Go back in time and take on the role of perhaps the coolest cop Detroit has ever known. RoboCop is back in the spotlight after years of absence. That the iron fighter can throw a punch and a shot, we already knew. But how does he fare in game form? You can read all about this nostalgic adventure in the RoboCop Rogue City review.
The comeback of an old movie hero
Those who have been around a little longer know that games based on movies do not exactly have a good track record. Sloppily finished, often super short and also gameplay technically often leaves much to be desired. Still, that doesn’t stop developer Teyon. The studio previously came up with its own twist on the Terminator series and this time it’s the turn of metal good guy RoboCop to break the stigma of movie games.
A clear homage to the, by now more than 30 years old, cinematic works of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. You get the chance to step into the shoes of Alex Murphy, once a hard-working cop and now a metal-clad walking tank who has an answer to every situation. Including juicy one-liners. And now, after all these years and numerous underwhelming sequels and remakes, there is finally a new adventure that will warm old fans and introducers of the franchise alike.
RoboCop: Rogue City is set between the second and third films in the franchise. Detroit is still a hotbed for crime, and all that crime is further fueled by a mysterious new face with very deep pockets and plans that can’t bear the light of day. Logically, every gang in the city wants to do business with this new pawn, and you, as RoboCop, get to work hard to crack down on all these nefarious criminal schemes.
True to the source material
It’s a story that certainly won’t win any Oscars, but it’s the perfect motivation for a mechanical cop to go wild. And the game does just that while staying surprisingly true to its source material. A host of familiar characters reappear, iconic sound effects from the original films thunder from your speakers, and the icing on the cake may be Peter Weller’s return to voice RoboCop.
In the process, the game doesn’t shy away from sneaking in some social critiques, just as the original loved to do. But the human side of the cyborg also gets plenty of screen time. For example, RoboCop experiences several flashbacks to the time before the attempt on his life and on several occasions interacts with a psychologist who gives his human side room to shine. Clearly, the developers have a clear passion for the license and that authenticity shines through on all sides.
The key question then remains: does such an authentic foundation translate into entertaining gameplay? That answer is a bit more bipartisan. Rogue City does a number of things very well, but there are also a few obvious drawbacks that undercut the gameplay experience. For example, the core of that gameplay, shooting down hordes of criminals, is by far one of the game’s highlights. Armed with your trusty Auto 9, you rag pounds of lead through all opponents. RoboCop is not about subtlety, so there is very little need to take cover.
Shoot like a real boss
Often you run straight into the crowd and shoot everyone without hesitation. The punch your weapons deliver and the sound the Auto 9 makes with each fired salvo are never boring. You can fine-tune your play style throughout the game with skill points that you can spend to deal more damage or improve your armor, for example.
But the Auto 9 itself can also be customized with various boards and upgrades, which can be quite radical. For example, one circuit board ensures that you never have to reload, at the expense of the accuracy of your shots. Another circuit board does the exact opposite and turns your gun into a true sniper, with individual shots that do much more damage each.
It gives the shooting just that extra depth that adds to the gameplay, especially when you’ve already spent ten hours hopping around the digital streets of Detroit. It’s the depth and variety that is sometimes a bit lacking otherwise in the game. After all, in addition to all the lead popping, as RoboCop you also take to the streets a lot to perform old-fashioned detective work.
Game world lacks decoration and finishing touches
The game’s semi-open world structure allows you to explore Detroit at your leisure in between the violence and interact with the numerous side missions the game offers. The only problem here is that the city itself feels rather barren and desolate at times. Except for a handful of NPCs, you won’t find much liveliness in the world of Rogue City.
In addition, the missions you are presented with are often very simple in structure. Walk from point A to point B, talk to person X and then walk back again. It is unremarkable and sometimes even a bit boring. Moreover, the conversations you have with Detroit residents often feel superficial and low-impact. You are more than once given room to choose dialogue options, similar to many Bethesda games. But the consequences of those choices are little to nonexistent in the subsequent course of the game.
Only at the end are you presented with the consequences (the game has multiple endings), but even there the differences are very small. As a result, RoboCop Rogue City feels a bit too superficial at times, which is a shame because the first impression is just so strong. It is also a little further on in the game that the technical finish is lacking in many areas. Voices are not always in sync, the animations of characters is sometimes very wooden and cutscenes play stuttering and with obvious blocky artifacts.