Review – CrossfireX
We all know that Microsoft likes to over-hype their exclusives. Whenever a brand new game is bound to be released exclusively for the Xbox family of consoles, they make sure to remind us with almost an entire month worth of ads, presentations and previews. That has happened even to some of their more mediocre outings, such as the 1.0 release of Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3. Hell, they even make sure to over-hype the release of a new color palette for their controllers. So when a brand new Xbox exclusive is bound to be released and Phil’s gang doesn’t utter a word about it, something must be wrong. Either an intern had managed to delete the Dropbox file featuring the entire marketing campaign, or the game is so bad nobody wants to end up being linked to it. CrossfireX is a clear case of the latter.
CrossfireX is, apparently, Microsoft’s attempt at appealing to Korean and Chinese audiences. You may have never heard of the the Crossfire franchise (I certainly hadn’t prior to this game’s first announcement), but this might actually be the single most played gaming franchise not only in Asia, but the entire world. You read that right: the WORLD. Sources estimate that a whopping one billion people have played the game ever since its first release. May I remind you, that is a seventh of this miserable planet’s population. Having a version of said game as a console exclusive is a genius idea, don’t get me wrong. But that means the rest of the world will be exposed to it, and that demographic is used to a different kind of game. As in, one that doesn’t utterly suck.
I am trying to be as professional and polite as possible when writing this review, but there’s no other way of saying it: CrossfireX is bad. It is really bad. Sadly, it’s not the hilarious kind of bad, when a game is so utterly incompetent it becomes almost cathartic to experience it. No, this is the boring, lifeless, joyless kind of bad. The kind of game completely devoid of passion, of art direction, of an interesting concept, and of course, completely devoid of any care and polish. When I say I have had more fun playing shooters like Aliens: Colonial Marines and Medal of Honor: Warfighter than CrossfireX, I am not exaggerating. It just goes to show how miserable it was to experience it.
Let me explain the package being offered by Smilegate, Xbox Studios, and… Remedy Entertainment. CrossfireX is basically two games in one. There is a multiplayer bit, powered by Unreal, and developed by Smilegate, the owners of the IP. The belle of the ball of this package, on the other hand, is the single player campaign, comprised of two halves of one story. Both were developed by Remedy, and run on their proprietary engine, the same one that powers Control. The first half of it is available on GamePass, while the second half of it has to be purchased separately for some damn reason. Upon reading this review, and assuming you trust my opinions on this game, you will realize that paying for this campaign isn’t a wise investment.
Let’s start off by talking about the campaign, which is the most disappointing half of CrossfireX, and at the same time, without a doubt, the best this game has to offer. Think about the most generic Call of Duty campaign you have ever played. Scratch that thought, think about the most generic military shooter campaign in general you have ever played. Was it Battlefield 3? Medal of Honor: Warfighter? Rogue Warrior (although that does qualify as “so bad it’s good”)? CrossfireX outdoes them all by offering a campaign so bland, so devoid of creativity, so utterly mediocre and generic it almost feels like it’s a parody. If that’s the case, then congratulations Remedy, you have successfully tricked me.
The campaign follows the story of a handful of soldiers working for a PMC, sent into a random Caucasian nation to capture a war criminal. Shenanigans ensue, bullets are fired, clichés happen, terrible voice acting is uttered, and, of course, being a Remedy game, random and unnecessary instances featuring live-action footage are thrown into the mix because why the hell not. Those weird, uncanny dream segments were a slog, but also the only moderately interesting aspect of what was otherwise a painfully mediocre campaign, riddled with every single military shooter cliché on the book.
You hear officials telling the Hispanic guy in the team to open the door or check a nearby wall, just like CoD used to do. You are also told to quietly shoot one of two soldiers while your teammate shoots the other during a stealth section, copying Modern Warfare 2 verbatim. What about dealing against a sniper by grabbing an oddly convenient RPG and blasting half of the building where the son of a gun is hiding at? You got all of these clichés… on the first forty-five minutes or so of gameplay. I can’t tell you how boring everything was in this campaign, from the uninteresting characters, to the bad voice acting, and of course, the dumb, Michael Bay-esque set pieces that felt dated back in 2011, let alone 2022.
