Whether you’re a RoboCop fan or not, I’m sure at some point you’ve heard the line “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!” This is a legendary line spoken by RoboCop in the first Robocop film that was released in 1987. RoboCop 1 and 2 are classic over-the-top action movies with death scenes, colorful language, and extremely graphic violence.
RoboCop 3…well, we don’t like to talk about that one and never want to talk about RoboCop 2012, and it is clear developers Teyon feel the same since RoboCop: Rogue City‘s story takes place between the 2nd and 3rd films.
It’s quickly apparent developers Teyon are super fans of the earlier films. Upon starting the campaign, everything I described in my opening regarding the first RoboCop movie is front and center in RoboCop: Rogue City.
Avoiding spoilers, a new rich guy has come to the rundown gang-infested city of Detroit with plans to take over. This is pretty much all told in the first 5 minutes by a reverse mow-hawk gang boss who just took over the local TV station.
Visually the game is spot on with its 1v1 comparison of the film’s version of future Detroit. The streets are dark and gloomy with shady characters on every block. There are some beautiful lighting effects which are noticeable by the neon sign reflections in the street puddles. The attention to detail is surprising.
For example, roaming around the precinct looks exactly like the one in the films. From the old IBM computers on the desks to RoboCop’s charge/rest station in the basement that’s in its own cage. There is NPC movement all over the place along with great background ambient sounds and voices. Some character models look better than others but graphically everything looks as one would imagine a RoboCop game taking place within this period should look.
On that note, RoboCop’s movements are also as expected which means limited. He can’t jump, duck, take cover or run. Pressing in on the Left stick will perform a light jog and there are upgrades you can earn to improve his mobility which I’ll discuss later but on the base level, he’s just a slow-moving Robot with some damn good aiming, and the ability to take massive damage before needing to heal up.
However, what really makes you feel like RoboCop is hearing actor Peter Weller who played RoboCop in the films reprise the role in RoboCop: Rogue City. And we are not talking about some one-liners here or there. Oh no, he has full long conversations throughout the 20+ hour campaign. Besides the main story mission, there are small side quests and some rather lengthy side quests that you can choose to play out or return to at a later point by marking them on your map.
For example, there was a character who had an item to return to someone but didn’t want to go alone. You will then see a dialogue window appear with some options. 90% of your interactions with NPCs will prompt this dialogue box with multiple choices to select from. Each choice will produce a different outcome which also means this game has multiple endings.
With that said, my main complaint is the lack of save options. The game auto-saves with no manual save option. If for some reason you didn’t like the choice you just made the only way to reverse it is by rage quitting the game and hoping upon re-entry it didn’t auto-save. I found this particularly annoying when roaming around the city. The game is not an open world, but there are open areas to explore and stop crime.
At one point, I completed about 3 mini crimes and exited the game to the main menu. Upon returning to the game, I was sent all the way back to the end of the last story base mission cutscene. The game did not save my progress from resolving the street crimes. I re-played those mini-crimes and then started the next main campaign objective. It’s at that point the game auto-saved my progress.
RoboCop: Rogue City does throw in a few twists to the gameplay that makes it more than just an FPS. Holding down the left trigger brings up RoboCop’s scanner for targeting enemies but it can also be used to find clues to solve story progression puzzles or to find hidden items. I recommend scanning every inch of the game. Pressing the RB button will perform a punch that can also be used to smash open boxes. I found items in alleyways, broken furniture, and rooms that looked empty. RoboCop can pick up enemy weapons, ammo, and OCP charges which work as heal packs.
Later in the game, you will have the ability to charge up via wall-mounted charging stations. RoboCop can also pick up various items to use as melee or projectile weapons. For example, pick up a chair and swing it around to knock enemies out or just throw it at them. As you progress, you will earn skill points that can be used to upgrade RoboCop’s abilities such as extending your default gun magazine size, increasing movement speed or scanning speed, etc. Some are more useful than others but it’s a cool feature to have to better improve your crime-fighting experience.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good RoboCop game and some may argue we never had a good RoboCop game but one thing is for sure, RoboCop: Rogue City is the best. The game looks, feels, and sounds like the earlier RoboCop films. Those unfamiliar with the franchise may roll their eyes with some of the dialogue heard from NPCs but it’s fitting for the time period and exactly what we would have heard in those earlier films.
It also never gets old shooting a few rounds to a nuke fiend’s head and watching the blood splat all over the wall behind him. This game was created by RoboCop fans for RoboCop fans and does one hell of a job of creating an immersive throwback experience for a beloved franchise.
This review was based on a digital copy of RoboCop: Rogue City for the Xbox Series X provided by Teyon and Nacon.