The lines are iconic. The action is unforgettable. This story of a man turned cyborg is an irreplaceable part of culture and science fiction. In 1987, director Paul Verhoeven gave the world RoboCop, an ultra-violent tale of a resurrected police officer serving his brand of justice while upholding the law in a broken American dystopia. The themes of humanity and the rise of corporate corruption met slapstick humor and bloody firefights.
After a few cameo appearances and a stint on mobile, RoboCop is back with his own video game, RoboCop: Rogue City. The team behind 2019's Terminator: Resistance has decided to leave the ray guns of the future for the dystopian city of Detroit to give Robocop the justice he deserves. I'm pleased to say that RoboCop: Rogue City is a must-play and must-own, as it is a game that understands the assignment and completes it exceptionally.
RoboCop has seen its fair share of video games in time. His gaming debut goes back to the 80s and 90s with a series of simple sidescrollers. Following a pretty decent sequel and a dreadful third installment, Frank Miller published Robocop Versus the Terminator, which put two of the most iconic machines in a battle for the future. This led to a personal favorite, RoboCop Versus The Terminator, on the SNES, which was successful. However, where the Terminator would go on to soar to new heights, Robo was left in the scrap heap.
A sci-fi TV series presented new ideas but fell into the so bad, it's good territory. RoboCop had a series of short-lived animated cartoons as well. One last attempt at a proper game was made in 2002 with RoboCop for the Xbox. However, the game was as bad as the third movie. Since then, RoboCop appeared in Mortal Kombat 11 as a playable fighter and Fortnite as a playable skin. 2014 saw a decent reboot of the character with a new actor and a slimmer design, but it was average, if not memorable. The reboot was accompanied by a mobile game, which was more of a cover shooter.
Coming off their success from the 2019 Terminator: Resistance, the team at Teyon decided to strike while the iron was hot. Terminator: Resistance was one of the biggest sleeper hits in recent memory. A game that wasn't being talked about as loudly as it should have but was known throughout the circles thanks to those who played it. Between the open-ended missions, gameplay, and attention to fan service, Terminator: Resistance became an incredibly heartfelt effort toward the Terminator franchise and the fans who grew up with it. RoboCop: Rogue City takes the ingredients that made Terminator: Resistance so special and makes it even better.
RoboCop: Rogue City puts players into the heavy legs of resurrected police officer Alex Murphy, who is commonly referred to as RoboCop. Actor Peter Weller returns to put his full voice and likeness into the role, bringing exceptional authenticity to the experience. Things get serious from the start, and RoboCop is needed in a city on its knees from crime.
Nuke reigns supreme
Following the events of RoboCop 2, RoboCop finds himself on the front lines of a bitter drug war that has grabbed every street and corner of Detroit. RoboCop destroyed a cyborg drug lord, Cain, and dismantled his gang. However, a power vacuum remains, and the deadly drug known as Nuke sweeps the city. A gang leads an assault on the city's TV station and takes hostages. Soon enough, the sound of RoboCops' footsteps make their way to the steps of the station.
During the operation, RoboCop encountered a glitch that was seen by many, sending waves of bad press. While the situation is dealt with, the city grapples with an identity crisis. Omni Consumer Products (OCP) is determined to go forward with Delta City while the fear of Nuke, crime, and malfunctioning machines now loom over the citizens. RoboCops' duty will put him into dangerous situations that may affect the outcome of Detroit and himself.
From the very start, there is an extraordinary level of detail that anyone will appreciate. RoboCop always presented its dystopian city with a B-movie vibe, but RoboCop: Rogue City goes a step further. The city is grimy and wet. Dilapidated buildings and neon signs are everywhere. Trash clutters the roads and sidewalks. You can almost smell the filth as your heavy legs thump through the wet streets. This is indeed dystopian Detroit.
The very moment RoboCop steps out of the car, it becomes abundantly clear that Teyon nailed the aesthetic. They understood what people wanted when one thinks of RoboCop, and they delivered in spades. Every inch of RoboCop is true to the movies, from Robo's robotic motions to the synthetic reverb in his voice to the sheen of his armor. Even the look and shooting of the Auto-9 pistol feel authentic to the movies. Smaller aspects, like the neon-green interface and the sound of locking onto a target, all further heighten a game that wants to do right by seminal sci-fi film.
Come Quietly or there Will Be.....Trouble
The presentation is sharp but not without its oddities. Players can easily spot corners in which trash paper infinitely flies out. Certain hair textures warp, and there's a slight pop-in from time to time. Still, the game looks sharp for the most part. In a cosmic twist, some of the visual flaws, small as they are, lend themselves to the game. The original movie was a B-rated film at its best, using an abundance of practical effects to get the job done.
