isn’t good, everyone hates them forever), but it’s an experience that’s absent from modern FPSes.

But yeah, the new maps. Aesthetically, they’re likeable. de_bank mirrors the indulgence of fighting around Burger Town in Modern Warfare. de_lake and de_safehouse let you duel inside a multi-storied cottage and on its surrounding lawn. But tactically, they’re trivial compared to their parent maps. Most of them are compact (de_shorttrain is literally an amputated de_train) and designed to support instant-action, meat-grinder gameplay that reminds me more of Call of Duty.

What I’m lamenting, I guess, is that Valve and Hidden Path missed an opportunity to add a new classic map to the lineup--something that could’ve joined the legendary rotation of Office, Italy, Dust, Dust2, Aztec, Inferno, Nuke and Train. They could’ve tidied-up lesser-known but beloved community maps like cs_estate or cs_crackhouse. Instead, the eight we get feel more like paintball arenas--too fast, relatively fun, but frivolous. They lack the personality, purpose, or tactical complexity of their predecessors.

Even with these questionable adjustments and shrug-inspiring new maps, GO produces quintessential Counter-Strike moments. Being the spear-tip of a rush with a P90. Being the last person on your team and feeling the glare of your teammates as you try to win the round. The feeling of each kill you make increasing the safety of your teammates. Knife fighting for honor. Accidentally blinding your team with a misguided flashbang and getting everyone killed. Building a rivalry with an AWPer over the course of a match. All of that is preserved.

GO is a $15 ticket to reconnect with those sensations; it retains CS’ spirit as a competitive game driven by careful tactics, cooperation, and individual heroics alike. It's still a game about positioning, timing, and, say, thinking critically about how much footstep noise you're generating. GO preserves CS' purity in that regard--it remains one of the only modern shooters without unlockable content, ironsights, unlockables, or an emphasis on things like secondary firing modes.

Atop that, there are some touches that rejuvenate the game we’ve been playing for 12 years. The new scoreboard is terrific. There’s both a server browser and a party system, if you prefer that. There’s a slider for scaling the UI. New players can practice against bots offline. And although a few of the weapon models are unambitious (the Nova and sawed-off shotguns look like drug store toys; the AWP and the Scout resemble one another a little too closely), I love that there’s multiple sets of character models for both teams--cs_office and cs_italy’s Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists look and sound completely different.

I expect you’ll like most of the new weapons, too: the PP-Bizon is a cheap, 64-shot SMG. The MAG-7 shotgun is slow-firing (and slow-reloading, as it’s magazine-fed) but absolutely deadly. I like that heavy machine guns are no longer total novelties, and are viable in a few situations. The Molotov and incendiary grenade fold into Counter-Strike’s core concept (iterating on tactics between rounds) beautifully because they’re throwable walls of fire that can deaden the momentum of successful enemy tactics.

In summary: go, go, go. I’m hopeful that the competitive community will fill in the map and mode gaps left by Valve and Hidden Path. Zombie Mod is a good start.
First things first: headphone users beware.

[Video spoilers] Granted, this guy probably should have known to check that nifty little camp spot. And nobody likes campers anyway. But it's still pretty hilarious that he got caught with his pants down, so to speak.

How to shit your pants in CS:GO [YouTube via Reddit]

PC Gamer
ArcticCombat 2012-08-23 14-58-17-40.avi_snapshot_00.23_[2012.08.23_15.31.05]

The déjà vu flows strong through the beta of Webzen's free-to-play multiplayer FPS Arctic Combat. Not because of its familiar modern setting or armory, nor from hearing soldiers shout "reloading!" 20 times per second. No, the cause mostly lies with one particular map, Sand Storm, which is a very close replica of Counter-Strike's de_dust2.

Aside from slightly tweaked hallway/corridor dimensions and crate emplacements, AC's map might as well be Dust 2's neglected sibling, right down to the Middle Eastern motif and recognizable choke points. Admittedly, Arctic Combat's deathmatch-style combat fits well with Dust 2's tight corners and circular design, especially with randomized spawn points. But I'd probably get pasted multiple times standing on a bomb point wondering why my C4 isn't coming up.

Arctic Combat is in closed beta, but keys aren't difficult to obtain. This video drew our attention to the similarities between de_dust2 and Sand Storm's very close homage.

What Makes A Good Knife Kill In First-Person ShootersWhat's the big deal about Counter-Strike? Wasn't it just a Half-Life mod?

Well that Half-Life mod was so popular that Valve developed it into a standalone, multiplayer first-person shooter. People lost hours of their lives playing version 1.6 of the game. And then when Valve released Counter-Strike: Source, an update to 1.6 that ran on their new Source engine, people lost hours of their lives playing that, too.

