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  • Writer's pictureOle Gamer Joe

RoboCop: Rogue City Review - Assault and Baddery



RoboCop: Rogue City Review by Ole Gamer Joe

Xbox/PC/PS

Release Date: 11/2/2023

Teyon/Nacon


If you grew up during the late 80s early 90s than there is a good chance you've at least heard of Robocop. The original film released back in 1987 to surprising success and starred Peter Weller, who plays a murdered police officer that was revived as a freedom fighting cyborg. As was the case with any product that sniffed success in the late 80s through the 90s, Robocop spawned tons of merchandise, a bizarre wrestling appearance featuring RoboCop himself and (of course) a few videogames. While many of these games were duds, some of them are at the least entertaining with my personal favorite being the Genesis version of RoboCop Versus the Terminator which by the way is surprisingly gory!


It has been a good many years since anyone has attempted a new Robocop game, but that changes today with developer Teyon and publisher Nacon releasing RoboCop: Rogue City which takes place in-between the 2nd and 3rd films. But is Robocop firing on all cylinders or is this one a rusty bucket of bolts?


Screenshot of shooting action in RoboCop: Rogue city
Explosive action in RoboCop: Rogue City

In RoboCop: Rogue City crime is surging out of control and police officers are being killed at an alarming rate. A "new guy in town" is rumored to be wanting to do business in Old Detroit, which gets the attention of a gang known as the Torch Heads. The Torch Heads supply the city with drugs, more specifically a highly addictive substance known as Nuke. Queue RoboCop and friends who hope to clean the city up once and for all. RoboCop will find himself in many situations throughout the campaign, but the main thread throughout is kill the bad guys, stop the drugs, save the hostages, save the day.


While the storylines from the Robocop movies have always been silly, I always found them to at the least somewhat entertaining in an over-the-top way. Unfortunately, when it comes to Rogue City, that simply isn't the case. While it's fantastic that the developers were able to acquire Peter Weller to lend his acting chops to the infamous robotic police officer once again, they have unfortunately given him absolutely no talent to work with. This is some of the worst voice acting in a game I have ever encountered, with a lip sync that often doesn't match up with the words being spoken. The performances are so bad in fact that the two people who were over my house while I was playing were questioning if outside of Weller, the actors were not actors at all and were AI bots. I'm not entirely sure on that but either way the developers would have been better off hiring $20-dollar Fiverr creators than whatever decision they went with here. The story is sloppy, poorly acted, and often even confusing. The pacing of the game feels way out of whack, and while it's great to see RoboCop in any form of media again, this plot simply isn't as fun or entertaining as previous works within this universe.


A screenshot from RoboCop: Rogue City with a giant robot.
RoboCop is at it's best as a first person shooter

Sure, the story is a dud, but I can appreciate the ambition. Throughout the narrative you will need to make choices, and these do seem to have a bit of an impact on things as you are able to choose between either a violent or peaceful approach to given situations. Unfortunately, with the poor acting and performances it was hard for me to care about any outcomes, and I would have preferred skipping through the cutscenes entirely. In fact, I would have preferred the narrative to not be such a central focus in at all.


RoboCop: Rogue City is at its best when it's a First Person Shooter, not having players meander through gorgeous but often lifeless set pieces. As a shooter, the game is competent, but when it tries to become a narrative driven adventure full of aimless side quests and awful detective work, the rust begins to show.


Game progression flows something like this: Shoot your way through bad guys, get dumped off in a police station and other open area and either complete some of those boring side quests I touched on earlier, or skip them and advance the story. My hunch is most players are going to want to skip them but do know that doing so means missing out on experience which levels RoboCop up and missing the opportunity to do them in the future. So, in a way, it felt like I was being punished for not wanting to participate in the game's duller moments.


A screenshot of the leveling system in RoboCop: Rogue City
The leveling system in RoboCop: Rogue City

You heard me right, RoboCop: Rogue City also features some light RPG elements where you gain experience not so much by killing enemies, rather through finding random items and secrets or rescuing hostages. Every 1000 or so experience points converts into skill points that can be placed on RoboCop's skill tree. Upgrades include combat, armor, vitality, and even other skills like engineering and deduction. You'll need a certain amount of skills unlocked to open and unlock some items throughout the world. Upgrading your gun is a separate tree, and honestly pretty confusing. Again, appreciate the ambition but I do wonder if any of this was necessary at all.