Visuals aren't anything if gameplay doesn't back it up, and RoboCop: Rogue City backs it up hard. RoboCop: Rogue City features exciting, pulpy shooting. Much like the movies before it, Rogue City is hard on the ultra-violence. Guns are fearsome and powerful. Each weapon has a punch and crunch that turns enemies into blobs of crimson in an instant. Shooting an enemy in the head leads to a bloody explosion, like bursting a watermelon. Furthering this is the surprising destructibility as bullets chip away concrete and explosions send shrapnel flying. The most satisfying mechanism is the throwing mechanic. Take any bulky Computer CRT and hurl it at the enemy for an incredible takedown. The same mechanic applies to office chairs, dumpsters, and explosive barrels.
I'd Buy That for a Dollar
The seminal Auto-9 pistol rips fire like a dragon with its piercing 3-round burst. It also has infinite ammo and can be upgraded later during the game. The pistol can have a motherboard installed, with chips rearranged to allow better attributes to the gun. Upgrading combat in the skill tree helps in this ability as well. RoboCop can hack turrets, dash, and deploy flashbangs with his wrist, and he even has a skill in which bullets bounce off of him and back to an enemy.
During combat, RoboCop is a walking tank. He is slow but heavily plated. He can take immense damage, but he is not invincible. Shooting as RoboCop makes you a walking cannon, marching into enemy fire without a care in the world. However, take too much damage, and you'll need to use the OCP repair modules. Players are granted up to five of these modules, but they can be refilled by finding other modules scattered in the environment. One upgradeable skill is using fuse boxes to charge and heal.
Shooting enemies in RoboCop: Rogue City is some of the most euphoric gameplay you could experience in games today. Every weapon feels violent before even being fired. Punching the living lights out of a drug dealer is immeasurably satisfying. Grabbing gunmen like Prophet in Crysis and throwing mammoth CRT monitors at enemies is some of the most fun I've had in quite some time. On top of all that, RoboCop can use enemy weapons. This includes shotguns, Uzi 9mm, pistols, and more. Like the aforementioned Crysis, RoboCop can rip out a heavy machine gun from an elevated position and perforate enemies. It's gameplay that understands RoboCop and why the violence is the way it has to be.
Rogue City likely would have been an above-average shooter if it was a 10-15 hour shooting experience from level to level. However, the team went with a new philosophy that works. RoboCop is Alex Murphy, and Alex is still a human police officer beneath the steel and circuitry. He is sworn to serve the public. With a city in disarray, it takes far more than guns and bullets to make a real difference. Alex is a symbol of the Detroit Police Department, but most importantly, the people. It's up to you how to serve the people.
Protect the Innocent
Rogue City isn't divided into levels per se but larger mini-open worlds. The first area has players searching an entire area of buildings, streets, and alleyways on a foot patrol. The primary objective that moves the story forward is readily available, but the thrill is walking the beat. Crimes are actively being committed, and as RoboCop, you can uphold the law or serve the public trust. Every square inch is ripe with evidence to collect and clues to scan. Evidence translates into points, which leads to leveling up RoboCop's various traits. Psychology, combat, engineering, each trait can be useful. Solving crimes, serving tickets, and even interacting with the public make a difference, especially in leveling up and mission ratings. Most importantly, decisions that are made can have an effect later in the game.
This gameplay focus of making RoboCop: Rogue City a shooter and detective game is profound and even heart-centered. Murphy interacts with a police psychologist with a cyborg arm, having lost it to an ED-209. Fellow officers share their feelings and grief with Alex during certain scenes. Murphy struggles with the humanity that he clings to. A visit to a basketball court inspires a citizen to adopt non-violence. It's clear that Teyon wanted to make a RoboCop experience that has more spirit than one would expect. It works swimmingly well here, making the experience far more than a mindless venture.
Serve The Public Trust
There is so much to enjoy and dig deep within RoboCop: Rogue City. Nods to the movies are everywhere, from the 6000 SUX to a certain death animation ripped straight from the first movie. The action is aplenty, and there's plenty of red-hot cyborg action to experience. RoboCop: Rogue City treats the license and its audiences with respect. A respect for their expectations, a respect for the source material, and a respect for the player's time and their experience.
RoboCop: Rogue City has only a few blemishes. Combat can get repetitive, and I feel the story could have been significantly longer by ten hours or so. My playthrough clocked in at 20hrs, which is a good length. I was having such a blast I didn't want the game to end! There was even a unique idea regarding human rights brought up multiple times that could lead to an incredible arc. There were a few untimely crashes, but the game's resourceful auto-save got me back into the action. There are no multiplayer or additional modes to either. This is strictly single-player.
Dead Or Alive, You Are Coming With Me
I held my breath with RoboCop: Rogue City but didn't know what to expect from such a particular developer. I've come away enthralled and enthusiastic, like I just defeated the bad guys and saved the day. There's no telling where Teyon goes from here, but if there are more games like RoboCop Rogue City, the gaming community would be all the better for them.
RoboCop: Rogue City is an excellent example of how to adapt a franchise right. Its visuals are spot on. The gameplay is incredible. The mission and story structure are vividly cinematic. RoboCop: Rogue City is an unforgettable joyride into one of the most classic figures of our time. I encourage everyone to hop in. Dead or Alive, you are playing this game!
RoboCop: Rogue City was reviewed on the PlayStation 5