PC PlayStation 5 Video Games

“Crossfire: Sierra Squad” Hands-On Preview


While the modern military first-person shooter CrossfireX was an unmitigated disaster (hence its prominent place on my Worst Video Games Of 2022 list), the good people at Smilegate are not giving up on this series. After all, the original Crossfire is still big, especially in China and South Korea. Maybe that’s why Smilegate are bringing the series to VR with Crossfire: Sierra Squad, which will be released for PlayStation VR2 on August 29th, and later for Oculus and SteamVR.

And it’s because of the game’s impending release that, this week, some of those good people at Smilegate — who, for the record, are the not the people who made CrossfireX — came to Los Angeles to let game journalists have some hands-on time with the PSVR2 version of the game.

Note: The screenshots in this preview were provided by Smilegate, and not from my playthrough of the game.

Crossfire Sierra Squad

Like every game in this series,

Crossfire: Sierra Squad is a lot like the Modern War installments of Call Of Duty if those modern military shooters were influenced more by Black Hawk Down than anything Michael Bay’s ever done.

As for Crossfire: Sierra Squad, my time with it started in the shooting gallery, which is where you get to try out every weapon in the game, though against stationary targets, and not, as I was hoping, against a steady stream of wooden ducks with targets on their sides.

It’s also where people new to Crossfire: Sierra Squad can learn how the suit-based inventory system works. At any given time, you have a primary weapon hanging off your chest, as well as one holstered behind each shoulder. Grabbing any of these weapons, which you have to do by moving your hands (well, the controllers), causes you to reholster your previous weapon in its original slot.

That said, while you will occasionally find a gun just lying around where any little kid could grab it, enemies do not drop weapons when you kill them. Nor do they drop gold pieces, pieces of armor, magic potions, or any of the other things giant frogs and bugs always have on them in adventure games. But if you do find one, you can use it and leave your regular three holstered. That is, until you switch to one of them, at which point the found weapon will drop to the ground and wait for some unsuspecting child. You monster.

As for the kinds of guns you get to use in Crossfire: Sierra Squad, these include the usual suspects: pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, Gatling guns, grenade launchers, and sniper rifles. You can even, when using the latter, prompt your avatar to hold his breath like you do when you try to headshot some Nazi in Sniper Elite 5.

You also have the option to dual wield pistols, or pair a ballistic shield with a one-handed weapon.

Crossfire Sierra Squad

Along with your guns,

you also have grenades, which you have to grab from a holster on your left forearm, while your right forearm is where you keep a stimpack you’ll need when you get hurt. Though supplies of both are limited. In the case of the grenades, you can only have 3, and of the same kind (frag, impact, or sticky), while you only ever have 1 stimpack, though it is replenished over time.

Oh, and though the grenades look small when they’re on your arm, they’re actually regular size, and pack a regular sized punch…as I found out when I dropped one on my foot.

The funny thing being, when I later asked if there was friendly fire in the game, one of the Smilegate people (and I don’t know who because, well, I was wearing a VR helmet) said something along the lines of, “No. Not with bullets anyway,” by which they meant that while you can blow up teammates with grenades, they don’t get hurt if you shoot them.

Now, being a VR game, all of these items in Crossfire: Sierra Squad — grenades, the stimpack, and your guns — require motion controls to use. You use one hand to grab a grenade and another to pull the pin, you have to manually stab yourself in the chest with the stimpack to feel better, and have to use both hands to reload your weapon. Though, thankfully, you can’t accidentally jam your gun. Nor do you run out of bullets. Ever.

Having tried out a good variety of weapons, the Smilegate crew then had me move on to Crossfire: Sierra Squad‘s single-player campaign, which consists of 13 story-driven missions. Using what I learned, I followed a fellow soldier onto the streets of a non-descript Middle Eastern town, initially in pursuit of someone who was supposed to help us, and later into a gun battle with numerous enemies.

A battle I handled rather well for a first timer. Double so considering I don’t own a VR system, and only ever play VR games at press events. Even for someone like me taking control of Crossfire: Sierra Squad was easy, as the controls were responsive and intuitive (though years of playing lightgun games might’ve helped).

That said,

if I had it to do all over again, I would’ve switched the turning controls. In Crossfire: Sierra Squad, turning can be done in a natural fashion, or in increments of 8. But while the latter may be good for other VR games, here it felt clumsy and stifling. Especially when some giant guy with a sledgehammer came lumbering my way.

Which reminds me of something else I noticed playing Crossfire: Sierra Squad‘s campaign; it has a good mix of enemy types. While you face tons of normal soldiers, you also have to take on some who tower over you (and who seem to love Gatling guns and sledgehammers), as well as even tougher enemies, as indicated by the color of their health bars.

As for the story, while I didn’t get a sense of it from the little bit I played, the Smilegate gang did tell me that Crossfire: Sierra Squad is set before the events of the original game and CrossfireX, but is not a direct prequel in the way that, say, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare set the stage for Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

Anyway, after beating the first mission, I went back to the shooting gallery so I could buy some new guns and upgrades. While Crossfire: Sierra Squad has a leveling system, you actually earn currency by beating missions, not by leveling up.

Or, you’ll be happy to hear, though microtransactions. There are none in this game.

Crossfire Sierra Squad

Armed with new and upgraded weapons,

it was time to try out the “Squad Missions” mode, which consists of 50 one-off missions, playable solo or two-player co-op, that are objective driven (“clear out this area of all enemies”) as opposed to, say, what you do in a challenge mode (“kill 50 enemies in 3 minutes using only pistols”).

Teaming with one of the Smilegate people, we made our way through someone’s home, removing all trespassers as we went, eventually coming to a courtyard that was infested with bad guys.

Good thing your co-op partner can revive you if you’re down (or, in my case, when). Well, assuming they have a stimpack they can spare.

It was in this mode that I noticed some interesting details. If you have the aforementioned ballistic shield, enemies can still shoot you in the leg, something you can do to them as well. You can also bash them with the shield, just as they can bash you. But while they can also dive out of the way or do a forward roll, you cannot. Though given how much VR headsets cost, this is probably for the best.

The Smilegate people then…

had me go back to the campaign. Except where before I played it on the “Arcade” setting, which they described as being the game’s “Normal,” I was now set loose in “Realism Mode.” Where, much to my chagrin (but not to my surprise), I lasted all of four seconds. It’s really tough.

And, apparently, not even the hardest option for Crossfire: Sierra Squad. In flipping through the options, I noticed one after “Realism” labeled simply “devs couldn’t clear.”

While this was the end of the demo for me, Crossfire: Sierra Squad does have one other way to play: a four-player co-op “Horde Mode” which, the Smilegate people in attendance confirmed, will be like “Horde Mode” in the Gears Of War games. Though they didn’t go any more into it than that.

Now, as you’ve probably gathered, I had a good time playing Crossfire: Sierra Squad. Certainly a much better time than when I played CrossfireX. While this is still a rather generic Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare-ish game, this VR version has much better controls, level designs, and enemies. And since there isn’t a VR version of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare

Crossfire Sierra Squad


we won’t know for sure whether Crossfire: Sierra Squad will be as good as Call Of Duty, or as bad as CrossfireX, until it comes out August 29th (for PSVR2 owners) or later (Oculus and SteamVR). But if the demo I blew my way through is any indication, this could be the revision this series needs.



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