Review – RoboCop: Rogue City
I started paying extra attention to Polish developer Teyon after enjoying their take on the Terminator franchise. Terminator: Resistance wasn’t amazing, but considering the team’s limitations, it was pretty good. It showcased Teyon’s talent with making licensed games with limited budgets. So I was wondering what Teyon would be able to do with a bit more of a budget and access to brand new tools to craft a brand new game, one not tied to any imminent cross-medium release, and not forcing them to abide to ludicrous deadlines. That game ended up being RoboCop: Rogue City, and boy oh boy, did I have fun with this one.
A RoboCop game isn’t exactly something people were begging for the past few years, due to a combination of the franchise’s overall dormancy, the current social landscape making anything overly pro-cop a sensitive subject matter, and the fact most RoboCop games released over the past decades haven’t exactly been very good. That being said, the initial reveal showcased impressive visuals (courtesy of Teyon being one of the first adopters of Unreal Engine 5) and Peter Weller reprising his role as Alex Murphy, the titular RoboCop.
So what do we have here? Not unlike Terminator: Resistance, RoboCop: Rogue City is a first-person shooter with slight RPG mechanics, some of which feel right at home with the setting, others feeling a bit bloated and unnecessary. This game features a very unique take on first-person shooters in general, because you can’t sprint, take cover, jump, or crouch. You are a god damn hunk of metal with a surprising amount of health and armor, so this almost feels like you’re playing a mech game mowing down hordes of maggots coming at you.
RoboCop is one hell of a tough son of a gun. His trustworthy pistol features infinite ammo, making other weapons available in any given level feel borderline useless in comparison. The initial pistol is strong, packs one hell of punch, and is surprisingly accurate. Add in the fact the controls on PC are responsive enough, and you end up getting one of the most unbalanced (on your favor) first-person shooters in recent memory, and that’s not a point against RoboCop: Rogue City. On the contrary, you feel like a menace towards the scumbags who dare to try to kill you.
The game starts off with a fantastic introductory level inside a TV studio attacked by a gang of punks and drug dealers. It’s a linear level, and none of the enemies in it pose too much of a threat, but Teyon knocked it out of the park with this neat tutorial that basically showcases how ungodly overpowered you are during combat sections. The combat is absolutely bloody and ultraviolent, with headshots turning enemies into gut piñatas, blood splats covering walls, and dismembered limbs decorating the environment. Unreal Engine 5 is put into good use during these sections. Upon reaching the end of this level, where plot-related twists and turns occur, you will be then presented to the second half of what RoboCop: Rogue City has to offer: being a cop.
Between hanging out at your local police precinct, as well as patrolling the streets of a small, but rancid section of Detroit, RoboCop: Rogue City‘s pseudo open-world section is mostly comprised of investigative work, completing sidequests, and a bizarre emphasis on applying fines and parking tickets. Yeah, you read that right.
The detective work and sidequests walk side by side. You will be roaming around the streets of Detroit, meet a cop, and learn about a case. Go to the designated place, look for clues using your “RoboCop vision”, and you can pile up evidence for the mystery, which will usually lead you to another area to explore, or give you a warrant to arrest a specific person. It’s not very deep, but every once in a while, doing this detective work is fun, even though you will rarely need to wield your gun during these segments. The problem lies on having to go to different areas in order to explore. RoboCop is a hulking piece of tin, so even when you press Shift and start running, you are still slow as molasses.
The problem with these “cop sections” is that they go on for too long, and are really slow-paced. Applying tickets to cars parked near a hydrant is also quite lame, even though you’ll still do it because it’s really easy, it makes RoboCop utter some dumb catchphrase, and it gives you experience points. Upon amassing enough XP, you’ll level up, being able to upgrade one of your stats, such as deduction, engineering, dealing with the public, and of course, combat stats such as strength and bulk. Whilst anyone’s initial reaction is to increase RoboCop’s combat-centric stats, it is very important to level up your deducting skills, for instance. The game throws dozens of sidequests at you, and they are very useful in these situations.
Sadly, the more I was told to do sidequests, the more I started craving for some shooting action instead. Don’t get me wrong, these quests aren’t poorly written, and everyone does a good job voicing NPCs, not to mention the fact that Peter Weller himself voices RoboCop to utter perfection. But they go on forever. There’s also the fact that the combat is so freaking fun, all you really want to do is go back to business and mutilate wrongdoers with extreme degrees of violence.
I was also impressed with the overall lack of crashes, glitches, or other performance problems that have plagued this initial batch of Unreal Engine 5-powered titles. That’s not to say RoboCop: Rogue City is pristine with its usage of the engine (some visual glitches do show up on character faces on occasion), but every single tool available is used in a smart manner. NPC models look varied, and their facial expressions are decent. Environments are detailed, without ever taxing my computer’s GPU too much. DLSS works as intended, and the framerate is stable. The game never crashed or froze. Even though I had no access to manually save it, and would have vastly appreciated the possibility to do so, I’d never particularly lose saved data upon simply deciding to exit back to the desktop.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I just wanted to dedicate a final paragraph to what’s the best aspect about this game as a whole: Peter Weller. His overly robotic, but still slightly human portrayal of the character is a phenomenal way to make the story even more impactful. Sure, listening to RoboCop ask for people to stand in an orderly line at the police department sounds (amusingly) silly, but whenever things get serious, his portrayal is more than enough to push the plot forward. Not to mention the lifelike character model used in the game, complete with his trademark kissy pout.
RoboCop: Rogue City is a game basically comprised of two parts. Whenever you are thrown into one of its shooting sections, it is easily one of the best first-person shooters I’ve played in a long, long time, as well as an impressive showcase of what smaller studios can do with Unreal Engine 5’s tools. It’s just that impressive. Whenever you’re told to perform street patrolling or detective work, it’s still a decent, time, but you’ll wish you’d be thrown into another action-heavy set piece instead. Nevertheless, despite some pacing issues and an occasional lack of focus, I’m very impressed with what Teyon was able to achieve. With both Terminator and RoboCop, two franchises which had previously never succeeded in the gaming realm, becoming hits under their wing, I can’t wait to see what they will come up with next.
RoboCop: Rogue City takes advantages of Unreal Engine 5’s tools to come up with somewhat realistic and detailed graphics despite the developer’s staff and budgetary shortcomings. The game looks quite impressive, but it’s prone to a handful of visuals glitches here and there.
As a first-person shooter, it is devoid of a handful of traditional movement mechanics due to the nature of the titular RoboCop. Still, the controls are excellent, and the combat is stupidly punchy. Open world investigative segments are very shallow, and a bit of hassle due to the protagonist’s slow movement.
Between Peter Weller reprising his role as RoboCop, the decent score, and the terrific (and punchy) sound effects, I was throroughly impressed with this game’s overall sound design.
Whenever RoboCop: Rogue City throws you into a first-person shooting segment, it becomes one of the most entertaining shooters in recent memory. Whenever it throws you into sidequests and open world sections, it entertains you, sure, but you’ll be asking if you couldn’t just go back to the shooting sections instead.
Final Verdict: 8.0
RoboCop: Rogue City is available now on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.