The legendary lawman RoboCop is no stranger to video games, with several attempts made over the years to put gamers in Alex Murphy’s iconic armour. But this latest effort, from developer Teyon and publisher Nacon, is the most authentic – and best – yet.
Taking place between the 2nd and 3rd films, RoboCop: Rogue City features an original story and Peter Weller reprising his role as the titular character. This new tale is solid, and feels distinctly RoboCopian; the city of Old Detroit has been hit by another crime wave, with a new enemy – “The New Guy” – threatening the peace and order. Through explosive gunplay and intense investigation and police work, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a shadowy conspiracy full of twists and turns. But the sheer fun of being RoboCop will soon make you lose interest in the story and cutscenes, if only to get back to shooting and punching and throwing criminals.
Yes, the cutscenes – superbly acted, if a little wonkily animated – and dialogue trees do quickly become more of an annoyance than anything else. That’s not to say they’re bad or as plentiful as you’d find in, say, Metal Gear Solid – but once you’ve had your first taste of stomping through an enemy compound violently laying waste to goons, that’s all you’ll want to do. The game is admirable in its focus on police work and more little sidequests like taking a get well soon card around the precinct to collect signatures from colleagues, and there’s a chance that a game made up entirely of RoboCop action might become tedious – but probably not as tedious as this threatens to get. When I think of RoboCop, I think of the violence and action. Not distributing parking tickets on the streets of Old Detroit. Thankfully, the developers put in a sprint(ish) mechanic so at least you’re not marching around at RoboCop’s usual sluggish pace while you’re undertaking these more mundane tasks.
All the hallmarks of modern gaming are here, with the usual character progression and skill trees also becoming a little dull. The needlessly convoluted firearm upgrade system is frustrating, too. But unfortunately, you’ll be doing very well to find a modern game that doesn’t get itself bogged down in all of this sort of stuff, so
Graphically, Rogue City is fine – it won’t be mistaken for a triple-A title anytime soon due to some clunky animation in cutscenes and occasional texture pop-in. Glitches are certainly plentiful, too – but at least here, you can dismiss them as being RoboCop malfunctioning? Maybe? Some glitches are written into the story as RoboCop has flashes back to his old life, but they are much more clearly signposted as intentional and not just something wacky like a chair getting stuck to a goon’s head. But the film’s 1980s visuals are faithfully captured, and Old Detroit feels alive and lived in.
RoboCop: Rogue City is, on the whole, solid entertainment. The action sequences – which are many – are ridiculously fun, as you shoot heads and limbs off nameless nutters or throw them into explosives. It’s a riot that feels distinctly RoboCop and is certainly one of the most authentic film-to-game adaptations ever made as a result. When focusing on absurd ultraviolence and bullet-laden carnage, Rogue City is utterly terrific. It’s the quieter moments – necessary though they may be to break up the mayhem – that kill the momentum and bog things down. Perhaps a better move would have been to make this a short, arcade shooter rather than crowbarring in sidequests, progression, and other RPG elements that feel somewhat out of place.
Still, fans of the films – and action gaming – will find a lot to love. I’d buy that for a dollar.
RoboCop: Rogue City is available now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC