Robocop is one of those quote unqote franchises that only has a single great entry in it. I mean when’s the last time you’ve heard someone talk about one of the Robocop sequels? And I can guarantee you haven’t heard anyone talk about the remake since it came out nine years ago. I assume there were some Robocop video games before this, but again, nothing you’ve probably heard much talk about. Which brings us to November 2nd and the release of Robocop: Rogue City from developer Teyon and publisher Nacon, and with that we finally have another piece of media in the Robocop franchise that’s absolutely worth talking about.
Robocop: Rogue City is a first-person shooter, and let me say right away, if you like your shooters, then absolutely go ahead and play this game. This has some of the best gunplay I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a long time. Every shot has such a visceral impact and you can just feel how it’s tearing through anything it touches. And this is where Robocop: Rogue City really excels. It’s a power fantasy of the highest order. In this game you become Robocop. Half man, half machine, all cop. An absolute unit of destructive power and combat efficiency.
Part of that feeling of being an unstoppable force that destroys anything your bullets come into contact with, is the destructible environment you’re often fighting in. So as you’re walking in there just shooting bullets at everything you see, you either obliterate any enemy unlucky enough to stand in front of your bullet, or eviscerate any glass walls, stone pillars, or wooden furniture you hit. And if your enemy is taking cover behind something? Well, then you shoot what they’re hiding behind before you eventually shoot them.
As you enter a building you’ll be faced with armies of thugs shooting at you, but they barely even scratch your shiny robot armor. This is a shooter where you don’t need to bother about cover and hiding from your enemies. You walk in there and you take them head on, because you know you’ll kill them long before they kill you. And as you spend your skill points, which mostly just increase your stats, you only become more of an impenetrable fortress for your enemies. Robocop: Rogue City does fight that by throwing new, different kinds of enemies at you, and higher numbers of them, to the degree that by the end of the game you’ve probably eliminated the population of a small town.
These buildings you’re entering are all separate levels. Robocop: Rogue City is by no means an open world game. However, those levels are sizable and have more than enough to offer for every mission. They also look surprisingly good and have enough variety within them as to not get stale. Even if they’re all designed fairly similar as it relates to gameplay, with endless hallways that lead to rooms to have a shootout in, that leads to more hallways. Although one interesting thing that also goes back to the destructive environments, is that most levels have brittle walls in them that you can crash through, putting yourself in a temporary bullet time and surprising the enemies that expected you to come from a different direction.
While the gameplay is an absolute delight, the story is rather unremarkable. There’s a new crime boss in town and Robocop has to take him on. But when he tries to confront one of his major henchmen, he seems to malfunction. He starts to get visions of his past life, before he became Robocop, when he was just Alex Murphy. This is a problem because the entire point of Robocop is that he isn’t supposed to have emotions, all they do is make him less effective. So Robocop’s mysterious past and the new emerging criminal are the two major plot points in this game and neither are anything worth discussing in much detail. At one point, fairly early on, Robocop is confronted by a therapist who was sent to the police station to talk to him. From here on, you regularly talk to her and get to choose which answers to give. I thought this is where the narrative could get more interesting, dealing with the mental health and potential trauma of someone who by all means died while on duty, but this never goes anywhere interesting either.
But then again, does a game like this really need a great narrative? Is it not enough for it to be serviceable? Because once again, the gameplay is some of the most fun I’ve had this year, and sometimes that’s just what you get. A narrative that exists solely to give some context as to who you’re shooting at and where you’re confronting them. I honestly feel sometimes that’s enough.
Nairon played Robocop: Rogue City on PC with a review key.