RoboCop: Rogue City Review

by Gamingstry
RoboCop Rogue City

Release Date : November 2, 2023
Developer(s) : Teyon
Publisher(s) : Nacon
Platforms : PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

RoboCop may be one of the most iconic fictional characters in cinema, alongside the Terminator, Xenomorph, and Predator, but he never really had the honor of a proper videogame adaptation. In 2023, a studio decided to take up the challenge, which has not failed to provoke a reaction from fans of the saga. Teyon was responsible for the failure of Rambo: The Video Game. However, the Poles seem to have learned from their mistakes. Far from being the purge we expected, RoboCop: Rogue City could well be one of the end of year’s surprises. Time to explore Detroit’s notorious underworld.

This RoboCop adaptation is intended mainly for boomers and other cinema lovers who grew up in the 80s. As a result, this FPS published by Nacon is full of references to the first three films. Whether it’s the places you pass through, the characters you meet, the weapons you use, etc., everything here is a pretext to strike a nostalgic chord with RoboCop fans. Teyon Studios are well aware of this, and are targeting this devoted community who have been waiting 35 years for a RoboCop video game to match their hero’s exploits.

Rogue City has the intelligence to integrate perfectly with the original trilogy, to the point of becoming a canon. The events portrayed in this shooter are a direct follow-up to RoboCop 2, and introduce the main issues of RoboCop 3 with a certain “finesse”. It also deals with the profound nature of its protagonist. Human? Machine? Both? Or simply a policeman? Alex Murphy asks himself these questions as he confronts certain memories from a distant past. This narrative arc, while interesting to follow, ultimately leads nowhere.

The other choices imposed on players follow the same logic, ultimately leading to RoboCop 3 rather than an ending determined by your actions. However, Nacon does include the services of Peter Weller, an American actor who returns to the role of RoboCop three decades after taking off his armor.

Unfortunately, all these good intentions come up against a harsh reality. No matter how good and respectful the story is, a shooter of this scale requires a decent budget, which RoboCop: Rogue City doesn’t seem to have. The staging is not inspired enough to do justice to the hero’s action, except for the sequences that reproduce shot-for-shot scenes from the films, particularly the first one directed by Paul Verhoeven. The gameplay-cinematic transitions are another sign of the lack of resources allocated to the project. No matter how well-written, such a story would have deserved a cinematic vision worthy of the myth!

This shooter often manages to surprise with its detailed portrayal of a dystopian Detroit plagued by poverty and crime. This former industrial city, now in ruins, is gradually falling under the influence of Omni Consumer Products or “OCP”, a corporation in line with the cyberpunk revolution, which seeks to replace the government and control the city. RoboCop: Rogue City swings between the ordinary and the technically mastered, with its visual effects and semi-destructible sets. However, Teyon had a good idea of opening up its FPS via semi-open zones that break the linearity inherent in the genre.

This approach encourages Alex Murphy to roam the streets and alleys of Detroit to help citizens in need, but the creature ends up turning against his creator. These areas are few and far between, creating a frustrating sense of repetition, and suffering from a narrative structure that forces you to complete all – often repetitive – objectives before moving on to the next chapter, or you’ll fail. What’s more, the side missions are quite repetitive and offer no real interest, except for those in search of experience and therefore power (see below). RoboCop ends up wandering through the city automatically, moving from one objective to the next simply to progress through the story.

A shooter’s main interest lies in its action sequences, which must be breathtaking, explosive, and capable of renewing themselves throughout an adventure requiring 8 to 10 hours to complete. RoboCop: Rogue City once again blows hot and cold, but comes through with honors. You’ll often be doing the same thing – taking out hordes of hooligans and punks – but always in style. Nacon’s FPS manages to convey through its gameplay the excessive, devastating power of an indestructible and (almost) unstoppable policeman.

The many confrontations are pleasant and sometimes thrilling, and do justice to the films (especially the first two) with their characteristic gore. And with no surprise, the enemies’ AI is only there to bring them to life and make up for their lack of reactivity with sheer numbers. Even the boss battles that should enhance the experience rarely make the grade, but still don’t disappoint. Fortunately, the bestiary is varied enough to spice up the battles. Enforcing the law in a bloody, good-humored way will give the players a thrill, and that’s what it’s all about.

Alex Murphy investigates and sweeps through the various crime scenes to uncover clues that will advance the plot. On paper, this desire to make RoboCop a real law-enforcement agent and not just a “tank” is admirable. Yet the pleasure of the initial investigations is quickly replaced by the nagging feeling of doing the same thing over and over again. Nothing evolves in this respect from the beginning to the end of the adventure. The police investigate to move on to the next stage of the story, nothing more.

Adding role-playing mechanics has become a common practice in 2023, even for “old-school” FPS games, and RoboCop: Rogue City is no exception. Teyon allows our cyborg policeman to gain experience, unlock passive and active abilities, and significantly improve his service weapon by collecting items in the levels. This RPG aspect seeks to immerse players in this science-fiction universe, but in reality has little impact on the gameplay experience. RoboCop remains RoboCop against all odds. Everything else is an illusion!

RoboCop: Rogue City is a respectful and effective adaptation of the legendary sci-fi saga of the same name… nothing more, nothing less. The shooter developed by Teyon and published by Nacon applies the “old-school FPS” formula to the letter, but does so with some success. Ultimately, RoboCop: Rogue City will thrill fans of the franchise, as well as all gamers in search of 80s action.

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