RoboCop, as a franchise, sits comfortably in the Pantheon of sci-fi action movies alongside Terminator and Alien. It tells the story of Alex Murphy, an officer who was gunned down in the line of duty and was brought back to serve the people of Detroit as a fusion of man and metal. But does this resurrected officer enforce the letter of the law or the spirit of the law? Well, that’s completely up to you.
RoboCop Rogue City is a first-person shooter that draws a great deal of inspiration from the movies and the world the series created. Picking up after the events of the second movie, players take control of the titular RoboCop as he tries to take back a city plagued with Nuke and corporate greed.
The story is pretty much what you would expect from a RoboCop game. At the center of all events is this overarching plot involving multiple street gangs and a mysterious “New Guy” who introduces a new brand of scum and villainy to Old Detroit. RoboCop is sent in to deal with the bad guys but is soon wrapped up in a web of election campaigns and performance evaluations. All the while upholding his sworn oath to protect and serve the community. It’s a lot to take in. But the game does a decent job translating it to something playable.
As RoboCop, you will spend a good amount of time patrolling the streets of downtown Detroit looking for violations that warrant a ticket. Sometimes you will come across misdemeanors like drinking in public and throwing bags of trash. For these instances, you have the option to issue a ticket or give a stern warning. Your choices impact RoboCop’s public perception but the payoff for your choices won’t manifest until very much later on.
The act of patrolling downtown allows for sub-quests to occur organically while not impacting the larger events of the story. It’s mostly RoboCop walking up to a crime scene and offering assistance to fellow officers frustrated over the lack of support from their corporate sponsors. I particularly like quests where character growth is shown by long-time addict, Pickles. It’s nice seeing your choices play out in unexpected ways. And speaking of evolving. As the game progresses, the city blocks undergo radical change as they make way for the eventual construction of Delta City – The City of the Future. One of several points of contention for the remaining citizens.
The rest of the game is going to places of interest and storming gang strongholds to advance the story. In typical RoboCop fashion, you will be walking into the line of fire, often against overwhelming odds. Some encounters even pit you against allies in a race to see who can take down more bad guys. It was a lot more intense than I expected. Also, a win reflects well on your next evaluation. So, it’s more worth it to show up and compete.
When I first heard of the game, I imagined the gunplay to be similar to a rail shooter. RoboCop is not as light on his feet as his 2014 reboot, so it makes sense that he would have to rely on his aim even more. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find out that the gunplay was as visceral and full of destruction as the movies portray. You still won’t be zooming across the combat zone but it’s the closest thing to the feel of shooting as RoboCop.
Enemies would explode in bloody tomatoes on headshots and be stunned in disbelief as their arms turned to red mist. Near the end of the game, getting up close and personal became the best way to avoid prolonged fights against armored enemies. The change of pace was very much welcomed. Though I very much disliked the fight with Ed-209. The one time a set of stairs could have saved me a lot of trouble, and the game gave me a warehouse instead.
There is a surprising amount of depth in the supporting mechanics. Your choice of Traits can lead to vastly different playstyles and might even be enough to justify multiple playthroughs, just to see how a different approach leads to the same outcome. This also extends to the chip upgrade system for your trusty Auto-9. It’s so good that I believe that I’ve lost a good chunk of time trying to squeeze the most performance out of a single board.
Throughout the game, RoboBot experiences several dissociative episodes that hinder him from doing his job. The human part is constantly trying to pull memories to the surface, causing RoboCop great pain. This man vs machine aspect has been thoroughly explored in RoboCop lore. But in Rogue City, we get a chance to define which part is dominant within RoboCop. While I do like the idea that a piece of Alex Murphy is still alive in that tin suit, others might prefer the cold machine committed to law enforcement without the “Ghost in the Shell”.
When it comes to visuals and performance, I can’t find much to say other than seeing the same faces around town. It’s so hard to ignore the reused character models. They kind of ruin the immersion a bit. RoboCop Rogue City is not alone in this. Even AAA games incorporate reused assets to save time and resources but at least they should put more effort into hiding it. If you start seeing the main cast being reused everywhere then we have a problem.
I’ve seen the OCP guy, Mr. Becker, with different colored hair and I’m supposed to believe that’s just another doctor in the hospital. The glasses didn’t help one bit, by the way. And it’s not just him. The character models for both the police force and gangs were lazily put in where characters were needed.
As for the rest of the visuals, it fits fine with the setting. Gritty and dirty is what Old Detroit is supposed to be. At least the homeless have a little more care and attention given to their unique looks.
RoboCop’s robotic voice acting is comparable to what he had in the first movie before the role became a revolving door of actors and mechanical voices. I was sold the moment I heard it. The same goes for his partner, Lewis. For as long as she was active on screen. It’s a shame that I can’t say the same for some of the other characters. It’s not as phoned-in as some performances in Mortal Kombat 1 but their lack of enthusiasm does show.
Now, I can’t end this review without mentioning some of the in-world stuff that intrigued me. The news segments were satire-worthy. The advertisements go above and beyond ridiculous. The sub-quests involving Sunblock 5000 and MagnaVolt Vehicle Security made me remember the old ads from the movies. If you haven’t seen them yet. You should give them a look. The quests are a lot funnier after you’ve seen them.
RoboCop: Rogue City is the sequel to RoboCop 2 we wished we had. The developer’s adherence to the source material is to be commended. Never did I think that the game was something only fans could enjoy. The action is thrilling while the side quests serve as a nice distraction from non-stop shooting. Sadly, minor performance issues and visual bugs hinder this title from ascending the ranks even further. There’s also the developer’s conscious choice of reusing characters for background characters. But despite its shortcomings, Rogue City is a game I highly recommend for it goes above and beyond the call of duty.
RoboCop: Rogue City
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.
Goes all in on bloody tomatoes and dismemberment
Faithful to the source material
Character performances outside the main cast is inconsistent