Sometimes, arriving a little later to the party is a good thing. You may be aware that the launch of CrossfireX was a total mess. The spin-off of the hit online free-to-play game, which achieved a staggering level of popularity, (especially in the Far East) was supposed to be one of the big hitters for Xbox in 2022. Unfortunately, Smilegate Entertainment and Remedy have kicked things off somewhat on the back foot. Still, after several patches and apologies from the folks on the development team the game is much more stable. But has the damage already been done?
CrossfireX is very much a game of two halves. The multiplayer element is headed up by Smilegate Entertainment, whilst the single player campaign (which is split into two separate parts) has been developed by Remedy – yep, they behind Alan Wake and Control. The multiplayer is completely free-to-play, albeit with the usual option to purchase credits for real money in order to buy certain in-game items. The campaign will cost you however, but rather oddly only the first half is available on Game Pass. Purchasing both parts will cost you just shy of £17 if you don’t have a Game Pass subscription, but it’s a strange launch strategy for one of the biggest games to hit the Xbox so far this year.
Anyhow, CrossfireX is a realistic FPS which has more than a whiff of Counter-Strike about it. There are two versions of the multiplayer on offer, “Modern” and “Classic”. The main difference is that the Modern mode allows you to zoom in to aim, sprint and choose three “Tactical Growth Points” at the start of each round.
These allow you to choose between several ability boosts, such as increased movement speed or improved damage dealt from your weapons. However, my favourite (and by far the best value for your points) is the tactical shield and automatic pistol combo. This essentially turns you into a member of the riot police, allowing you to withstand much more gunfire. Classic mode has none of these mod cons, but is instead a stripped back affair which harks back to the original game.
In terms of weapons you start with a few options but as you may suspect, you will need to unlock more by playing for points (if you don’t want to fork out real cash). This takes a while without the Battle Pass cash boost, but is linked to how well you perform in multiplayer games. The usual suspects for this type of FPS are present, such as machine guns, shotguns, pistols and grenades to name but a few.
Across both multiplayer modes there are several ways to play, these being: “Search and Destroy”, “Point Capture”, “Spectre”, “Team Deathmatch” and “Nano”. My personal favourite is most probably Search and Destroy. This plays just like Counter-Strike, where one team try to stop another from detonating a bomb either by diffusing it, or eliminating all opposing players.
In terms of the other modes, Point Capture and Team Deathmatch are pretty self explanatory. Nano sees you fending off monsters in a bid to survive and avoid becoming infected, whereas Spectre plays in the same way as search and destroy, except the bomb carriers are camouflaged.
Now, this is where things get strange. I know the multiplayer is free, however each map is presented as a scenario because you can only play one game mode on each. It’s fixed and cannot be changed, meaning the same rules apply each time. In this day and age, with so much competition, one can only wonder why. As a result, the variety is purposely extremely limited, and before long you’ll be running out of reasons to play the same setup over and over again. You can change your weapon loadout, but that’s about it. The lack of customisation options in CrossfireX’s multiplayer is sheer lunacy.
Away from the multiplayer, the rather short single player campaign starts you off on the hunt for the terrorist group “Black List” and details the subsequent discovery of the mysterious “Catalyst” project. You initially play as the rival mercenary organization “Global Risk”, before things are turned on their head. There is some mystery introduced into the narrative with regards to the main character in the first half of the campaign; something which has Remedy written all over it. However in the end it feels like a humdrum story straight out of the Call of Duty playbook, and despite all of the big bangs proves to be pretty pedestrian on the whole. This is a real shame, as we have been spoiled to some truly world class storytelling by Remedy in the years gone by.
The “Combat Breaker” is very much the gimmick here, which allows you to slow down time and take out enemies with pinpoint accuracy. That’s in theory anyway. In reality, it’s just as rough and ready as the multiplayer controls. Even after much fiddling with the sensitivity options, I couldn’t find a happy medium between my crosshair dragging across the screen and it zipping from one side to the other. I resorted to simply spraying bullets in nearly every firefight because trying to accurately hit a moving target was next to impossible.
Due to the horrendous recoil on the guns, any hopes of carrying out accurate shots are pretty much wiped out. This problem is made even worse when shooting whilst aiming down your sights. As a result, your bullets will often dance around your enemy before the odds of probability mean you eventually land the killer blow. This makes the gameplay feel incredibly dissatisfying, as you’re essentially relying on luck because you’re unable to deploy any sort of skill.
There are lots of collectibles to find throughout the campaign in CrossfireX, but they are not always worth seeking out. It feels more of a chore when it should be a challenge, especially as they rarely add information which is even remotely interesting. The audio logs are the most engaging, however finding the numerous toys dotted around the levels is literally pointless. As there are no Xbox achievements attached to hunting them down either, you’ll really be questioning the point of them. Infact, there are no achievements attached to the single player campaign at all which is another very strange decision.
The effect of this means you’ll have no desire to explore, especially as the campaign is about as linear as it gets. The environments are designed very much with just getting you from A to B, with the constant waypoints leaving no room for uncertainty. It would have been good to see your single player progress benefit your options in multiplayer, but alas there is no synergy between the modes in any way whatsoever.
The gameplay starts basic, and stays basic for the most part. You’ll briefly get to play as each member of the squad for different sequences, but there’s nothing here you haven’t experienced before. The very last chapter changes things up slightly but it’s too little too late by then. It’s not awful, but it’s relentlessly mediocre.
Throughout the campaign the dialogue isn’t too bad, but ill thought out. Characters will cut each other off (and even themselves) as you press on before they’ve finished their lines. Not only this, but any sense of mystery is ruined by those pesky waypoints dictating your every move at the exact same time your character is pondering which way to go next. The sound mixing is uneven too, with the dialogue often getting drowned out by explosions and gunfire.
CrossfireX may look polished at first glance, but it all falls apart rather quickly. In the multiplayer the animations are jagged and choppy when the action gets going, and the smoke effects especially are laughable at times. At least in single player the cutscenes are decent to look at, even if the story they are telling is somewhat generic. The option to have a cursor to navigate the main menus is pointless (just use the D-Pad). The achievement summaries don’t appear when you unlock them either, instead it just states you’ve unlocked it meaning you’ll have no idea why. There are plenty of rough edges still to be ironed out.
CrossfireX is a strange beast which doesn’t quite fit together. Odd development decisions and a real lack of ambition result in a barely average experience which pales into insignificance when compared to its competitors and previous developer efforts. If it wasn’t for the gift of free online gaming and Xbox Game Pass, this would most likely sink without a trace.
CrossfireX can be obtained from the Xbox Store