CrossFire: Legion Takes Smilegate’s Hugely Popular FPS In A Totally New Direction
It’s not every day a game like CrossFire comes along. Developed by South Korean studio Smilegate Entertainment, the 2007 shooter is one of the most popular games of all time, boasting 690 million players across 80 countries and spawning a massively successful TV show in China. Yet despite its tremendous success in the Asian market, CrossFire remains relatively obscure in the West. However, all of that is gearing up to change this year with the release of CrossFire: Legion.
Remember Command & Conquer: Renegade? Released in 2002, the game transported Westwood Studios’ hugely popular RTS series into the realm of the first-person shooter. Now, Homeworld developer Blackbird Interactive aims to do the opposite, eschewing the Counterstrike-inspired gunplay CrossFire is built upon in favor of tactical skirmishes across sprawling battlefields. The result is a fast and furious classical RTS where mercenary factions wage war for global domination. We at Hey Poor Player recently had the chance to get our hands on an early build of the game ahead of its Early Access release this Spring. And while it only offered a small taste of what players can expect from the full release, we walked away impressed with what we’ve seen so far.
The preview version of CrossFire: Legion gave us access to two of the game’s three playable factions: Global Risk and Black List. The former is a law and order-minded military force featuring a plethora of high-tech weaponry, while the latter is a hardscrabble group of freedom fighters specializing in guerrilla tactics.
If there’s one thing Black List excels at, it’s utilizing the element of surprise. Many units (and even some buildings) can turn invisible, allowing you to ambush your opponents or conceal valuable structures from aerial bombardments. And when you need to make a hasty escape, the faction’s commander, Phoenix, can even instantly teleport all cloaked units to a special structure called the Ghost Core, where they can be healed and live to fight another day.
Without a doubt, moving like a ghost and teleporting around the map is great and all. But that’s not to say Black List’s units can’t hold their own against Global Risk’s military might when push comes to shove. For example, the group’s all-terrain buggies, known as Cheetahs, can be upgraded with harpoons they can use to snatch enemy aircraft from the sky and send them smashing into the terra firma. Meanwhile, Chameleons are handy support trucks that can cripple the opposing army’s vehicles with an EMP blast and even pulverize the ground to create quicksand-like tracts of land that slow the opposition down and leave them vulnerable to a crushing counterattack.
While Global Risk’s forces aren’t nearly as stealthy as those of Black List, their cutting-edge hardware and raw military might combine to create a formidable force on the battlefield.
Take the Trooper, for instance. The lowliest grunts in the Global Risk ranks, these hearty soldiers can take combat-boosting drugs, exchanging some health to increase their damage output or even lay down turrets to augment their firepower or shore up your base’s defenses. The next rung in the infantry hierarchy, Rocket Troopers can also plop down turrets while their launchers turn armored vehicles into scrap metal.
Of course, the heavy artillery department is where Global Risk truly stands out. Rolling a battalion of gargantuan Phalanx tanks into an enemy base and using their hull-down ability to boost their armor significantly as they rain down barrages of fire on enemy structures is immensely satisfying. But my absolute favorite unit to utilize was the Morningstar. These massive gunships are slow-moving, but they make up for their lack of maneuverability with their chain guns that can chew through waves of troops and more lightly-armored vehicles. Not only can these flying nightmares unleash a barrage that deals bonus damage to a specific area, but they can also deploy a defense matrix that creates a protective barrier around an allied unit. When used in tandem with the general Cardinal’s Fire At Will ability, which sends a massive artillery barrage across the map, you can reduce even the most well-fortified base to a smoldering ruin.
With so many tactical options to consider and a wide variety of upgradable units and structures at your disposal, it’s clear even in this early state that CrossFire: Legion offers a considerably deep experience that can take some time to truly come to grips with. But that’s not to say Blackbird Interactive aims to reinvent the wheel. The basics of battle remain essentially unchanged from what you’d expect from a classic RTS. Controlling the map’s limited resources and building up a balanced base are still vital to claiming victory over your enemies. You’ll also need to keep a healthy supply of workers around to harvest fuel and materials, as well as construct and repair your buildings after they’ve taken a beating. Again, it’s all familiar stuff that anyone who played an RTS in the past 25 years or so should be instantly familiar with. But that’s hardly a jab against CrossFire: Legion, of course. After all, why fix what isn’t broken?
One thing that bothered me somewhat is that you can’t just build your base anywhere on the map. Instead, you can only deploy your HQ atop specific points located between resource-gathering nodes. As someone who likes to sneakily build hidden bases in tucked-away areas of the map and bide my time, I wasn’t crazy about this feature. But to be perfectly honest, CrossFire: Legion doesn’t exactly lend itself to protracted conflicts. With its fast-paced skirmishes and hotkeys that allow you to select every single aircraft, tank, or troop you have on the battlefield, it’s clear this is a game that expects you to throw everything you have at your enemy in one grand charge.
Even though its full release is still a ways off, I walked away from my early taste of CrossFire: Legion impressed with what it has to offer with its explosive 1v1 and 3v3 skirmishes – and that’s just the beginning of what Blackbird Interactive has in store for players. With the promise of more commanders, a third faction, co-op, and campaign modes, CrossFire: Legion is shaping up to conquer the hearts of classic RTS fans when it rolls onto Early Access this Spring.
Be sure to stay tuned to Hey Poor Player for the latest updates on CrossFire: Legion as they become available.