Skip to main content

CrossfireX’s campaign is a throwback for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare fans

At what point does a game become retro?

That’s a question I found myself asking while playing a demo for CrossfireX, a new first-person shooter from Smilegate Entertainment coming exclusively to Xbox consoles on February 10. Crossfire is either an unknown IP or a legendary franchise, depending on which part of the world you’re in. The original mobile game launched in South Korea in 2007 and slowly gained massive popularity in Asian markets. It would eventually spawn a film, TV series, and now a full-scale console game.

CrossfireX Launch Date Reveal

CrossfireX is a brand new game, but the slice of its campaign I played still feels distinctly 2007. As I played, I was brought back to the mid-2000s era where games were still figuring out how to break the rules of digital storytelling. That makes it feel like a “retro” experience, depending on what era of games you grew up in.

Classical shooter

CrossfireX is a fairly traditional first-person shooter. Players shoot guns, toss grenades, and sneak up on enemies to get a quick melee knife kill. The main thing that sets it apart from other shooters is its concentration system. When pressing the right bumper, time slows down, allowing players to take out waves of enemies with ease. Despite slowing time, it actually keeps the game’s pace up. I never felt like I had to duck behind cover to wait out gunfire. Instead, I could always shoot first and ask questions later.

A player shoots at two enemies in CrossfireX.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Other than that little trick, gunplay feels classical. As I wiped out waves of vague bad guys by shooting explosive barrels, I thought about how timeless the experience felt. I’ve done this thousands of times at this point, but I still get satisfaction from popping headshots, just like I’ll always have fun playing a new 2D Mario game (though one is a little more violent, admittedly).

The story is split up into two separate campaigns, both of which were developed by Control studio Remedy Entertainment. In my demo, I was able to play Chapter 1 of Operation Catalyst and up to Chapter 3 of Operation Spectre. That’s where the word “retro” really began to worm its way into my head.

The campaign feels pulled out of the mid-2000s, before games like The Last of Us set the template for modern game storytelling. There’s a vague global conflict, a squad of indistinguishable tough guys, and some stilted voice-over that provides exposition and internal monologue in equal measure. Operation Catalyst is more standard 2000s military game fare, with a soldier shooting his way through dilapidated buildings, while Spectre leans more into modern warfare, complete with pesky drones to shoot down.

A player causes an explosion by shooting in CrossfireX.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Modern Warfare” is a fitting term, because the snippets I played remind me of shooters like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Like that game, there’s a series of seemingly interconnected storylines happening between the two campaigns. CrossfireX even has players swapping between characters in sequences. At the end of Chapter 1 in Operation Catalyst, my character was captured and tied to a chair. Suddenly, I switched over to a sniper on top of a building across from him. I sniped my own captor and shot the cuffs off my character. Then I was swapping between both perspectives, with the first character running down the building to escape and the sniper shooting off incoming enemies. It was a thrilling sequence that reminded me of Call of Duty’s best missions.

The retro shooter

It all feels like a bit of a throwback for those who grew up with a PS3 instead of an NES. Downgrade the visuals and you might mistake it for a long-lost 2007 shooter. So once again, I find myself asking: At what point does a game become retro?

Is this Modern Warfare style of set piece-driven linear action games “old school” at this point? To me, it still feels modern (my sense of time is absolutely busted at this point and 2007 still feels like it was five years ago). But someone who played mid-2000s Call of Duty games as a teen might find CrossfireX to be a welcome blast from the past, in the same way that indie games like Shovel Knight successfully play on my 2D nostalgia. “Retro” is a fluid concept in gaming that’s not owned by one generation.

Guards stand around a hostage in CrossfireX,
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For those who miss the days where shooters had lots of firefights and little to say, CrossfireX should satiate that hunger, even if it lacks some personality thus far. It’s a fast-paced game with snappy gunplay, promising action sequences, and an intriguing, intersecting story. As soon as I finished the demo, I found myself browsing Game Pass for some Xbox 360-era shooters to play. I was eager to keep living in a simple past that didn’t require much brainpower beyond quick reaction time.

CrossfireX launches on February 10 for Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. It’ll feature two single-player campaigns and a multiplayer mode at launch.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II will add ranked modes next year
Players battling in Modern Warfare II.

Developer Treyarch Studios announced that Ranked Play will come to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II at an unspecified date in 2023.

The developer confirmed that Ranked Play will include multiple competitive modes and ranked skill divisions, along with the ability to see your skill rating. Modern Warfare II will also have a top 250 leaderboard, and will offer competitive rewards, which have yet to be revealed.

Read more
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II doesn’t let Xbox or PC players disable crossplay
Characters facing forwards in Modern Warfare II screenshot.

Players booting up the Xbox and PC versions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II are discovering that the option to disable crossplay doesn't exist in-game. PlayStation players can freely toggle the option.

Crossplay has become an almost universal feature for multiplayer-focused titles. The Call of Duty franchise remains one of the biggest multiplayer titles in the world, and has been supporting crossplay for multiple entries now, so it came as no surprise that this year's Modern Warfare II would also allow players on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC to compete with or against one another. However, with the game's full release, Xbox and PC users have discovered that they are unable to choose not to be matched up with players on other platforms.

Read more
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’s physical disc doesn’t actually include the game
Players in helicopter in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

Call of Duty fans who bought a physical edition of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II are learning that the disc that comes with it doesn't actually include the game. Instead, it's a 72MB disc that enables a download of the full game.

According to a report from Eurogamer, fans received physical copies of Modern Warfare II a day before its official release and reported that the disc did not have the game at all. The digital version of the game has 150GB of data, which they had to download to their PlayStation 5 or Xbox consoles instead. The disc that Activision bundled into the box is essentially a download disc.

Read more