You never know quite what you’re going to get when a beloved ’80s action film series is adapted into video game form. After 2019’s Terminator: Resistance and the improved Enhanced Edition, Teyon are stepping up to the plate once again with RoboCop: Rogue City. Can this game capture the spirit and tone of the original films?
Set after RoboCop 2, Rogue City can happily ignore much of the… less beloved parts of the RoboCop film and TV series. That iconic militaristic theme is ready to lodge itself in your brain, while Peter Weller reprises his role from the first two films – there’s also likenesses for a bunch of other key characters – and the highly addictive drug Nuke remains a big problem for the city, but we don’t have android ninjas or any of that kind of craziness.
Our hands on time started right at the beginning of the game, as a big criminal fish has entered into Old Detroit’s pond, and the local gangs are making plays to get their backing. That includes raiding Channel 5’s headquarters and taking hostages right in the middle of a live news broadcast. When they start throwing hostages out of windows, there’s no holding RoboCop back from heading in.
The first person shooting of RoboCop is exactly what you’d want from the character. You stomp methodically through an area as bullets pling off RoboCop’s armour, while you just as methodically gun down the bad guys. That can be with RoboCop’s iconic Auto 9, or with uzis and assault rifles picked up off downed enemies.
It can feel like that’s pretty much all there is to it, with a steady aim and minimal recoil meaning there’s no real need to aim down sights for precise shots – the left trigger or right click will still zoom in a bit, but its main function is to add a green outline in the HUD around enemies in view.
That doesn’t make the implacable gunplay any less fun, and that’s thanks to Teyon really embracing the over the top tone and gore of the 80s films. Blood spatter is excessive, you can blow people’s arms off, and can dash closer to grab enemies and, if you’ve got one nearby, chuck them out a window. That’s justice, I guess?
You will gradually take damage, and will have to be wary of larger weapons like high caliber machine guns, but you can have up to five healing charges stored and there’s more OCP health vials to be found in the levels.
The combat revels in the same excess as the films, and the story also seems to be heading down some familiar paths. RoboCop takes a bit of a hammering through that opening mission which leads to a cracked visor and fuzzy optics, as well as flashbacks and hallucinations from when he was still just Officer Murphy. It comes just at the wrong moment and impacts his reactions in such a way to seed more doubt and distrust with the hostages he’s trying to save. Add to that some more of the usual OCP meddling once he gets back to the precinct, and Rogue City is definitely going to feature some familiar story beats. Still, with a psychologist trying to get RoboCop to sit down and talk with her, there’s the potential for an interesting new spin on these ideas.
After the action of that opening mission, it’s nice to then see how the precinct has been recreated for this game. There’s plenty of familiar faces, and as you go between a firing range and the latest patrol briefing, there’s chance to chat to certain officers and help them out. One officer wants help getting a drunk down to a cell to sleep it off, you can open up a second station at the front desk and get in a little RoboCop-styled Papers, Please action. They’re nice little touches that add more to the space.
Alongside bespoke missions, there’s also some open world areas with main and side missions to complete. Stepping out of the police cruiser and onto the streets of Old Town Detroit for the first time, it’s not the busiest city hub we’ve seen, though in fairness it is late at night in a pretty rough and rundown neighbourhood. A few homeless people huddle round a flaming garbage can, some gang members are hanging out together, and there’s the odd streetwalker who will say you’re cutting into her business by hanging around, but on the surface level there’s not much else going on. This early impression shifts a bit as you explore the area, do a bit of police work and get stuck into some missions, coming across more people in different places to interact with.
There’s a handful of things you can do while you’re out in this open area. You can slap tickets on cars for blocking fire hydrants and other minor parking violations, you can scrounge around for incriminating evidence that earns you experience points, and as you interact with people it gives you the chance to uphold the law in a strict and robotic fashion, or with a little compassion to give warnings. Naturally they’re the kinds of decisions that the game keeps track of.
There’s some broader missions to take on as well – in addition to trying to trace this new criminal mastermind, there’s also an officer missing, and the daughter of an influential person has had her car stolen. These moments blend together clue hunting and police work to gather enough evidence for a warrant to bust into an arcade’s back room, or to push a mechanic into sharing what they know about nearby chop shops. Some interactions will depend on levelling up a set of stats and unlocking or improving certain abilities, such as the visor’s scanner or adding a shockwave stun to your arsenal. Don’t worry though, because you’ll be back to that over-the-top cyborg cop action soon enough.
After playing the opening couple hours of RoboCop: Rogue City, I’m definitely keen to see and play more. Teyon has clearly tried to make sure it’s more than just a mindless shooter, and so there’s interesting open areas, basic police work, and a tone that does its best to match that of the original movies. That said, there’s also plenty of dumb, gory, FPS fun to be had here as well.