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Crossfire: Sierra Squad

Crossfire: Sierra Squad

Written by Eric Hauter on 9/15/2023 for PSVR2  
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The trailers for Crossfire: Sierra Squad tell no lies. Everything you see in the clips can be found in the game. However, watching these trailers you would be forgiven for thinking that Crossfire is a run & gun-style military shooter, with players running through Call of Duty-style levels with their squad, flanking enemies and hurling grenades down into dusty courtyards. And yes, there is a mild amount of flanking and grenade hurling, but what is surprising about Crossfire: Sierra Squad is how small and tight each level in the game really is. You do have some control over the movement of your character; it's just that there's really nowhere to go.

Picture yourself at one end of an alley, hunkered behind a car. At the other end of the alley, there are a few trucks, maybe a building with a ramp leading up onto a balcony. A few explosive barrels dot the surface. Now, you could rush forward to shoot anybody that pops up from behind those trucks or on that roof, but you really don't want to, right? Because as soon as you do, you're gonna get smoked. So you stay behind your car, and clear waves of enemies. Maybe you pivot to another spot for cover. Maybe you advance a little. But mostly you stay put, unloading on anyone foolish enough to pop their head up. Clear out all the dudes, and you get treated to a short bit of story that you don't care about, then it's off to the next level. And that's what Crossfire: Sierra Squad is all about. It's a cover-based shooter, played in very small, contained levels. 

Not that this is a bad thing, it's just not what one expects after seeing the trailers. But once you settle into it, Crossfire: Sierra Squad is a pretty good time. The shooting feels fantastic, there are a mountain of different guns and weapons to play around with, and more levels than just about any other shooter on the market. 

You'll probably start with the single-player campaign, which contains over sixty(!) levels. The game starts with a somewhat strange flow, with the player starting in the tutorial area. The game teaches some basic shooting skills, then sends you off to the first mission. With that complete, the game sends you back to the tutorial area to learn about grenades. Then the second mission starts. Then you back to the tutorial again, to learn about rocket launchers. You get the picture here. Once you understand what's happening, it's fine, but at first I thought I was doing something wrong. I could not understand why Crossfire wouldn't just let me continue on from mission to mission without needing to go back to the tutorial over and over. 

Eventually the game gets out of it's own way and lets you make some progress. With sixty levels, the campaign does offer quite a bit of variety, with some interesting settings and different baddies that come into play. There is a story of sorts that plays out, starring "Terry" the merc and his buddies, who are voiced in a "Oh yeah, my cousin does voices sometimes" kind of way. Most of the story is instantly forgettable, and is only there to tie the various missions together (which is fine). What isn't forgettable is how fun it is to play with all of the game's weaponry.

Being left-handed, I foolishly started the game with left-handed settings before realizing that this was never going to work for me. Beyond making your left hand dominant for holding weapons, Crossfire changes over everything, which had me incredibly discombobulated. I quickly swapped it all back, and settled on shooting right-handed. That said, the shooting feels great, particularly with scoped weapons.

Pulling up a scoped rifle feels completely natural, and you'll find yourself automatically closing one eye to line up the sights on distant enemies. Though I played around with a variety of weaponry and enjoyed quite a bit of it (rocket launchers are a blast), I found that sniping dudes was my favorite way to play. That said, you do leave yourself wide open while looking down the sights, so be prepared to catch some lead from guys you didn't notice before you started aiming. 

With all the hubbub in the VR community about the way Firewall recently launched without manual reloading in place, players might be wondering if Crossfire: Sierra Squad makes the same misstep. Well, kind of, a little bit, not really. You do need to reach down and grab a new clip to reload, but you only need to get that clip in the general area of your gun before the game takes over and finishes the job for you. It's fine, and it works, even if it does feel a bit like you have a ghost friend that helps reload your guns for you.

In addition to the single player campaign, there are also over 50 missions to play in multiplayer, a horde mode, and a hardcore mode that unlocks when you finish the campaign; this is an enormous game for the VR space. I'll be frank here, though - you're gonna want to bring your own buddies to the party instead of counting on finding folks online to play with. This is PS VR2, after all, and the install base needed to find games isn't quite there. Same as it ever was with VR, I guess.

So yes, I ended up having a pretty good time with Crossfire: Sierra Squad, once I got used to what the game is and what it isn't. A head cold had me avoiding VR for a while in the middle of the review period, and when I dipped back into the game I was pleasantly reminded of how fun it can actually be. Enter Crossfire in the right headspace, and you'll find a lot to enjoy. 

A bit of trailer trickery might have you thinking that Crossfire: Sierra Squad is more open than it really is. While it's not quite a rail shooter, the environments and scenarios are much smaller than you might expect. Still, a wealth of content and a ton of weapons make up for the surprise once you settle in to the fact that this is an cover-based arcade shooter above all. The guns feel good, the graphics are fine, and if you turn off your brain you'll probably have a pretty good time. 

Rating: 7.5 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS VR2, Quest 3, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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