You know by now what Remedy does, and what Remedy does well – and so, I reckon, do Remedy themselves. I don’t think anyone looks to the Finnish developer of the likes of Max Payne, Alan Wake and Control looking for too much by way of nuance. Instead, you go to Remedy if you want to see things blow up, and blow up good.
And in CrossfireX, despite a shift from Remedy’s traditional third-person gunplay to first-person, things blow up mighty fine. You probably know the premise by now, even if you’re not one of the one billion players already who’s already played the original Crossfire (and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re not – while hugely popular in Asia, it’s never really caught on in the west). This is a single-player exploration of the Crossfire universe, granting you storylines from both sides of the ongoing conflict between mercenary groups Black List and Global Risk.
Yes, this isn’t the most colourful or characterful world – Crossfire’s universe is, it seems from first acquaintance, blandly militaristic, with protagonists cast from familiar moulds. The single-player demo Microsoft is showing off sees you playing as Luiz Torres, a petty thief who gets a lucky break as the prison van he’s being transported in is up-ended and you make a run for freedom. What follows is a very Call of Duty-esque brand of first-person action, but done with spades of Remedy style.
You find yourself shooting through the hallways of a hospital in a fictional south American town, with Remedy’s Northlight Engine doing its very best to make that all not quite so drab as it sounds. The muzzle flash from your weapons is almost blinding, even more so when you activate Combat Breaker, CrossfireX’s take on the studio’s by-now-compulsory bullet time. The ability is available on a short timer, and when it’s in flow the effects work is staggering.
CrossfireX’s knowingly hokey take on Call of Duty’s action doesn’t break new ground – the short demo we saw was a succession of breezy shooting galleries with enemies downed with satisfying ease, complete with mobs standing around red generators that are inviting you to blow them up. But when they blow up they do it Remedy style, in a blinding flash of particles and light. Later there’s a turret-esque section as you ride on the back of an ambulance through the storm-lashed and wartorn town, which offers the perfect excuse for an absolute dervish of effects work.
It adds up to a very traditional, very old school and very, very stylish brand of first-person action that suggests Remedy has made the transition to first-person deftly – and despite the shift in perspective, there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a Remedy game. Because when things go bang in CrossfireX, they go bang real good.