Radiangames did a clever thing adding their name to all their Xbox Live Indie Games. It makes them stand out from the crowd, its good marketing in a crowded and, most often, ignored marketplace. The naming convention reminds me of Aksys’ Bit.Trip series, and this one seems to have a distinctive style too. Crossfire steals its audiovisual aesthetic from Geometry Wars, the game that proved console downloadable games could be both high quality and successful. Thus, the game is pleasing on the eyes and ears. It is also a shooter, however, unlike Geometry Wars, this game riffs off Space Invaders, complete with the bonus UFOs. The twist is that you can press a button to flip between the bottom and top of the playfield. Its a good idea, although you feel could have been better implemented than here. The main game is far too long, at 50 waves, and they don’t feel distinct, plus the infinite continues makes this game feel less of a challenge and more like a slog. The large number of waves means less thought was given to each and the principle mechanic could have been better implemented. Bullets and suicide bullets often overwhelm you here, with the added effect that enemies can often only be killed from one side, above or below.
A point of annoyance is that you can’t change the button layout, making the “superfire” button (a powered up more spread shot, available once collecting little gems enemies shed) only available in an awkward place on my arcade stick. However, the side effect of this is that I have to move my finger from the switch button to the superfire button and back again, giving the later levels the fast switching feel of Ikaruga’s final boss.
Given you more bang for your buck (and its not much of a buck, just 80 Microsoft points), once you complete the game you unlock Turbo mode, which is a faster version of the main game, and Megawave, which pits you against 10 waves on only one credit. This wave offers more of a fun challenge and I wish it was the primary mode unlocked from the start
Overall, this game is worth a punt, but if it was the arcade, I wouldn’t give it more than one shot, despite Radiangames attempt at giving the game the polish of a professional release. Like the other Xbox Live Indie shooter I reviewed today, I’ll give this game just two stars (out of five).