The “combat” itself wasn’t terrible, but nothing spectacular, either, being a carbon copy of any given Call of Duty game being released during the late Xbox 360 era, just running at a higher, but very uneven, framerate. The problem with the gameplay was that the AI was so utterly brain dead, even on a high difficulty setting, that I didn’t even bother looking for cover or trying to attempt any tactical military approach. Hell, I was playing this game more aggressively than in Doom Eternal, for the characters in here were less intelligent than the undead soldiers in iD Software’s game. I wasn’t even aiming down sights; just waltzing through corridors, pressing the right trigger on occasion to get right of any random Eastern European terrorist in shorts speaking shockingly good English.
Remedy’s proprietary engine is really good, but I don’t think it was used to its full potential for this campaign. It isn’t hideous, but it’s not what we should expect from a next-gen shooter, especially one coming from two publishers with nearly infinite amounts of money. Battlefield 4 looked better than this, and with better level design. The sound design, on the other hand, is just plain bad. I’ve already talked about the really bad voice acting, but the sound effects don’t fare much better. When a gun’s firing sound reminds me of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher“‘s drum intro instead of, well, an actual gun, you know something ain’t right.
Yet, this boring, lifeless, joyless, meaningless campaign was a lot more interesting to tackle than the multiplayer mode, the “true Crossfire experience”. My goodness, this freaking multiplayer. I’ve played some bad shooters back in the day, but this is just unacceptably dull and janky. For starters, the menu’s framerate stutters like crazy. Yes, the MENU’S FRAMERATE. You can only imagine how bad things get when you drop into the game itself. I was also constantly greeted with friendly reminders to spend my hard-earned cash on CrossfireX‘s microtransaction storefront, in a borderline aggressive manner. I hadn’t even joined a single match, and I was already at the thought of deleting CrossfireX from my SSD altogether.
Upon failing to find a match a few times, I finally joined a server, and was greeted with the dumbest CSGO clone I have ever seen. Is this the game a seventh of the world is a fan of? For real? Between the terrible map design, the poor performance, and the fact the control scheme and physics are inspired by Call of Duty, not the much faster Counter-Strike, there was absolutely nothing to like in CrossfireX‘s multiplayer. The gameplay felt like a mix of two completely different games that just don’t blend well together. The framerate can’t catch a break. And to make matters worse, when you die, you gotta wait for the end of the round before re-entering the arena. Because dealing with poor controls wasn’t bad enough, you need to wait a minute before being thrown into this hellhole of a multiplayer mode once more.
CrossfireX is a really bad military shooter. It’s most certainly worse than whatever bottom-of-the-barrel Call of Duty clone was being released at a weekly basis back in 2009. The fact that its aggressively bland campaign is, by far, the best part of the package says a lot about the overall quality of what this game has to offer. A multiplayer mode so clunky and so hell-bent on making you spend money on microtransactions to a beyond degree, you can’t even play it ironically, in order to make fun of it. Is this supposed to be the game literally a seventh of world plays? If that’s really the case, then someone has to present those billion players any Call of Duty game released after the first Modern Warfare. There’s no way they are worse than CrossfireX.
Two visual styles, two engines being used. The campaign looks decent enough, albeit far from what you would expect from next-gen. The multiplayer graphics look like your mid-2010s generic shooter, and run poorly.
During the main campaign, the controls aren’t terrible, but the overall level design and combat feel beyond dated, and the AI is beyond asinine. The Call of Duty-esque control scheme and physics do not fit well with the Counter-Strike gameplay and level design on multiplayer, resulting in an infuriating, and janky, experience.
Not only is the voice acting beyond uninspired in the campaign mode, but the weapons just don’t sound as they should. When guns remind you of Alex Van Halen’s drumming, something’s not right.
The campaign mode is possibly the single most generic military shooter I have ever played. The multiplayer, on the other hand, might possibly be the least fun I’ve ever had with a shooter in general.
Final Verdict: 4.5
CrossfireX is available now on Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X.
Reviewed on Xbox Series S.