I admittedly wince when I hear “Crossfire”. I did not like CrossfireX, and given this is from the same universe, you tend to worry. That said, everyone deserves a second chance, and being this game is a PSVR2 one, the change of scenery can do it good. After some time under the helmet (so to speak), Crossfire: Sierra Squad might not redeem the mistakes of its predecessor, but it’s a fun time for those looking to empty a mag or two from point A to B.
Starting off, Crossfire: Sierra Squad graciously dumps you into a firing range menu. This is great, because the entire arsenal is right in front of you to get familiar with. When I say everything is available, I mean EVERYTHING. Barret 50. Cal, RPGs, grenades, a smorgasbord of submachine guns and assault rifles, and of course, a flipping minigun. By the way, make sure you fire the minigun without putting your other hand in position to steady it; some serious Looney-Toons level stuff will occur. You’ll thank us later.
This is where you’ll figure out all of the gameplay mechanics, and they’re about what you’d expect. Holding a gun is as simple as pulling your right trigger, although the continual grip can be tiring (that’s really a regular issue with VR shooters). Smilegate has also decided to make things as “VR-ified” as possible, with manual reloading and chucking grenades. In this environment it’s great, without a lot of serious stakes.
After you’ve finally had your fill (that might take like an hour, there were three of us and we had too much fun joshing around), you’ll proceed to the menus. Be forewarned, you cannot use weapons anymore once it projects onto the firing range. On it are quite a few options, but each one comes with its own opportunities and limitations. There’s a single-player story mode, a two player squad mode, and a horde mode for up to four. It’s sad to see such limitations, but it’s understandable given how each level is built.
Let’s just say that Crossfire: Sierra Squad is about as arcade as you can get. All of the missions remind me of playing things like a Terminator cabinet or Time Crisis, sans virtual quarters. They aren’t on rails, but things can feel that way, with super tight spaces and small environments designed to funnel you down a very familiar track, each with coordinated stop points to maximize the opportunity to bring in pre-ordained hordes of enemies. Even the enemies function like an on-rails shooter, with that wacky run and similar paths that you’d see, like RPG wielders in power positions on roofs and not being able to move forward until taking out all of them. They’re also braindead beyond chasing you down like their lives depend on it, so your method to win is simply sit back and shoot.
Pushing further into the storyline (there are SIXTY-THREE levels in all) has developer Smilegate Entertainment leaning further into the absurd and arcade setup. More often, doors slam behind you only to set up fights where big boss enemies are literally choppered into position, pushing you and your partner to scramble in the small corridors. Ultimately these ebb and flow, with long stretches of disposable foes punctuated with battles and over-the-top bosses. At the end, you’ll be given a score with various stats tracked and sorted, along with the most obnoxious rock n’ roll track you’ve ever heard. You can, of course, go back and time-attack them for a better score, but beyond that there’s little reason to return – the story certainly isn’t going to do that.
We’ve got to talk about the voiceover work in Sierra Squad. Our resident real-world military veteran, EiC Ron Burke, was wincing with every over-chewed scene being even more overacted than the last. Filled to bursting with overused tropes, the voice actors are doing their best, but even they don’t sound like they believe it. That said – we’ve gotta talk about firepower.
While the story and writing are groan-worthy, the weapons are absolutely magnificent. Either the team at Smilegate captured and reproduced the real-world sounds of each of these weapons, or they at least visited the range. Other recent PSVR2 shooters have disappointed with their anemic weapon sounds, but wow did they knock this element out of the park. In the real world, when someone fires the M82A1, everyone else sits up a little straighter in their chair. It’s great to see that reproduced here.
Speaking of weaponry, there’s honestly a lot of it here. There is one caveat though; you have to earn it. That said, I’m happy with that – it’s a fair trade-off when these are only purchasable with in-game money you get when completing missions. There are even attachments and perks you can get, all a part of the grind, but reasonable and engaging in this current system.
I think the biggest issue in Crossfire: Sierra Squad is at least a perceived lack of content. It’s not that we don’t have a lot to work with in terms of variety. While the missions are fun (like an early squad one where you can’t see through the snow and need to pick up a gun with a thermal scope), they can be bland at points. Given it’s a lot of move forward, shoot the duders, move forward, it gets sluggish. What really feels like it’s missing is some form of PVP multiplayer. I’m not exactly sure how it would work, but it could liven up some of the deadness you get out of the AI.
The issues Crossfire: Sierra Squad runs into aren’t dire in any case. This is still a game technically in early access (at least according to the Steam designation), so there is plenty of time for Smilegate to mold this into a killer app for the PSVR2 and PC. For the moment, it’s fun to blow off steam with, but doesn’t get much further than that.
David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.