Review: CrossfireX Is Simultaneously Better and Worse Than I Expected

Screenshot: CrossfireX CrossFireX is a bit of a strange game. Its multiplayer component was developed by Smilegate Interactive—the same parent company that made Lost Ark. The single player component of CrossFireX was developed by Remedy. You know: Alan Wake, Control—that Remedy.  But based on what I knew about Crossfire, I wasn’t expecting much for either part—and while I was pleasantly surprised at some aspects, CrossFireX largely met my expectations. CrossFireX is a first person shooter that is a bit of a mash-up between Counterstrike and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. CrossFire started its life as a Counterstrike clone, and that still resides deep in its DNA—but by trying to modernize its gameplay, Smilegate has made a game that reminds me a bit of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare—for its good and its bad. If you haven’t heard of CrossFire before, that’s not surprising. But you might be surprised to hear that it’s one of the most popular first person shooters ever, especially in China, Vietnam and Brazil. So it’s no surprise that the latest big budget entry, CrossFireX managed to snag a studio with a great single player game pedigree to create its campaign—though it’s surprising that it was Remedy that took up the challenge. Screenshot: CrossfireX The entire idea of CrossFire is the terrorist vs counter terrorist dynamic, like you would see in Counterstrike. Except to create an entire global conflict—in fact, an entire game world—around this makes CrossFireX feel like it exists in a vacuum. There isn’t much to suggest there’s even a wider world out there besides this global terrorist/anti-terrorist conflict. CrossFireX takes its theme of terrorist vs. counter terrorist into its single player campaign. Well, both of the campaigns, because to get through the full story you’ll have to play through the perspective of a Global Risk operative, and then later as a Blacklist terrorist—though a mostly unwitting one. You would think this would give you two viewpoints behind this conflict, but playing as each faction just made the conflict even more baffling. The story itself is a breathless, action-soaked affair that changes perspective between characters often. There is a little bit of Remedy apparent, especially in the dream sequences in the “Catalyst” campaign, but overall it really feels like a game that was made to get a paycheck. If you’ve experienced the loud, globe-stomping Modern Warfare games, you’ll find CrossFireX’s story to be at least told in the same bombastic way. There is a bit more of a sci-fi twist, however, with the second episode “Spectre” paying off in a satisfying way that also pays homage to CrossFire’s multiplayer mode. Screenshot: CrossfireX I wish there was something more to elevate CrossFireX’s single player beyond corridor shooter. There are a few collectibles to keep an eye out for, but CrossFireX is an almost non-stop series of hallways and rooms full of dudes to shoot at. The weapons in single player feel so much better than multiplayer, but even with a pretty large variety, all of the guns end up feeling same-y. Arguably, CrossFireX’s most important component is its multiplayer. One of CrossFireX’s selling points is how it’s an optimized AAA shooter for consoles, but I wouldn’t consider CrossFireX the most optimized. Sure, it runs great on my Xbox Series X in single player, but when playing multiplayer matches it almost feels like an entirely different game. Screenshot: CrossfireX There are two main ways you can play multiplayer—in its Classic mode, which feels more like Counterstrike without the ability to sprint or aim down sights, and its “Modern” mode which plays a lot more like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Right now, there isn’t much in the way to do in Modern Mode. As of this writing there are two game modes, and a third that is “coming soon.”  In Modern mode you can play “Search and Destroy,” which acts like Counterstrike’s mode where you have to plant or defuse C4. There is no respawning in this mode. There’s also a point capture mode that allows respawning. While I went in thinking I’d play “Modern” more often, I ended up spending most of my time with “Classic.” I especially loved its “Spectre” game mode, which has one team playing as invisible, knife-wielding Spectres versus a team of more conventional make-up (i.e. visible, with guns.) It works a lot like “Search and Destroy” but adds the dynamic of one team being mostly invisible—they’re only visible while moving—and completely invisible while stopped for a moment. The rest of Classic has modes that are more familiar, like a Team Deathmatch mode. Screenshot: CrossfireX There are also lots of things that incentivize taking part in CrossFireX’s multiplayer, along with a fair amount of microtransactions. The way you unlock items in CrossFireX’s multiplayer is through earning GP, which you can do through playing matches. You can earn GP even faster by completing missions. There are free missions, and missions you can purchase with the premium currency. There are also a boatload of cosmetics to buy with premium currency, if that’s your thing. While I was hoping CrossFireX’s single player would be brilliant thanks to Remedy’s involvement, it’s just a run-of-the-mill corridor shooter. It does manage some impressive visuals and pretty fun gunplay, but the guns all feel pretty similar. Its multiplayer component is competent, and I spent a dozen happy hours in its Classic mode—but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’m just playing Counterstrike on console—which isn’t horrible.   CrossFireX is available on Xbox Series X|S.         An Xbox Series X|S key was provided to us for this review.
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.