Ok, I finally got a chance to play this game around 9 PM last night, and my overall thoughts thus far is this. For a beta release....this game does not disappoint!
For the beta release, you are only given 2 character models (1 T, 1 CT) and the character models look a lot better. They are slightly hunched over and their movement while running and strafing is a little weird at first, but when you look at it from the right angle...then you see how smooth the movements are.
The player models are great. Terrorists have facial expressions, players cast shadows, you still can't see your feet, but that's no biggie. Their body posture is a little ugly looking, and you need to get used to the strafing, but all and all...it's a good look. Another cool addition is that the dead bodies stay on the floor and you can shoot them causing blood and twitching.
The only map for the beta release was De_Dust. They completely re-did this map, and made it fun to play again. Graphically, it is on par with some of the levels you will see in Doom 3, only with a dusty more cheery atmosphere. There are more boxes, baskets, and push carts lying around all over the place. And one of the coolest features is the interactive parts of the map. De_dust now has barrels, trash, tires, and basket lids that you can shoot, and push around the map. My favorite is pushing a barrel down the ramp closest to CT spawn.
These add a lot to the realism of the game. The tunnels are all re-done, the bombsites look more like markets than just the traditional green boxes.
The gun models are another great fix to the game. All of the guns have been re-skinned. The pistols for the most part look the same, except the P228 now isn't all thin at the top, instead it's more realistic and rounded. The Deagle is now polished chrome. Light reflects off of it depending on where you are on the map, and instead of the barrel being square, it is now rounded as well. The M4A1 looks a lot better. It's got a lot more detail (as do all the guns) and it looks to be in better proportions. The heavy machine gun fires a lot more accurately which is something that will probably be adjusted...but my favorite weapons are now the scoped weapons. When not zoomed in, you can see the reflection of the things behind you in the eye piece of the scope. It's already managed to save me from getting knived.
Grenades have been changed up a lot too, and for the better. Grenades do more realistic damage. A nade that lands right next to you will severly hurt you or kill you. Smoke nades make it difficult to see an enemy, but it looks like REAL smoke, so you can usually make out a shape. The smoke is now black, not light gray...and how it travels is very realistic. Flashbangs got the best overhaul of all the grenades. When you are now flashed, the screen goes white for a moment, then you lose hearing, and when you start re-gaining your vision, your screen looks as if you are spinning around in circles until you get your senses back. I think this is one of the most realistic parts of the game.
If you were already a counter-strike hater because of it's many bugs and hackers...then this isn't going to be to your liking. But if you have enjoyed Counter-Strike in the past, then this is a must. I can't even begin to imagine what it will be like when they get their 4 or even 6 different character skins for each side. And also when they start to re-do all of the other maps. I played in a server that allowed 64 players and aside from attrocious lag...it was an interesting experience. There's nothing like going against 32 bad guys, because it's hard to imagine fitting 64 players onto a dust map.
For a beta, they did a great job. Still a lot of work to be done, but this is truly going to help Counter-Strike as a whole.