Crime Boss: Rockay City Review

Crime Boss Rockay City character art header

The heyday of PayDay and PayDay 2 kind of passed me by, but with a third game expected sometime in the next year, Crime Boss: Rockay City felt like the perfect opportunity to finally dip my toes into the co-op heist genre. At first, things seemed promising, but then the monotony set in, and the bugs, the bad acting, and eventual waning enthusiasm.

Yeah, Crime Boss isn’t great.

First, I gotta talk about the cast. You’d hope that with a line up of big names from early 90s crime cinema, the performances could only be gold, but everything feels forced and as if they are bored. I suppose it’s what you get when you throw movie actors into voice actors territory; they just don’t give the same performance.

It doesn’t help that the writing is cringe-worthy stuff. I felt like I was playing a GTA of old, with over-the-top clichéd stereotypes making the same jokes over and over, attempting to get a small giggle out of the audience.

Michael Madsen is the star of the show as Travis Baker, sounding gravelly as ever and looking like Madsen in his prime. Then you have Kim Basinger, Vanilla Ice and Chuck Norris to name a few, all lending their likeness and voices to their roles. I think the main offender has to be Michael Rooker – who I adore by the way – with his character Touchdown who, you guessed it, makes a quip about American football every five minutes. It’s cute at first but after the fiftieth time, I was like, “yeah we get it, you like football!” This, on top of the non-stop child-like banter really grated on me after a while and I ended hating a few of the characters,

Crime Boss Rockay Cast

In one scene, Vanilla Ice and one of his crew are repteated telling one of his groupies to “shut up, bitch” every time she interjects. Once again, it felt a little out of time for modern days audiences and a little cringe overall.

The icing on the cake is Kahn’s gang often being referred to as just the “Asian gang” or “savages”. The dialogue is lazy and sometimes offensive. It’s obvious they wanted that mid nineties crime flick vibe, but they missed the mark and didn’t update it for a modern audience.

A lot of this dialogue comes in the first of the three modes on offer: Baker’s Battle. This sees Travis Baker try to rise to the top of the Rockay crime world, battling against rival gangs and a determined Sheriff Norris in a bizzare roguelike adventure. I say bizarre because it really doesn’t fit the game style.

When Baker dies, you are kicked right back to the start of the campaign with nothing but the boss upgrades you earned for yourself and your entourage. On paper this sounds okay, except that the minute-to-minute game play is tedious, buggy and repetitive. It’s bad enough that you might have spent four to five hours building up a pretty nifty empire, but to lose it all and have to repeat those same dull missions over again is soul destroying.

This works in a game like GTA, because you invest time in building up your ‘empire’ and the missions are fun, but here it’s quite the opposite. Missions consist of either robbing gangsters, robbing banks, robbing jewellery stores, robbing armoured vehicles or attacking and defending turf. The tutorial mission gives you a basic idea of how things go – intimidate innocent bystanders, zip tie them up and proceed to go on the rob, taking out security as you go. Then, you and your crew load up on loot and haul ass back to your van to dump the goods. Sounds easy, right?

Crime Boss Rockay City – shootout

Missions almost never go smoothly, with A.I. partners not nearly being as intelligent as you’d want. Bystanders appear sporadically and in one situation, I was tying up one lad when another casually walked past, paying no attention to the fact I had a gun pointing directly at the person on the floor. Possibly a bug? Well, it happens a lot. I tried stealthing a lot through segments, but missions almost always resulted in a fire fight. With bullets flying, the cops turn up, and this turns it into a bit of crap shoot thanks to clumsy shooting mechanics. Even with a target reticle lined up perfectly on a stationary enemy, I could still fire and somehow manage to miss. The cover system also works sporadically, sometimes hiding you, sometimes not. Once again, it’s a roll of the die, meaning the difference between life or death if caught in a bad spot.

And not dying is vital, because as mentioned before, if you choose to take Baker on missions and he bites the bullet, it’s back to the beginning. I mean, you can take a team of generic thugs on missions, but then you won’t earn Boss XP, so it’s a big risk rewards factor. You really need those boss upgrades in order to make dying and starting again worthwhile. The upgrades consist of beginning with more territories, starting with more cash, and having a larger starting army, to name a few. And you want a big army so you can attack the territories of rival gangs. You can choose how many thugs to send (a minimum of ten), and they essentially act as lives. You play as one thug and if you die, you’ll take over control of another. The first team to eliminate all opposing thugs takes the turf and adds to the daily cash flow of your criminal empire.

So there’s some empire management present, but once again, losing all the hard work over the course of hours and having to repeat the same missions over and over becomes tedious very quickly.

Crime Boss Launch

The other two modes available almost feel tacked on and void of any kind of soul. Crime Time just lets you get together with friends to do random missions on the map with no real objective or progression. You can earn cash which lets you buy more gear, but to what end? It’s a mode you’ll likely only try a few times before inevitably going back to Pay Day, if you want to play something with your friends.

Urban Legends is a set of quick and unimaginative mini campaigns where you can do missions with either the A.I. or friends. You can unlock some unique teammates for Crime Time, but who honestly cares at this point.

I really wanted to like Crime Boss: Rockay City, but it just feels like it was haphazardly thrown together, and the result is a game that feels like a bad copy of a popular franchise, with the tired actors, awful dialogue and repetitive gameplay really putting the boot in.
  • Managing your criminal empire has potential
  • Danny Trejo is in it!
  • Terrible acting and dialogue
  • Roguelike gameplay mashup just doesn’t work
  • Repetitive missions
  • Bad gunplay
Written by
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.