Reviewed on Playstation 5
The fact that 2023 has turned out to be one of the most impressive years of AAA videogame release, but you are reading this review is a testament to the bodacious anomaly that Robocop Rogue City is. This is a video game with a seemingly smaller budget in comparison to the litany of various games that will fight for GOTY 2023, but I can confidently say that it deserves all the praise you have been reading about it, mostly from smaller independent game reviewers but also other bigger outlets as well. The ‘you get what you are promised’ moniker would sit well with Robocop Rogue City.
From the same makers of the highly likeable Terminator games, Rogue City delivers what you could ask for, a simple shooter game that captures the essence of our steel cyborg, dead and brought back by technology to serve a modern city where policing has been outsourced to tech companies who are fusing robotics to create the so-called “perfect “ police force.
Before I delve into the review, I would like to point out that never have I ever requested so vehemently for a video game review copy after its reviews have come out, because like the majority of people even though I grew up with the Robocop movies and games, I did not pay much attention to this IP; let me tell you how wrong I was.
Our campaign starts with a straight-up 80s action movie setup with hostages trapped in a building with a bunch of baddies and to the rescue comes our knight in literal shining Armor, enter Robocop! The game does not waste time with a long introduction like a cutscene to build up the story, slowly and timely all details of the past and present are slowly unveiled.
The story could be summarized as pretty simple but the added side missions, audio tapes littered around the map, caches with some intel documents and evidence that gives us small XP do all formulate the story element of the game.
An interesting point to note and shout out to the developers is that they added an element of decisions impacting certain side mission results and also that there is an ending that can be unlocked which is considered the best ending. Now while Rogue City is not a deep RPG, the game tries to stand out with this added decision variety and while in my extensive testing, it did not impact side missions results massively it sets the game apart from your generic shooters or FPS’.
The overall story is good, decent and one of the main focal points that most gamers will be aiming for when finishing the campaign. Rogue City is a great starting point and I would love for them to explore a prequel or after Robocop 3 scenario as Rogue City is between the movies Robocop 1 & 2.
What fascinated me and was a positive from my end is the level of violence and gore which is R rated, therefore some missions do end up unfortunately sad when you fail them, this really adds to the immersion in this game and the world it has built, it’s a brutal dog eats dog world with crime rife so the consequences are evidently profound and captured succinctly by the games storytelling.
There is much room for improvement needed to make it a more engaging story to a larger crowd of younger gamers I would say and that would bode very well with future instalments.
As a first-person shooter, Rogue City offers tight gunplay which feels empowering as bullets rip through enemy skulls and decapitate baddies. There is a large variety of guns that are dropped by enemies from submachine guns to pistols, AK47 and Sniper Rifles as well.
Robocop starts with his trusty iconic Auto 9 pistol with infinite ammo which feels almost like a Sci-Fi pistol and the game includes a very useful slow-motion focus ability which produces brilliant headshots.
Alongside guns, Robocop is equipped with a sleuth of various other abilities such as grabbing enemies to shield against bullets or throwing at other enemies, using your right foot to deliver a devastating kick to KO opponents.
To further add what separates this shooter from others in the genre, there are various attributes into which XP can be allocated which unlocks some pretty cool stuff like shockwaves, shields, auto regeneration, fuse box recovery, dashing, hacking turrets, and cracking safes. enhanced slow motion and some more. Gameplay therefore while mostly shooter-based with these added abilities keeps the short campaign even more exciting and more incentive to do side missions so that more XP is accumulated to further unlock more abilities.
A special mention is dedicated to side missions as a lot of the best one-liners and funny dialogue is delivered here. The game does not present tantalizing characters when it comes to side missions, but they help to break away from the main story and sometimes you find recurring characters who feel more invested if you have completed their previous side missions.
A memorable and haunting mission called Ghosts of the Past delivers with the great narrative the struggle Robocop feels trapped inside this body with memories locked in his human brain, moments like these are where you feel the developers took extra care in being faithful and setting the game apart from just another generic Robocop game.
Visual & Graphics
Graphical fidelity-wise, Rogue City is fully built on Unreal 5 which was my first astonishment yet again for this AA game. The facial animation on some characters feels quite good with commendation on how the eyes feel lively but there is some inconsistency at times where it feels like more detail could have been added to give it more depth.
This is where the game shows that while it used Unreal 5 with great shadows, good low-level lighting and great particle effects with flying around litter for instance, the lack of items that can be interacted with other than mission-specific shows its limitation. This is not a bad thing as the game never promises from the get-go to compete with AAA heavy hitters such as Spiderman 2, Alan Wake, and Baldus Gate 3 but within its resources, it does a stellar job.
The game has a lot of missions based on linear portions of the map with open areas such as garages, and Detroit city during the nighttime. While the low-level lighting might feel you won’t see much detail, that is not the case entirely. The crime-ridden streets with antisocial behaviour and streets littered with trash and homeless people aesthetic the game was going for is presented with great effort. This is a fact that gamers going into the game need to take into context because if they do not, this can then be a disadvantage if they are looking for a more vibrant, asset-heavy-looking game which is never the case.
The police station is your home base that you keep coming back to at the end of every mission and it has multiple rooms such as – locker rooms, a basement lockup, a radio station and an assessment room. While these might all seem at first have a lot of detail initially, here is where you can feel that the developers could have added more interactable and changing scenarios.
The sound design for the game when it comes to the radio broadcasts you can tune into whenever you find one in the game to the almost always running background music add to the feel of being transported to the 80s.
The bullet ricocheting of enemies and different surfaces seems well implemented and so do the older tracks you can find when on a mission visiting an older arcade for example, there is authenticity when listening to a Pacman-looking video game being played by the NPCs.
Rogue City does a decent job with the overall sound and music, especially the background music which keeps you grounded in the cold steely crime-infested streets and world of Old Detroit. Once again this is another stellar inclusion for fans of Robocop who I think will truly appreciate its impact on the game and how you feel when playing through its campaign.
Robocop Rogue City is a good first-person shooter with a great sense of what its source material is. The game stays true to its origin by being monotone as you would expect the protagonist to be while also capturing the essence of a conflicted cyborg with memories plaguing his sense of duty and his identity of what he is now.
The story is delivered in multiple ways if gamers care to explore the game 100% and what works well for the game is also the addition of various attributes that impact the way you can play the game and can aid you in dialogue choices to help unlock safes including added XP and more items.
While the game is more targeted towards the core audience who have an inkling or idea of what Robocop as a story and character has been in the past, this is also a curse for new gamers who might not be that patient to find out about him as the game unfolds.
I feel Rogue City does a stellar job for a double AA game in introducing us to a beloved franchise that was hugely popular in the 80s and is relevant today as we grip more with AI and Robotics. For Rogue City to come out in 2023 and still be relevant and fresh is a truly noteworthy achievement. I give it a 7.5/10 as a score and recommend it highly if you are a fan.