Remedy Entertainment has a storied relationship with Xbox, dating all the way back to Alan Wake on the Xbox 360. After a short follow-up to that title, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, and 2016’s Quantum Break, it had seemed that the relationship between the two firms had stagnated. Control, Remedy’s most recent title, was a multiplatform release with PlayStation marketing and perks. However, unlike the Bungies and Epics of the world, Remedy has returned to the Xbox family with two exclusive CrossfireX campaigns. However, are they up to the standards of Remedy’s past or is this campaign better off M.I.A.?
War! What is it Good for?
CrossfireX is an interesting game. As we mentioned in our multiplayer review, the game itself is actually split in three. There is the multiplayer, which is frankly atrocious and not worth a single ounce of your time or money. Then there are the two campaigns, which may as well be different games. They are by a different developer, made in a different engine (Remedy’s proprietary Northlight vs. Unreal), they look different, they play different, hell, they even come in different launchers. The bright side of all this is that CrossfireX’s campaign is mercifully untouched by the stench of the multiplayer. But is it good? Well… kinda.
CrossfireX’s campaign is split into two games: Operation Catalyst and Operation Spectre, with a third one implied to be on the way. The former of these is included in Game Pass (although due to a software bug, it took an update to be added). The latter retails for around $10 USD, less any Game Pass discount.
For the price, you get around 2 hours of content per campaign, with collectibles available for those who want to 100%. You can unlock a harder difficulty on another round as well. So, based on offering alone, the value proposition is not awful here for a new release title, even if there are undeniably better ways to spend your money.
However, in order to be worth the money, a game has to be good and thankfully, I’m largely of the opinion that these campaigns are. I have heard some reviewers compare the mode to notorious flops Rogue Warrior and Ride to Hell and I genuinely question if we played the same game. While not great by any stretch of the imagination, what is here strikes me as fairly harmless for a budget title.
This Gun’s for Hire…
With all of this being said, there is a distinct lack of Remedy’s signature magic within this game. Beginning with the gameplay, the two campaigns play almost identically with the same weapons, abilities, etc. It’s all fairly standard for the genre and has an almost “Great Value” brand style to it, evocative of better titles such as Call of Duty and Wolfenstein. Still, the game to its credit controls well and buttons are fully remappable, two things that most certainly cannot be said about the multiplayer.
The game itself does look very good, with strong texture work and lighting. You can play in 30fps “Quality” mode which features raytracing, but my strong recommendation is to play the raytracing-less performance mode, which hits a solid 60fps.
With the right bumper, you can slow the action to a crawl temporarily to take out enemies and watch stuff fly. This is the one area where Remedy’s touch is felt, as the crazy particle effects make for a fun visual feast. This does come at the cost of making the game easier, however, so use with caution.
I can count the bugs I encountered on one hand, and none of them were major in the slightest. The only area where the game is really lacking in the gameplay department is in the AI, which can suffer from stormtrooper aim and doesn’t always take full advantage of cover. This makes the game rather easy, even on the higher difficulties.
Everything else here, from the gunplay to the levels, to the setpieces are unremarkable and linear, but far from bad. The whole effort from a gameplay point of view feels very workmanlike, a surprising result given the pedigree involved, but not something overly offensive in any capacity.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Both campaigns feature unique stories, characters and settings with some minor overlap between the two. They tell the story of two private military factions: Global Risk, a group of Cobra Commander looking blokes and Black List, a squad of GI Joe looking fellas/ Except this time, supposedly Cobra are the good guys, it’s kinda hard to follow.
The first, Operation: Catalyst, takes place from the Global Risk side of the conflict. It tells the story of a squad of soldiers who infiltrate a fictional nation to stop an armed conflict but end up way over their heads. When it turns out an ally of theirs is very much alive and in Black List custody, it’s their job to rescue him and find out exactly what the enemy is planning.
The story here is very simple, and generic, but Remedy brings a few of their signature wtf moments to keep things interesting. A series of visions our hero endures are brought to life in the signature Remedy style. The voice acting here is fine, the themes are minimal, the characters ok. It’s all just… well, fine.
The second, Operation: Spectre, is where things start to go off the rails. Told from the Black List point of view, after infiltrating Global Risk headquarters, agent Logan is tasked with extracting a man named Torres who upper management believes may be a prime candidate for becoming The Ghost, a prophesized hero to save Black List. Of course, Torres, as it turns out, doesn’t want to be The Ghost, but an uneasy alliance with Logan and the black List may end up changing his mind.
The story here is a jumbled mess of nonsense that is as easy to follow as a Bond movie played on 2x speed, reversed. It makes zero sense, characters motivations are insanely inconsistent, even the voice acting here is far rougher (although Susannah Fielding who plays Amy Simpson in Forza Horizon does get to kick some ass here in a fun role). However, the levels are more aesthetically varied and arguably better than the ones in Catalyst, and the setpieces more exciting, so you take the good with the bad here.
We Already Have Call of Duty at Home!
Ultimately, CrossfireX’s single-player suite just sort of feels like the punchline in a “We already have X at home” meme, more specifically Call of Duty. It doesn’t do a ton special, it’s not very Remedy-like and it’s fairly generic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad game. There are just plenty of far better first-person shooters on Game Pass alone, and many more to come, especially once the Activision-Blizzard deal closes.
The best way I can put it is like this: CrossfireX’s single-player is like a firework. It’s flashy, quick, loud, pretty, with some excitement and it fizzles out very quickly. There are better ways to spend your money, but there are worse too. Ultimately, what’s here won’t set the world on fire, and you’ll probably forget it very quickly, but there is some enjoyment to be had in the moment, so maybe give Catalyst a shot on Game Pass. However, with Remedy involved, is it wrong to have expected a little bit more?
Played on an Xbox Series X. CrossfireX released on February 10th, 2022. CrossfireX’s campaign was finally released on Game Pass 5 days later.