I probably shouldn’t have been watching Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop when I did because his vision of a dystopian Detroit was brutal. Then again, I probably watched many movies I shouldn’t have seen as a child, but those experiences led to a love of films. And while the follow-up film was a decent follow-up, the third film was a stinker, inevitably leading to a television series in Canada that never captured the magic of Verhoeven’s vision. We also got a bunch of video game tie-ins — RoboCop Versus The Terminator being the most memorable.
Developer Teyon, the team behind Terminator: Resistance, is the first in years to work on RoboCop, and while it has some warts, the overall experience is as close to Verhoeven’s movie as I could hope for. Recruiting Peter Weller to reprise his titular role, which caused him a lot of grief decades ago due to the gruelling filming schedules and an uncomfortable suit but also executive interference, is a great start.
In RoboCop: Rogue City, you step into the iconic boots of the titular character, RoboCop, a shell of the former police officer Alex Murphy. Your mission is to keep the streets clean and ensure the innocent in the gritty streets of Old Detroit are safe from harm. The story starts with RoboCop experiencing a glitch during a hostage rescue at a news station, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s an undercurrent of intrigue and mystery beneath the city’s surface, and the narrative takes you on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.
What’s remarkable about this game is its ability to balance campy humour with a genuinely compelling storyline. It’s not all laughs, though. Some moments delve into near-psychological thriller territory. The game’s tone is as dynamic as RoboCop himself, shifting seamlessly without ever breaking your immersion.
Credit goes to Rogue City for staying faithful to its source material. Without a doubt, the developers understand a lot of what makes the RoboCop series work. Even down to the aesthetic, RoboCop brings to life a bygone era of the 80s futurism made famous by dozens of movies from the decade.
You Call This A Glitch?
One of the standout features of RoboCop: Rogue City is how it oozes movie influences. From the rundown police station to the familiar setting of Old Detroit, every detail is accounted for. The Unreal Engine brings this dystopian world to life in a visually captivating yet gritty way. This game unfolds between the events of RoboCop 2 and 3 in a city still plagued by the designer drug Nuke, and it’s up to RoboCop to end it. In a way, much of the town reminds me of Deus Ex, and it fills a void we’re sorely missing now.
And let’s not forget the brilliant move of returning Peter Weller to reprise his role as RoboCop. His voice, though slightly less robotic, captures the essence of a RoboCop several years removed from his transformation into a cyborg. While Nancy Allen doesn’t return as Officer Lewis, the soundalike performance is stellar, adding more authenticity to the experience.
Now, here’s something I love in video games – a dialogue system that matters. RoboCop: Rogue City delivers on this front, just like its predecessor, Terminator: Resistance. It’s not just about exchanging words; your choices can have a tangible impact on the people and situations around you.
Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
RoboCop’s internal struggle, his constant battle to find the line between man and machine, is a compelling thematic thread. It’s a shame, though, that this theme mainly exists in dialogues and cutscenes without affecting gameplay. I’d love to have been more involved in RoboCop’s introspective journey, but it’s an observation rather than an immersion. Nevertheless, the focus on RoboCop’s unique attributes is spot-on. He’s a walking tank, and it feels fantastic to trudge through the streets, shrugging off bullets and tearing through enemies with his iconic Auto-9 machine pistol.
Now, let’s talk about the open-level system in the game, which is nothing short of incredible. The ability to explore Old Detroit is a significant plus, and the side missions add depth to the world-building. You’re not limited to just one location; the game takes you to abandoned steel mills and factories. While linear missions are interspersed, they keep the story moving and are genuinely entertaining.
Regarding the gameplay itself, RoboCop: Rogue City is a straightforward first-person shooter. Aim, shoot, and watch the bad guys explode in a shower of sparks and gore. It’s gloriously over-the-top, just like the movies. Plus, you can pick up various weapons scattered around, from shotguns to snipers and even launchers. The variety is a welcome change, and it’s a step up from Terminator: Resistance in this regard.
Of course, we can’t ignore RoboCop’s signature weapon, the Auto-9. It’s a focal point of the game, and the tactical view with the green scan-line grid and signature targeting box is a nostalgic nod to the movies. Unleashing the Auto-9 on your targets is just as satisfying as it sounds. The attention to detail in sound design, directly from the films, is a testament to Teyon’s dedication.
RoboCop also features a skill tree that adds depth to his character. While it’s not extensive, the eight skills available are well-crafted and make you feel like you’re progressing. The abilities you unlock, such as a dash or the ability to open safes without a code, are resourceful and logical additions. It isn’t an overbearing skill tree either, with the titular cop having eight skills that range from combat to vitality to deduction to psychology. If you throw points into engineering, you can boost a dash attack or crack safes without the combination. Or you begin with adding additional weapon damage or stun enemies with a shockwave by focusing on the Combat skill.
RoboCop: Rogue City is a delightful blend of nostalgia, action, and engaging storytelling. While it may have minor flaws, it’s a must-play for franchise fans and gamers looking for a fun, action-packed experience. Teyon has once again proved its prowess in creating an enjoyable spinoff of a beloved classic. So, whether you’re a die-hard RoboCop fan or a newbie to the world of Old Detroit, this game is well worth your time and attention. Give it a shot and immerse yourself in the world of the iconic RoboCop.
[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Review: RoboCop Rogue City
RoboCop: Rogue City is a delightful blend of nostalgia, action, and engaging storytelling. While it may have minor flaws, it's a must-play for franchise fans and gamers looking for a fun, action-packed experience.
An authentic RoboCop game that honours the Paul Verhoeven film
RoboCop is an excellent character
Old Detroit is fun to explore
The dialogue system provides a decent level of replayability
Performance issues and a lack of technical polish bring the experience down