CrossfireX Hands On

CrossfireX has suddenly dropped out of nowhere, like a grenade-shaped lead balloon falling from the sky. We played a multiplayer beta way back in 2020, before the game disappeared for over a year. Since its re-appearance we've been keen to try out Remedy's campaign mode, especially after the developer's fantastic sci-fi shooter, Control. Well, get ready to go back to a time where every shooter was crafted with three shades of brown, and every military dude had a gruff, cockney accent.

CrossfireX Operation Catalyst, the campaign that (should be) available on Xbox Game Pass, starts out with a gung-ho shootout in a rooftop hotel; after the introductory cutscene anyway. The good news is that Remedy's solid first person shooting mechanics are evident right away, something that makes the whole thing a bit more enjoyable. They're arcadey, sure, and you'll snap onto enemies like nobody's business, but gunplay feels good overall, especially in performance mode on Xbox Series X. Seriously, don't bother with quality mode, 30FPS just feels wrong here.

After this you're dropped into a dream sequence. These sections crop up regularly throughout the game, and they feel like Remedy trying to add a bit of flair to a fairly bland shooter. Each scene tries to flesh out main character Hall's backstory, but they end up serving as little more than a break from repeated corridor shootouts.

CrossfireX dream

Speaking of which, once the first dream sequence is over you get a real idea of what Operation Catalyst is going for. You're dropped into a fictional Eastern European nation, 'Azkharzia', with the aim of finding out what the enemy is up to. Yeah... we already forgot the enemy faction name it's that generic. Anyway, it turns out they're up to no good, and you've got to find out exactly what that entails.

The next few hours play out exactly as you'd expect a CoD clone to play out. You follow a bloke through tight alleyways, crumbling buildings and terrorist-filled villages. There'll be skirmishes along the way, which again, are propped up by solid gunplay. Sometimes you'll be covered by a sniper as you sneak around, other times you'll do the covering. Oh, and there's your token "you take the guy on the left" stealth segment.

CrossfireX hotel

What drags this down a peg or two further, is the samey nature of it all. If you've played an Xbox 360 era military shooter you've played this campaign before. It's not just that though. At least Call of Duty, and most of its clones, would take you on a globe-trotting adventure where there was just about enough environmental variety to keep things interesting.

Here, that's not the case. The majority of Operation Catalyst takes place in one general area, with some underground mines thrown in at the end. You'll even rewind time and play out similar scenarios as different characters, which here, feels like it's purely in place to stretch the thing out. Even then, we finished our normal playthrough in under three hours.

CrossfireX Operation Catalyst

And yet, CrossfireX Operation Catalyst is fun in parts. It's like mid-2000s beige comfort food. You know you've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, but the shirt still fits even if it's more than a little tired. The campaign is very polished too. Character models, in cutscenes especially, look great, and the environments look good enough, if a little fake. You sorta know you're on-rails the whole time and things are very controlled, but the view beyond ain't half bad.

Remedy's signature 'bullet time' mechanic is present, and that adds another bit of flair to proceedings. Time slows down, the scene darkens, and all your bullets sorta warp and seemingly lock onto targets. It's a way to mix gunfights up, but they're that easy anyway you won't need to use it. In fact, it feels like a cheat code, although that's sort of the point, right?

CrossfireX characters

The dream sequences, and the bullet time mechanic, are like tiny little glimpses into what Remedy could have built. Sadly, they're both tacked onto a generic, 'auto-pilot' shooter and the bland, uninteresting world makes you question why either exist. There's solid gunplay and visuals in here, and that makes for some enjoyment, but we're left wondering what Remedy could have spent its time creating instead.

Have you gone hands-on with CrossfireX yet? What are your thoughts so far? Let us know below.