Crossfire Legion: Hands-On Preview
It has been a long time between drinks for fans of a particular brand of RTS. That brand is the style of game that kicked off the genre in the early ’90s. The type of RTS that saw you build a swarm of tanks, helicopters and rocket launcher units only to send them to their death attacking an enemy encampment. The prime example of this sort of game, is of course, Command and Conquer and the recent remake of C&C proved that there is still an audience for this sort of experience. Well that audience is about to get something that is sure to satisfy their needs when Crossfire Legion releases later this year.
Thanks to the publisher Prime Matter, I have been playing the technical test for Crossfire Legion for about a week now and in that time I have been able to get a good feel for the skirmish mode on offer. Once the test goes live, I am sure there will be a chance to try multiplayer, but for now, I was forced to lock horns with a rather aggressive group of AI combatants. I also got the chance to try two of the final three factions and see just exactly what they had on offer.
The first thing I noticed was just how at home I felt. There was no tutorial in this test release but I can tell you I didn’t need one, because years of Command and Conquer muscle memory kicked in and I was off and running. If you have ever played a C&C game, especially the oft-forgotten Generals, you are going to have no trouble working out units, strategies and gameplay. Crossfire Legion borrows heavily from its inspirations, so much so that if this had released during the genre’s heyday then I imagine it would have been labelled a clone and quickly forgotten.
But, as we are so far removed from this golden period of RTS, Crossfire Legion feels more like a homage to the classics, bringing the gameplay into the modern era with a spanking new graphics engine and the same tight gameplay that older gamers like myself know and love. From the classic strategies to the unit types, Crossfire Legion wants you to feel like you are enjoying something you have played before, something that you know is fun, something you missed. The devs clearly want you to swim in a warm bath of nostalgia, letting players remember just why this genre was so popular for so long.
There are some nice quality of life improvements here though, so it isn’t an exact copy of a game from the ’90s. I mentioned the graphics previously and they are worth mentioning again. The unit design, while familiar is detailed and clear, it is easy to tell which unit is which and who they belong to without guesswork. The AI seems to be more competent too. I was never the greatest C&C player but rarely did the AI present too much of a problem, but here there the AI presented a stiff challenge and I had to adapt accordingly. Of course, nothing to compare to a human player, but a challenge nonetheless.
There are still a lot of questions to ask about Crossfire Legion. What will the campaign be like? Will there be stable netcode? Are the units balanced? Will Tim Curry appear in the cutscenes? All of the questions will have to wait until the full game releases, but at this stage, I am happy with what I have seen so far. Crossfire Legion is filling a gap that has been sorely needing attention, so the fact it so blatantly borrows from its inspiration isn’t a negative, it’s a positive. I hope as we get closer to the full game’s release we find out that there are more differences than is immediately apparent, but even if there isn’t I feel like this will be a game that every person who knows the difference between NOD and GDI should be looking at closely. It is clearly a game that was made just for you.