“GREAT FOR FANS OF CLASSIC ROBOCOP AND FANS OF CYBERPUNK. OKAY FOR EVERYONE ELSE.”
ROBOCOP: ROGUE CITY is a first-person shooter developed by Teyon and published by Nacon. It also stars Peter Weller, the original Robocop, as the titular character. As the resident cyberpunk junkie of the site as well as a longtime fan of the franchise, this was obviously going to be a day one purchase for me. However, it came with the sweeping sense of dread that can only come from the fact that Robocop has a history of truly awful sequels and bad adaptations.
There’s just not that many people able to soak up the original’s anti-capitalist mixture of comedy as well as brutal violence. The fact the game takes place between Robocop 2 and 3 (or outright takes place in an alternate continuity) is the biggest argument for the developer’s receiving a chance from me. Robocop 2 wasn’t nearly as good a movie as the first and took a ridiculous stance on the War on Drugs but was still the last genuinely good product from the franchise unless you count the Frank Miller comic book version.
Anyway, the premise for Rogue City is that there’s a mysterious new player in Detroit’s underworld called “The New Guy.” I admit, not the best start for establishing a villain and the game does kind of suck at naming it villains as well find with murderous gang called the Torch Heads. The Torch Heads have seized a TV station as part of their attempt to reach out to this new crime boss and Robocop must do what Robocop does best: kill a bunch of baddies before unraveling a mystery that undoubtedly somehow ties to OCP.
Generally, the gameplay is “fine”, which is not really ringing endorsement but not a condemnation either. You walk slowly through the game killing people with your pistol and other guns. If you get close to them, you can lethally throw them around. It feels very much like a rail shooter with slightly more freedom of movement. Robocop is slow and even moving quickly is more like, “normal walk” instead of “slow serial killer walk.” This is true to the Eighties Robocop but not necessarily the best gameplay.
The storytelling is better than I was expecting even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. In addition to the slaughter of criminals, Robocop can and should do investigations into various crimes around the city. This ranges from the usual, “There’s been a hooker murdered by one of her Johns” to “busting up a ring of car thieves.” You can also ticket drunks, graffiti artists, and guys who have leaking oil from their car. If you enforce the law vigorously, you get “Uphold the Law” points and if you enforce the law mercifully, you guy “Serve the Public Trust” points.
Really, the best part of the game is when they stop to do some actual character development of Alex J. Murphy. Murphy is suffering a horrific fate as an enslaved super-soldier with very little of his body left, driven only by his desire to help others while OCP wants to use him as a weapon. Too many installments of the franchise act like being Robocop is just a kind of superpowered upgrade versus a dreadful curse.
I give massive points to the game for including Lewis when so many other adaptations consider her optional or use a Lewis substitute. I’ve always felt Nancy Allen’s Lewis was a vital part of what made the first two movies work (and why I hate the third). She provides a lot of emotional support that allows Murphy to survive from night to night.
Still, this game suffers from the fact that it feels like it is a generation or so behind the current generation if not two generations. The graphics aren’t great, the gameplay is fine, and the storytelling is okay. Still, I’m going to say this is probably a 3.5/5 rather than a 4/5 let alone a 5 out of 5. If you’re a big Robocop fan, this is a great buy but it’s absolutely not a must buy. Nine to twelve hours of gameplay is probably best waiting for a sale or a trade-in.