Note: This review includes CrossfireX multiplayer modes. Please see our CrossfireX Single-Player Campaign ReviewLearn more.
CrossfireX’s multiplayer feels like a first-person shooter you might play at a Dave & Buster’s arcade. It’s the kind of thing you would only pay half attention to while you hold a beer in your free hand and keep one eye on the basketball hoops waiting for the children’s birthday party to stop hogging them. It attempts to recreate the classic Counter-Strike experience on console but ends up sounding like a poorly planned, low-budget satirization. There’s a whole array of issues that made every match an agonizing tribulation. It’s chock-full of ill-conceived modes, cringeworthy maps, laughably bad controls, and bizarre bugs that are somehow the best part because they made me laugh during an otherwise extremely depressing time spent playing.
CrossfireX can be traced back to CrossFire 2007, but Smilegate, the developer of CrossFireX, seems to have taken little care to translate that success to the Xbox platform. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the shooting mechanics themselves, which are some of the sloppiest and inaccurate I’ve ever gone into battle with. As your weapons wiggle around from place to place, it is difficult to aim accurately. I have yet to find a setting that makes me feel good. It’s astonishing that a shooter could get something so fundamental as aiming so wrong in 2022.
This is compounded by a bug that causes you to lose your aim-down-sights (ADS), almost every time you fire your weapon. Smilegate has already said it plans to address this bug, but in the days following launch it’s something you’re likely to experience multiple times every single match – and remember, that’s on top of gunplay that already feels pretty awful to begin with.
Of course, the ADS bug isn’t the only issue you’re likely to encounter playing CrossfireX online. I’ve seen all-manner of bizarre bugs in my dozen or so hours with it: one time a menu popped up over my screen and locked me out of controlling my character until the match was over, or the time a ridiculous giant alien spawned in the middle of the map and twitched in and out of reality for the entirety of the match (my teammates and I lovingly named him King Chonkus). The weirdest bug I encountered regularly, though, is the fact that the main menu itself is completely unstable – its framerate hitches all the time and it’s even crashed to the Xbox dashboard altogether a few times. I’m reminded of Halo: The Master Chief Collection at its notorious launch, where a bunch of different experiences made by different teams were forced together all on one menu and UI, which seems to be a good way to make said menu and UI buggy as heck.
In fact, CrossfireX’s interface and navigation is just unacceptable all around, most of the time forcing you to use a mouse cursor that seems like it was ported straight from PC (odd, since this game is currently only available on Xbox) with little thought for how awful that feels. You even have to make use of this during matches, for example while you’re selecting one of the character power-ups to summon into battle, which I can only describe as highly traumatic.
Multiplayer modes in CrossfireX are divided into two equally upsetting buckets: Modern, which add features like the ability to ADS and mantle up ledges, and Classic, which retains all the original design of the PC version of Crossfire where you can’t do any of that fancy stuff. There are only two options for Modern, one with some potential aside from the wonky sandbox it’s built upon and one with almost no recognizable merit whatsoever. The former is Search & Destroy; it’s a classic attack/defend gametype where one team has to plant a bomb while the other tries their best to ensure that doesn’t happen. The claustrophobic city streets and alleys work well to support the game of cat and mouse and, when I wasn’t distracted by the busted gunplay, I was reminded of Counter-Strike, which is great except that then I remembered I could just be playing Counter-Strike instead and not have to put up with CrossfireX’s problems.
Point Capture, by contrast, is a tragically designed game mode that has two teams fighting over control points before the skyscraper they’re in blows up for no reason and the battle moves to the streets below. The skyscraper collapses means that everyone who is fighting in the area dies suddenly, but the building still stands. Point Capture has a major problem. You can easily reach the enemy team’s only spawn point on either side of the map and camp there, killing them immediately. This tactic was used against my inexplicable advantage in almost all of the matches I played. My only recourse was becoming a monster and doing the exact same thing to the enemy teams before they had the chance.
Point Capture has a mechanic that allows you to accumulate points which can be used to spawn in a stronger soldier with special abilities. The first team to summon one can then rush to the enemy spawn point to dominate them relentlessly until the match ends. It’s honestly one of the most mind-boggling design choices I’ve ever beheld. Getting spawn-killed in a game you actually like is already one of the most frustrating experiences out there, but getting caught in a never-ending spawn-kill trap in a game that’s already terrible? Well, that’s enough for me to activate the ejection seat on a helicopter.
Moving over to the Classic modes we find a stripped-down version of Search & Destroy, which is similar, and a few others that vary in their levels of frustration. Spectre is the most exciting of all. This mode pits one side of defending soldiers against an invader team that only has knives and is impossible to see while moving, while being completely invisible while still standing. The slower pace of Spectre makes all the difference as one side’s eyes dart around fearfully in search of invisible ninjas (and probably worrying about the shooting mechanics failing them should they get into a fight), while the other side slowly and methodically moves against the enemy looking to slit throats.
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Team Deathmatch is another mode that’s exactly what it sounds like and which I recommend avoiding at all costs. The map in this mode, similar to Point Capture is horrible and offers tons of chances to either spawn-kill your enemy or kill yourself. Throw in the fact that the map is basically one big hallway and removes all semblance of strategy present in other modes and you’re in for a truly harrowing exercise in first-person shooter misery.
Finally there’s Nano, a mind-bogglingly awful zombie-infection mode where a few players start off as aliens and must try to infect everyone else. Poor design is what baffles and puzzles me. Infected are fast, can infect everyone quickly, respawn infinitely, and must only hit their targets once to convert them. On the other hand, uninfected people have very limited ammo and must shoot an alien dozens of time to kill them. There is little chance they will win. Of course, none of that matters because if the infected side wins (and they always do) everyone is considered a winner since they’re all infected by the time the match ends, making the entire exercise completely pointless. In my time with Nano I only twice saw the uninfected win even a single round: once when a glitch caused one player to fall outside of the map where he couldn’t be infected, and another time where infected players simply refused to play the mode correctly and blocked entryways to protect the survivors instead of infecting their friends. I’ve never seen the uninfected come even close to winning even one round legitimately, which makes me wonder if any of this was playtested at all. Other than now. On us.