RoboCop: Rogue City Review

Back in 1987, Metro-Goldwyn Mayor, Orion Pictures and director Paul Verhoeven combined to release a movie called RoboCop. Set in a future version of ‘Old Detroit,’ it centred upon a half-man, half-robot cop whose directive was to help people and protect his city. Its success guaranteed a sequel, then another in the early 90s, but things got pretty quiet after that. That is, until a reboot was released in 2014. Personally, I can only remember watching the first two just shy of three decades ago, but I likely watched the third one as well. Hell, I still have memories of asking my grandmother to tape one of them for me while we drove the two-and-a-half hours to their house, then having her tell my mom that it was incredibly violent and full of swear words.

Needless to say, I’ve got some history with RoboCop, but hadn’t for some time until I was given a review code for RoboCop: Rogue City from Teyon and Nacon. Now that I’ve completed the game thoroughly, I can share my thoughts on it.

RoboCop: Rogue City is a first-person shooter with semi-open world gameplay. Players, of course, inhabit the metallic shoes of the titular hero, as he tries to rid a decrepit, crime infused and nearly destroyed version of Old Detroit of crime.

The game’s story focuses on a new player who’s entered the local crime game, but whose identity is unknown, at least at the beginning. It starts with a bang, too, because your first mission involves going to a TV studio to take on a crazed gang who’s taken over the airwaves in violent fashion, so that they can get a message out to this newcomer. Their goal? To work with him and reap the rewards. This story gets bigger and more violent as it goes along, and is quite good overall. The characters have depth, the NPCs you deal with do, too, and a lot of it is pretty memorable, not to mention impressive.

All the while, a well liked cop is missing. His last location unknown, RoboCop takes it upon himself to look into the case and find the cop’s whereabouts, while also dealing with his family if the player chooses to complete that side quest.

Over the course of approximately thirty missions, some of which take place inside of RoboCop‘s precinct, where he must attend briefings, take part in psychological exams, practice his gunfire at a range and help other officers, the game plays out in immersive fashion. It truly makes you feel as if you’re RoboCop, and gives you lots of side missions to attend to. These can include fixing lights after a power outage, showing a rookie cop how to do things, looking for the location of a stolen car, trying to help a drug addict who’s somewhat of a police informant and dealing with gang shootouts. There are a lot of side quests to do, and I completed almost every one I came across. I only missed a couple, and one just so happened to be a pretty major murder case from what I’ve read, meaning I’ll have to go back and try to find the body. Thankfully, it’s near the beginning. Not that replaying Rogue City would be a bad thing by any means!

There’s a decent-sized version of Old Detroit that one can roam around at times, while completing main missions and keeping the peace by stopping a graffiti artist, issuing tickets and more. It comprises a number of blocks, and lets you explore at your will, which is how I missed the crime scene. You can undertake numerous side objectives from here, and will meet interesting character(s). Keep in mind that these side objectives disappear after you leave the area, so do them when you can. You will return to this semi-open map, but not after every regular mission. Just from time to time.

Even during ‘main’ missions, which involve going places and dealing with disturbances, gangs, etc. players will find some side objectives they can take on. Doing so will earn them extra experience points, and lead to a better mission grade at the end. Said experience points can then combine to unlock upgrade points, which can be used in the game’s skill tree. It allows you to upgrade different facets and abilities, like RoboCop‘s vitality, armor, focus, deception, social skills, damage and engineering, the latter of which is used to hack turrets. I would recommend focusing on vitality, armor and damage, because those will help you most and are the most important. I found that the first boss was quite challenging, but when I faced two of them later on it wasn’t too bad, because I became a lot more like a tank in the time between encounters.

In all honesty, I don’t really see the point of upgrading anything else over those three things. The others aren’t used nearly as much, which is a bit of a downside and kind of misleading given how big the skill tree is.

Before we stop talking about side missions and experience points, it’s important to also mention that some of the choices you make have consequences. For instance, giving the graffiti artist a ticket makes him an enemy of yours. Meanwhile, talking to both mayoral candidates will allow you to choose which one to side with, if you’ll side with either one, leading to an election result that RoboCop, himself, can help determine. There are quite a few different dialogue options, and you’re usually offered three at a time.