Now, almost a decade after Source's release, that upgrade proved popular enough to bear what appears to be its carbon copy in Global Offensive, which happily retains the beauty of the knife kills.

So why were all those first-person shooter experiences so popular? It's simple: because they were simple. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive—just like Source, then 1.6 before it—is a simple first-person shooter. There are no perks. No levels. No unlocks. Your weaponry and gear are based on money you spend at the beginning of each round. Money that you accumulate with kills.

This design makes CS: GO unlike its first-person shooter competitors. The Call of Dutys and Battlefields that even the most infrequent of gamers recognize are vastly different from a game like GO. GO puts its players on a fairly equally footing. Your wins are determined by your skills as a shooter, and your ability to identify what weapon you're most proficient with. Not everyone is as handy with the infamous AWP, a one-hit kill sniper known all too well in the Counter-Strike community. Heck, I can sometimes score more kills with a Desert Eagle pistol than I can with my usual preferred M4 rifle. But I'm just weird like that.

(Knifing in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)

It all comes down to how you play. And as you practice—burning through the classic mode of Counter Terrorist versus Terrorist in a plant-the-bomb, defuse-the-bomb, rescue-the-hostages scenario as well as the newer modes—you get progressively better. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is definitely a competitive first-person shooter. It's a competitive FPS that makes you feel proud of your kill/death ratio, knowing that it all had to do with raw skill. Even little details—like being able to run faster with a knife equipped rather than your bulkier rifle—solidify this claim. There's an emphasis on realism—like the new addition of your scope turning hazy while walking—but the emphasis on giving every player an equal footing is what really makes the game what it is.

That realism continues in one important, controversial way. The knife kill.

The Controversy of the Knife Kill

Unlike Call of Duty and Battlefield, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and its predecessors require you to physically equip your knife in order to use it. That one second required to switch over to equip the knife—either scrolling through on your mouse or hitting the hotkey—makes a significant difference as opposed to the automatically triggered knives in CoD. It makes the knife kill that much harder to pull off than the other first-person shooters of our world.

(Kill streak rampage with the ballistic knife in Black Ops)

Another key difference is how many FPS games will send your body lurching toward the enemy with the click of a joystick. It's basically an aim assist. Especially with the addition of the commando perk in MW2, players would become annoyingly deadly with a knife attack. GO, on the other hand, requires you to run or sneak up to your enemy.

Requiring the knife killer to actually approach an enemy at normal speed is yet another example of GO's attempt to make the shooter experience less cheesy. You'll have to use a bit of tact, sneakiness, and finesse to catch someone off guard. It doesn't feel like CoD where you shoot someone to smithereens and yet the panic knifer still gets the upperhand. Before you know it, they've launched into your body with superhuman strength and speed, leaving you virtually flat on your back and cursing in real life. I've seen players wipe an entire team out in Black Ops using the ballistic knife, either skewering enemies from a distance or slashing them in closer range. GO's knife kills are more celebrated events, whereas in Call of Duty it might just be today's opted slaughtering method.

Then there are other issues. Should the knife kill be a one-hit kill from the back, two stabs required of the front? For lurching knife kills: what range should a game allow you to be in relation to your enemy to pull the knifing off? Knifing is an intricate art in first-person shooters, the nature of which is quibbled over by many FPS fans. Modern Warfare 2 introduced even more complications with the addition of attached and ranged knives. Now you'll have to contend with knife experts who have a new set of knifey options with varying damage statistics, behaviors, etc. Granted, at least players have to manually equip the knives in that new stock brought on by MW2 as opposed to the standard, automatically-equipped knife you start off with in recent CoD games. Though while tactical knives had to be equipped, throwing knives could be aimed. So there's that.

(Throwing knife montage in Modern Warfare 2)

Counter-Strike has always employed a more tactful, measured approach to knife kills. You can pull off a one-hit kill from the back, and certain sweet spots will do enormous damage, but you can't always dominate a player just because you have a knife in hand and have managed to get within slicing range. Your enemy may just surprise you. A de-emphasis on the one-hit kill makes knifing in GO a much more complex procedure. You'll really have to plan it out appropriately to pull it off.

And since we're on the topic of melee kills: what happened to knocking people out with the butt of your gun? Halo encourages a gun-butt tactic to finish off a kill. The game will even allow you to one-hit melee-kill fodder enemies. I can appreciate that methodology.

The knife kill in first-person shooters is a point to pick with many gamers. It can be infuriating to dominate the shooting field just to be left sprawled on the ground from a lucky knife hit. People argue that there is no strategy, no skill involved in the lurch-knife (known as the panic knife) move. If you're one such player, you'd be doing yourself a favor to check out GO's knifing method. For once, you can actually appreciate being killed by a knife, knowing that you have to give your murderer props for managing to land the hit just right.

(Aaron Amat | Shutterstock)