CS:GO – ultimately, disappointing

I spent some time the last week or so playing multiplayer Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). I got into it with the intention of playing the Battle Royale mode with friends, but it turns out my potato desktop can’t handle the huge world size. The normal-size maps work just fine, though, so I dove into deathmatch in hopes of having my first good FPS multiplayer experience since 2009.

And at first, it was a blast. There didn’t seem to be any issue with lag compensation ruining the game the way it ruined the Modern Warfare 2 & 3 multiplayer for me, and there are plenty of people to play with. I found myself wishing there was a Goldeneye type mode because I thought they’d really nailed the FPS multiplayer experience. Of course I ran into a few blatant—and not-so-blatant—cheaters, but due to the way they split the map packs up (you can pick which of four map sets you want to play on) it’s easy to just move to a different set of maps and avoid them.

But after a few days I got used to the mechanics, and as I did, the shine wore off and the ugly cracks appeared. Put simply, the guns are the worst implementation of such I can ever remember seeing in an FPS. There are two fundamental problems:

  1. The guns behave as if they’re made of rubber, spraying bullets after the first one or two in a spread a sawed-off shotgun would be embarrassed to produce. The shittiest rattletrap wartime-production stamped submachine gun you can imagine is more precise IRL than any of the non-sniper rifle weapons in CS:GO.
  2. The point of aim and point of impact have no relationship after the first shot in almost all of the guns. What I mean is, the bullets start to hit wildly far from the point of aim, so you can’t even compensate for recoil visually by dragging the sights back onto the target during a burst. You know, the way gunsĀ actually work.

It also feels as if there’s some kind of hit cooldown in effect, where the game ignores any hit that happens within a certain window of time after the last registered hit. I say that because when I know my weapon takes 5 hits worst case to kill and I am required to fire 8-10 rounds to achieve the kill at close range (so I know I’m not missing due to the insane spread), it just doesn’t add up any other way. I don’t know if this is a real thing in the game code or some kind of network latency effect, but it feels like shit.

Finally, I also take issue with the balance of the guns because it’s just so poorly done—at close range, a UMP 45 (a 45 ACP submachine gun) is equal in strength to an M4, which is just hilariously stupid. The weapon stability balance also makes little sense: I mean, if you’re running around, your weapon spread is much tighter with a pistol than with a carbine. Anyone who thinks that is the case should try it sometime. Just try to hit a silhouette while you’re walking quickly with a pistol vs with any long gun and see how it goes. But those are minor problems compared with the first two.

That’s a lot of complaining, but it’s all deserved. I have no idea what the developers were thinking when they coded the weapons in this game. I was playing multiplayer FPS almost from the time it became an option in the 90s and games back then handled guns enormously better than CS:GO. Off the top of my head, Delta Force (1998) had excellent bullet drop, which made sniping a lot of fun. Quake 2 (1997) had recoil management in the submachine gun, where you had to drag the gun back down out of recoil to stay on target. Rainbow Six (1998) / Rogue Spear (1999) handled accuracy vs movement well and did an awesome job with armor and bullet penetration. And in 2007 we had Modern Warfare, which, for all people justifiably bitch about Call of Duty these days, remains one of the best central-server multiplayer FPS experiences I’ve ever had.

So why did CS:GO (2012) do such a terrible job with the most important mechanic in the game? I can’t say, but I do know I doubt I’ll bother picking it up again.

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