The Smilegate and Remedy co-developed shooter is now available on Xbox consoles, and we have a lot of thoughts about it's turbulent launch.
I can usually smell a stinker of a game from a mile away. Their pervasive blandness usually can't be masked by neither pre-rendered trailers or obvious PR bragging. CrossfireX, however, was a little different, it was said to be developed with the involvement of the Finnish studio, Remedy, who made the single-player campaign. Considering how good, unique, and well-written Remedy's games can usually be, I was actually intrigued. There isn't a shortage of military-themed action games, but generally, ones with a truly great narrative are not common. But, let me state right away that this is a really rotten game. There isn't a single aspect minus the design that is actually good, and with that said; let's go through the many issues.
The first thing that struck me when I started the game is that I didn't really know where to begin. The menus are laid out in a completely idiotic fashion, and you don't get any help anywhere explaining what's what. In addition, there can sometimes be multiple menu systems on screen at the same time, all navigated in different ways, like mouse pointers that are included seemingly just for fun and don't work, with others navigated with the controller's shoulder buttons, and still others on top of this with submenus that look nothing like any of the former ones.
CrossfireX is essentially a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive knock-off with a handful of team-based gameplay modes, including the placement and detonation of bombs. This the basic premise from which Remedy then built a campaign. But taking a multiplayer title and building an adventure off of it is messier than you'd think, and it feels like Remedy set some poor intern on creating a campaign to bring in some quick cash from Smilegate.
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This hurts considering the basic premise isn't bad at all. Here you play through a story in two ways, namely as both the Black List and Global Risk, which are the two private armies at war. In theory, this could have provided interesting perspectives and added lots of grey areas to the story instead of just having two warring factions. In reality, however, we get none of this and any interesting potential that exists is wasted due to completely unimaginably old-fashioned gameplay and a plethora of other flaws.
Take the fact that it's far easier to shoot guns in real life than in CrossfireX. I shoot pistols myself and have rented rifles many times in the US. Using hot lead to make life miserable for cardboard targets is an art I'm actually pretty decent at, but in CrossfireX this is significantly more difficult. A huge dead zone around the analogue stick means that nothing happens until I push it quite a lot - whereupon it gives full effect. It feels a bit like playing with a D-pad, with the sights flying across the screen.
Fortunately, the enemy is dumber than a dumbbell and can for no apparent reason start running in front of me instead of just shooting me dead, and it often feels like I'm actually shooting at dead targets rather than actual people. The game controls otherwise offer pretty much the same finesse that Call of Duty 2 did in 2005, and the challenges along the hyperlinear and totally uninspired levels never extend beyond me occasionally clicking the right analogue stick to crouch under something. The two campaigns take roughly six hours to play through, but I really can't recommend any of you do this, although I would like to highlight the slow motion combo system here where I get the chance to extend my time in ultra-speed by killing as many enemies as possible, which is a feature that could have been really cool in a better game.
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Unfortunately, the multiplayer component is no better either. The Crossfire series is absolutely huge in East Asia, and I was actually a bit curious to see why the series has become so big there, but I actually have even more questions now than I had before. This is, in fact, a disaster. It's astonishingly unfinished, has sound effects that would have passed for hobby work in high school, and the game controls are still just as rickety. Add to that the fact that the level design has distinct choke points, which sees those who have played a lot hurl hand grenades at these spots from the beginning of a game to blow up newcomers before they even have a chance to even see the enemy. The balance is also completely out of whack with some people abusing the system and being both invisible and half immortal. Worst of all is the Nano mode where you fight infected, and the set-up is so ill-conceived that on several occasions I couldn't even complete the matches but had to wait out the clock. There's also only one map per game mode, six in total, which is shockingly few.
Despite being graphically rather primitive, the developers have unfortunately still not managed to optimise it. In reality, this means that the frame rate often takes a beating on the Xbox Series X, and objects tend to be blurry even when they're right in front of me, before they load properly. Fortunately, the design is good, at least, with uniforms, weapons as well as environments not being terrible. CrossfireX also often has a gaudy colour palette, and I like the contrast of getting to shoot my way through a game that isn't just brown, as so many other military games tend to be.
In the end, I can't recommend CrossfireX to anyone, even those who have Xbox Game Pass and can try it out at no extra cost. It's really not worth your time and everyone involved should apologise. That includes Remedy, who has now tarnished their brand with this crap.
3 / 10
Cool design. Interesting slow-motion system in the campaign.