RoboCop: Rogue City Review (PS5) – RoboCop is one of the ‘classic’ films of my youth, from a bygone era of cheesy action movies I adore. I remember watching it as a young impressionable lad and thinking how awesome it would be to be a robotic police officer upholding the law with a steel fist. Fast forward to 2023 and we have a video game where I can actually live out that dream, thanks to Teyon and Nacon’s RoboCop: Rogue City.
All I really knew about this game or its developer is that they also made the quite well-received Terminator: Resistance in 2019. I imagined this game would be a cheesy, turn-your-brain-off-corridor shooter set in a dark world I remember from the movies. For better or worse, I was bang on the money.
RoboCop: Rogue City Review (PS5) – Well Trodden Territory
Is this The 80s?
Rogue City takes place between RoboCop 2 and 3 and is a standalone story in its own right. It starts off with a Prodigy wannabe taking over a TV broadcast station and you, RoboCop, are despatched to put ‘em down. Rogue City certainly starts bombastically and screams classic RoboCop.
Story-wise, while there were some interesting bits with Murphy struggling with his lot in life. Unfortunately, I found most of it trod ground already covered in the movies. Co-workers struggling with an android team-mate, Murphy getting replaced or shut down and gangs of thugs that need quenching. I feel, that even though it was enough to propel me through the game, I wish the devs pushed the proverbial boat out a little.
The opening few parts of Rogue City are very linear. Shoot some bad dudes, collect some evidence, scan stuff and take part in rudimentary FPS shenanigans. Not too long after that though the game opens up a tad with smaller open-world sections and side quests. Some of these side quests were quite entertaining and did give you some other threads to pull on in this dark, dank world.
A Basic, Classic Framework
There are some minor upgrades to do that reward more experience or allow you to heal at healing stations but this is a very minor part of the game. Most of the time you will be shooting and hiding round corners, which to start with felt ‘old-school’ and fit the timeframe the game portrayed but felt lacklustre and unrewarding the further I got into the game. In the end, the combat sections started to show their age and repetitiveness.
You can throw objects in your environment which I found amusing; I always wanted to lob a computer monitor at someone and watch them explode and fly through the air. Some of the ragdoll physics and dismemberments are hilarious and yet again, add to the overall retro feeling of the game. I am still not sure if it’s intentional or not.
Rogue City feels dated, to say the least. Whether it be the pixelated bright green UI or the clunky, plodding movement of our favourite metal law enforcer, every ounce of this game feels ripped out of a time long gone by. Some of this works but unfortunately, some of it does not.
For Good or Bad, RoboCop Feels Dated
What works is how this game brings back the feelings of the movie. When enemies appear on the screen they get highlighted in light green and how you trudge through corridor after corridor, very slowly, really induces feelings of being a metal law-enforcing death machine. As does the narrative, which, as mentioned, was both familiar and a bit too safe.
What does not work is how dated some of the mechanisms, controls and graphical details felt. It’s a very pure gameplay loop that in the end, felt old and tired. The cutscenes glitched out often and some of the facial animations, especially fresh off the back of Spider-Man 2, look very antiquated. Outside of the two main characters Murphy and Anne Lewis, most NPCs and characters look very stiff and ultimately, lifeless.
The AI and combat were so predictable, enemies took cover now and again but most of the time just stood there and waited to be shot in the face. I mean, I love shooting fools in the face but it seemed like a hollow victory more often than not. Apart from a few difficulty spikes here and there, I found the game on the whole quite rudimentary. There were some interesting fights and encounters but on the whole, it was uninspiring.
A Tale of Two Halves
I found the overall graphical presentation a bit two-faced. On one side some of the open night-time areas looked great, boasting realistic reflections and some nice atmospheric night scenes really made Rogue City come alive. Then, in the next scene, you were met with a wooden, glitchy NPC and some really low-quality indoor textures. It’s a tale of two halves that work against each other, it’s very strange.
Did I tell you I love the RoboCop theme? Well, I do. Every time it was peppered into the game, in differing arrangements, it made the hairs on my next stand up. Apart from that though the other audio parts of the game were also lacking. From average voice acting to muddy sound effects, it was all very average. I will give the developers the benefit of the doubt by believing it was a design decision, adding to the overall 80s vibe of the game.
Fun in Places But Ultimately Flawed
I wanted to love RoboCop, I really did. What I ended up getting was, as long as I looked at it from the era RoboCop was set in, an enjoyable, if flawed shooter. Graphically and from a technical standpoint, it’s all over the place. Sound-wise, apart from the main theme, it’s passable and from a gameplay perspective, it’s decidedly average.
However, with all this being said, there is some entertainment to be gained from stomping through waves of bad guys as RoboCop. The pureness of its design is initially refreshing and some of the gameplay is genuinely fun. I definitely will say though, if you were not a fan of Robocop or have never heard of him, you will not enjoy this one. Nostalgia is doing most of the heavy lifting here.
RoboCop is out now on PS5.
Review code kindly provided by the publisher.