You can also upgrade your pistols’ stats by completing chip puzzles, which task you with connecting circuits inside of a computer chip. You’ll find these chips as you play, and will need to be careful because it’s possible to get some heavily negative effects by completing these puzzles the wrong way. For instance, allowing the current to go one way may give you minus 20 to one of your pistols’ stats. Meanwhile, there’s give and take at times, because you can get a bonus and a negative at the same time.

The core gameplay, though, is pretty straightforward in terms of its first-person shooting. RoboCop doesn’t have a lot of special abilities at his disposal, but he does end up unlocking a dash, a stun ability and the ability to heal himself. Most of the time, though, you’ll be pointing and shooting at foes, be they gang members, human soldiers or robots.

In some ways, RoboCop: Rogue City¬†feels like an homage to the past, in terms of its setting, its locations and its gameplay, which doesn’t try to reinvent the genre by any means. It’s action-packed, it’s very, very bloody (including shooting enemies’ heads off), and it’s simply fun. Although it’s kind of basic, the shooting is incredibly satisfying, and the pistols you’re equipped with pack quite a punch. You can, however, pick up fallen foes’ weapons, but can only carry one extra gun at a time. Sometimes that’ll be an SMG or an assault rifle. At other times, it’ll be a sniper rifle, a grenade launcher or a shotgun. It depends on what local enemies are carrying.

I never expected to enjoy this game as much as I did, and am glad that I asked to review it. If I hadn’t, I would’ve missed out on a quality double A game and its immersive story.

Visually, RoboCop: Rogue City is a hit. It looks quite nice at almost all times, and features excellent lighting. This is especially evident during sections where there’s lots of sunlight, and segments that take place at night, such as the first time you explore Old Detroit on foot. Its character models are also well designed, and feature some nice detailing. This is especially true of RoboCop, as you’d expect, as his suit is incredibly detailed and truly shines. The other main characters are no slouches, either, though.

One particular segment of the game takes place inside of an old video store, which has numerous shelves full of VHS tapes. I was especially impressed with this location, because it was obvious that it was a passion project for the folks at Teyon. The effort they must’ve went to to create so many unique movie boxes is hard to fathom, but they created a store that had lots of different options available. It all looked really realistic, too, and was a great place for a shootout. That said, it left me feeling kind of sad because I miss those days. I used to be a regular at about 9 different video stores, and sometimes dream that I have something overdue.

The audio, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. Most things sound good, meaning the boisterous sound effects and good, original, music. However, I found myself turning this game up and down quite a bit. The reason why was the dialogue. The mixing simply isn’t great, and it lead to some dialogue being low in volume and other parts being very loud. It’s like one of those action movies where the dialogue is low at one moment, and then there’s a booming noise at the next moment. This takes away from the experience, and from some of the solid voice acting.

With all that having been said, I doubt I need to state this, but I will. RoboCop: Rogue City is a rather good game, and surprisingly so. It exceeded my expectations, for sure, and made me happy that I’d taken a chance on it. Although it’s not a triple-A game, or something that’s being advertised everywhere, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, it’s a shooter that deserves attention because of how good it is, and also because it nails the 80s/futuristic aesthetic from the movie(s). Don’t sleep on this one!

I may even pick it up on PlayStation 5 one day, and play through it again.

This review is based on the Xbox Series X version of the game, which we were provided with.

RoboCop: Rogue City Review
Reader Rating0 Votes
The Good Stuff
Expertly captures the futuristic 80s feel of the RoboCop movie(s)
Lots of main quests and side quests
Heavy on optional content
Lots of different builds available, though I'd recommend focusing on health, damage and armour
Looks really nice, but does have some pop in and the odd visual glitch
The music and sound effects are very solid, and incredibly fitting
The voice acting is good, for the most part, but too quiet or too loud, depending
The shooting feels great
12-13 hours long, but you can extend it a bit more by completing all side quests
The Not-So-Good Stuff
Some pop-in and the odd visual glitch
The sound is very uneven
Not all of the voice acting is great