The shooting sections of RoboCop are where any semblance of joy comes from. Here the developer feels at least a bit more focused and comfortable. The gunplay mechanics are solid, though you won't exactly find anything new or remarkable. Aim down the sights and blast thugs in explosive fashion as the set pieces lend themselves well to the carnage. Explosive barrels, landmines, and hilarious physics make for a few fleeting moments of entertaining arcade action. The game is not so much about taking cover, but rather trudging forward and blasting away and honestly does a halfway decent job of balancing the speed and feel of the character of RoboCop. You'll take your shots yes, but RoboCop also absorbs them pretty well. Should things get hairy, you do have healing items that can be activated, though they do need to be found and you can only hold so many at a time. Regardless, on the normal difficulty level of which there are four to choose between it always felt like it was more about the spectacle and less about the challenge. You can pick up a decent assortment of guns off of defeated enemies' corpses, grab thugs by the throat and hurl them, or even toss chairs and other environmental objects. You have to wonder what could have been if the team truly focused all of their energy on being a first-person shooter instead of tacking on so many unnecessary filler content in between.


Sadly, in terms of performance RoboCop malfunctioned on me perhaps more than any game I have ever reviewed here at I Dream of Indie Games. The overall framerate on PC was actually quite good on my 4070 during gameplay and I was even able to achieve epic settings at 4k 60FPS, but sadly I would have to hold my breath almost every transition in the game that it wouldn't crash me back to Desktop. This happened so often that at one point I had to call it quits entirely. There are only so many times you can run through the same areas in hopes of your game working. Luck would have it that the game featured less crashes on my Steam Deck, so once I regained my composure, I was able to bounce between formats and hash together this review that way, but it was an absolute nightmare. Rogue City does not seem to like Nvidia graphics cards much and will clearly require further optimizations. I hope and pray a day one patch is issued so that you don't have to experience what I did, but I do have to exercise caution in recommending this to anyone that is planning to play on PC as my experience was truly terrible. If wanting to play on Steam Deck, you'll obviously sacrifice graphical fidelity as low settings are where you'll be. This will net you a fluctuating framerate between the 20s and the 40s that isn't really ideal. It's playable this way but not all that enjoyable.


A screenshot of shooting action in RoboCop: Rogue City
RoboCop: Rogue City features some less than stellar voice performances outside of the titular character

It's a shame because, when functioning, RoboCop: Rogue City features some lovely visual effects and sets. Sadly, you can also see where corners were cut. Explosions look a bit canned, and while character models are honestly pretty good, the animations are awkward and unnatural. Still, some of the lighting is quite fantastic and overall, this is the best-looking iteration of RoboCop we've received in videogame form. It's a shame that technical hiccups hold back the entire package. From a sound design standpoint, I think I've harped on the dreadful acting enough, but I do have to credit some of the music and sound effects which are pretty good, and even feature a few compositions from the films. The satisfying squirt when you pop off a headshot never gets old. All in all, RoboCop should have been a pretty package, but the developer took some perhaps necessary shortcuts in the end that detract from its successes.


That's kind of the story with RoboCop: Rogue City. Instead of being a fun arcade style shooter we get this awkward hodgepodge of ideas that results in a bit of a mess. The story misses the mark, the game is marred with glitches and crashes, and while the shooting can be enjoyable, it isn't enough to deal with all of the other headaches that are present. RoboCop: Rogue City has some neat ideas and even a few moments of fun but not nearly enough to deal with its many flaws. I very sadly have to award this one the Indie Krampus. I understand this review isn't going to stop a diehard RoboCop fan from picking this up, but I would urge extreme caution in rushing out for this one at launch. Even if the game is fully patched and runs flawlessly, it still doesn't offer up enough fun or excitement for even the most hardcore RoboCop fans. Avoid.


Pros:

+ Decent shooting mechanics

+ Nice visuals at times


Cons:

- Dreadful voice acting

- Painful detective work and side quests

- Crashes and glitches are common

- Mediocre RPG elements


The Indie Krampus award for games to avoid in their current state
Indie Krampus




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