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October 2022


Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: Smilegate Entertainment
Release Date: Feb. 10, 2022


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Xbox Series X|S Review - 'CrossfireX'

by Cody Medellin on June 3, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

CrossfireX is a fast-paced free-to-play first-person shooter offering an exhilarating multiplayer experiences and a cinematic campaign that explores the global conflict between the world’s two most formidable private military factions.

The original Crossfire might be an unknown PC game in the West, but in Asia — especially South Korea and China — it was a massive free-to-play hit. It was enough of a hit to spawn a TV series about its esport scene, and there are still talks of turning it into a movie. The game was remade into Crossfire HD for China only, but the team at Smilebit is still looking to broaden the game's appeal. One of the results of this broadening is CrossfireX for the Xbox One and Series X|S, which is a tweaked version of the multiplayer game, complete with two campaign storylines.

It's difficult to actually start playing CrossfireX. The game has been out for a few months, and we've been trying to play it for quite some time, with a local install and through the Xbox Game Pass cloud service on PC and the Xbox Series X. The game has trouble connecting to its own servers. Many of our sessions were spent at the title screen trying to connect, only to be met with a bevy of "unable to connect to the game server" messages. Even when we could connect, we'd sometimes get to the main menu, see a loading circle in the corner, and get booted back to the title screen because the game couldn't accomplish the final steps to make the connection. The only way to get a connection to play the game is to either get lucky or stay persistent and hope you connect and stay stable.

If you were lucky enough to connect and stay connected and fight a menu that decides to experience loading anytime you transfer to it, then you'll be met with three different play modes. Two modes are single-player campaigns, each one telling a story from different sides of the conflict and each one requiring a purchase to play them. Operation Catalyst has you on a mission to rescue a fellow Global Risk squadmate and take down the leader of another private military corporation. Operation Spectre has you play as several different soldiers, with the most interesting being the latest recruit to the PMC Black List; you go through several missions to become their ultimate soldier.

One positive thing about the campaigns is that they're both mercifully short, at around three hours each. You can easily knock them out in a weekend. That sounds like a reverse form of praise, considering that the campaigns for other military shooters usually lament a running time of six hours, but with the way everything is handled here, spending less time with the game is preferable.

One of those fumbles comes from the stories being told. Much has been made of Remedy Entertainment being in charge of these campaigns, since the studio dabbles in storylines that challenge convention and make strange things utterly fascinating with equally intriguing characters.

Very little of that is present here. You have a protagonist who's suffering from a mental vision that can't be explained and a supercomputer that can predict the future, but none of that leads to anything. They are mentioned but never expanded upon. Every character fits the military archetype we've seen in countless games for over a decade, but none of them do anything to make themselves memorable, aside from spouting tired dialogue. Each campaign also ends abruptly, so those willing to see them through to the end get no satisfaction out of the experience. Other generic shooters try to gratify players for reaching the credits, so to see CrossfireX not provide that courtesy twice is infuriating for those who enjoy campaigns in military shooters.

Story aside, the gameplay mechanics don't do the title any favors. The controls are exactly what's expected, but the shooting often feels loose and inaccurate. No matter what weapon you wield, nothing feels accurate. The enemy AI lacks intelligence; the only thing that all four enemy types know how to do is run out exposed and see if they can shoot you before you do the same to them. The "bullet time" mechanic is awesome, but it refills quickly enough that it's feasible to go through a huge swath of the game with that feature enabled. You have the ability to regenerate health, but the refill occurs so quickly when you're behind cover that you're essentially invincible unless you are careless. All of this makes the game lack challenge, even on the hardest difficulty.

As disappointing as the campaigns are, the focus of CrossfireX is on the multiplayer, and that's where the real disappointment begins. The modes are split into three categories with their own sub-modes. Modern mode has modern shooter mechanics, from vaulting to aiming down sights to sprinting, but melee means bringing out your melee weapon instead of the quick attack in the campaign. This mode contains a Search & Destroy mode, which acts like Counter-Strike in that you're either planting or defusing a bomb. Point Capture tries to play like a territory mode, where you need to capture and hold areas on the map to get points. You can more easily reach the 150-point goal by treating this like a big deathmatch instead of playing strategically. Also, while the mode's lone map is neat in that you'll need to escape the building and fight at a lower level halfway through the match, the gimmick gets old quickly because there are no variations (e.g., starting at the lower level or the building not blowing up).

Classic mode brings things back to the original iteration of the game. A proper Team Deathmatch mode is available, with the goal to hit 100 kills first. Search and Destroy, along with a variation called Spectre, features one team with melee weapons and stealth suits. Players can play as both sides during a match. Finally, there's Extra mode, which is more of a testing ground for new maps, but whether they go into rotation is a different story. Currently, this mode offers one map in Team Deathmatch played with either the Modern or Classic mechanics. It's neat if they change the featured map often.

Half of these modes only feature a maximum of two maps. Some of the other modes feature one map. With roughly seven maps in total, it doesn't take long before you've seen everything the game has to offer. The maps are quite tiny, with only a few pathways to plan your attacks from. Some maps are one slightly open arena with debris all around. What makes these maps more disappointing is that it's easy to reach the enemy spawn point. Since the safeguards for each base can easily be avoided and there's only one spawn point for enemies, camping is a huge problem.

The bad gun mechanic that plagues the campaigns are also present in multiplayer, but perhaps amplified since you're playing against real players instead of unintelligent AI. The lack of any aim assists makes hip shooting wildly inaccurate, and firefights often devolve into spray-and-pray bouts. Luck plays a big factor, since you'll fight the controls to get off most shots. Guns don't display much power, and different weapons don't feel too distinct from one another, except for the bullet output aspect. Even if you come to grips with the stick sensitivity and compensate for it, it doesn't fix the fact that the shooting fails to feel satisfying.

If there is a positive to this, it would be the performance. Despite the issues with connecting to the game, the matches we played had no hint of lag. We never dropped out of the game due to network instability, and we never had characters warping around. At the very least, they nailed one of the more important aspects of the game that a few other titles still struggle with.

CrossfireX is a free-to-play game, so the multiplayer portion features two different currencies. One type is earned by playing games and doing basic things, like completing daily missions, winning matches, and not disconnecting. You can use the currency to buy different guns and weapon attachments, and since the cost isn't tremendously high, you aren't going to spend a tremendous amount of time grinding to get what you want. However, the fact that you can buy this currency with real money places this in the dreaded "pay to win" category, since you can buy some of the more powerful guns almost immediately. The other currency can only be obtained with real money, and like many modern free-to-play games, it's all used for the Season Pass and cosmetics, like character and gun skins. Unless you need to get an ornate gun or another generic soldier archetype, you'll be fine without buying this currency.

The presentation is fine for a free-to-play title. The environments look decent, but the thought of going through another disheveled battleground isn't exciting. The texture work is nice enough, as are the character models and animations, especially when you get a kill and see a headset flying from your opponent. The effects also look decent, and it is fascinating to see two game engines nail a cohesive look. As for the sound, the music falls in line with what you'd expect from any modern military shooter, while the voice work is in the same boat. It works but is far from memorable.

CrossfireX is a mess. If you manage to connect to a server and can deal with a menu that becomes sluggish after every game, you'll find an experience that is dulled by bad design decisions. From a pair of lackluster campaigns to a pittance of maps and modes, there's not much to work with. Combined with tiny maps and shooting mechanics that don't feel good, the shooter is only appealing if you only play free-to-play titles, only care for modern military shooters, don't care for Call of Duty: Warzone, and don't have the Xbox Game Pass.

Score: 2.5/10

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