I only recently got hip to the neon-hued, retro-flavored goodness that are radiangames’ offerings on the Indie Games marketplace. Indeed, while my colleague in arms, Rob Rich, has played through all of their other releases to date, my only hands-on experience with their work has been with Fluid, released this past October.
In preparation for reviewing Crossfire 2, I felt the need to at least be acquainted with its predecessor, so I could fairly judge it in context. After sampling the original Crossfire and getting a feel for its two-sided, battlefield-flipping attack gimmick (which was already pretty cool to begin with), I think I can safely go on record as saying that even the smallest, most incremental changes can make an old game feel totally new all over again.
The biggest addition to Crossfire 2 is the removal of the older, fixed upgrade system and the implementation of a point-based mechanic, which adds a greater level of depth to the gameplay. You’re granted an allocation of 15 points, which can then be invested in 11 different enhancements for your vessel, ranging from ship health to bullet spread and so on. Then you’re granted a paltry 3 points every other round for further upgrades. As upgrades are variably priced, based on category (health, for instance, runs 4 points per level), this puts the “risk vs. reward” balancing act into play. Should you wait another couple of rounds to buy that extra bar of health or should you blow your points now on a couple of cheaper, but less desirable enhancements?
Meanwhile, Score Attack mode starts you with 40 points, but only allows upgrades every ten waves of enemies, giving you greater agency to craft a finely-tuned death-craft right off the bat to better attempt to nab those high scores. Beyond that (and the addition of an unlockable Conquest Plus mode), the same solid gameplay of the first Crossfire is still very much in place, but everything feels tighter, looks brighter and generally plays better than before. The tweaks to the UI are nice, too.
All in all, it’s a pretty neat package for only a single, measly buck. While I applaud radiangames for making all of their releases affordable (the $1 model is certainly a proven selling point — just ask iTunes), I almost want to smack them upside the head for underpricing themselves. Don’t sell yourself short, guys! Still, whatever gets their games into more people’s hands is always good. So if you’re a gamer who loves retro shooters or know someone who has a soft spot for old-school sensibilities too, Crossfire 2 is a no-brainer recommendation. Hell, for that matter we recommend the entire radiangames catalog to date. For the cost of less than a matinee movie ticket you can pick up a whole slew of quality titles.
Things We Liked: Eye-catching neon aesthetics. Catchy gameplay. New upgrade mechanic makes the game feel brand-new.
Things We Disliked: …
Target Audience: Aging arcade rats. Neo-retro aficionados. People looking to support great indie releases.
(radiangames Crossfire 2 – Developer/Publisher: radiangames. Available for Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Indie Games. Unfamiliar with CFD!’s review system? Read our newly revised explanation here.)