Ever since the dawn of gaming, licensed games for film and TV properties gave always been a dime a dozen. During the PS2 and PS3 eras, they developed a bad rapport with gaming fans as licenses were simply exploited for the popularity of a brand with minimal effort and production value placed on creating a truly fun and engaging gaming experience. Fast forward a decade or so, and here we are with heavy-hitting Batman and Harry Potter games that delight and intrigue gaming fans. A litany of smaller studios are crafting thrilling asymmetrical horror experiences ripped out of the ’80s like Evil Dead: The Game, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and the upcoming Killer Klowns from Outer Space. We finally live in an age where development teams (mostly) take licensed IP seriously, and RoboCop: Rogue City is no different.
Developed by the team behind 2019’s Terminator: Resistance, Teyon put their knack for the ’80s sci-fi cyberpunk genre to continued use with another beloved fan-favorite film property: RoboCop. Like Resistance, Rogue City is a first-person shooter with smaller open-world areas for players to explore and complete additional objectives on the side. You’re a cop after all. While you may have a primary task at hand, your duty is to uphold the law and serve the public trust when crime is afoot, and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to do so.
"We finally live in an age where development teams (mostly) take licensed IP seriously, and RoboCop: Rogue City is no different."
RoboCop operates a tad differently than your average shooter. This isn’t a modern run-and-gun affair. RoboCop is, well, robotic. He simply walks in his hulking metallic exterior with serious intent. Holding L3 on the PS5 picks up the pace a little but feels more like a brisk walk than a full-on sprint seen in most shooters. This absolutely makes sense for the character and doesn’t actually detract from the experience in the slightest. RoboCop is a beast and can take an extreme amount of punishment from hostile gunfire before eventually succumbing to the damage. Therefore, it’s easier to simply prioritize quickly targeting and eliminating hostiles over the need to find cover. OCP charges and parts can be found throughout the world for RoboCop to consistently repair himself. Being shot countless times is natural in this setting and all part of the experience, unlike most shooters. Holding your scan button enables you to zero in on any hostiles within your field-of-view. There’s no hiding from RoboCop. Of course, RoboCop can pick up and use any of the firearm hardware dropped by the criminals of Detroit in his bid for justice and order.
Instead of offering a linear-style story, Teyon structures the game much like Terminator: Resistance. So, if you’ve played that title, you’ll fully understand what I’m referring to. You will visit different areas of Detroit. While each area isn’t some big, expansive open world, there’s plenty of room to explore in each bubble within Detroit. You’ll often encounter side objectives that are crucial to gaining the XP necessary to upgrade RoboCop’s skills which include items such as Defense, Engineering, Vitality, and so much more. RoboCop gains access to more options the more you upgrade his skills. One skill at a particular level might allow him to unlock certain mechanisms offering additional tools, collectibles, or routes, for example. If you upgrade Vitality, you don’t just gain maximum health, RoboCop also gains the ability to use additional sources in the world to aid in repairing himself.
Rogue City doesn’t jump from shoot-out to shoot-out. Clearing a group of criminals is usually the culmination of a particular mission. In between these moments are slower more methodical elements such as detective work. But it’s never dull and only serves to flesh out the world of RoboCop. Speaking to people on the street can offer clues in your investigations. Additionally, you can choose from different dialogue options when interrogating witnesses of a crime. Rogue City even offers players a frequent choice between “upholding the law” and “serving the public trust” – RoboCop’s two primary directives. For example, you can follow the trail of a young lad who is vandalizing a building and eventually corner him in an alley. He pleads with you to let him off with a warning, but you can also choose to cite him with an egregious fine. If you issue the citation, RoboCop is upholding the law. However, the youngster promises to turn everyone he knows on the street against you. If decide to prove that RoboCop has a heart, you can let him off with a warning which is the option that serves the public trust. Despite having these two directives, RoboCop must often choose between one or the other adding a fun and engaging layer to the experience.
"Visually, the world is striking. The environments are rich in detail. This ’80s-style cyberpunk world is oozing with character. I was simply mesmerized as I saw the neon glow of street signs reflect in the puddles of water on the streets. Detroit has never looked more beautifully broken and dystopian."
Visually, the world is striking. The environments are rich in detail. This ’80s-style cyberpunk world is oozing with character. I was simply mesmerized as I saw the neon glow of street signs reflect in the puddles of water on the streets. Detroit has never looked more beautifully broken and dystopian. Despite the sci-fi theme, there are noir underpinnings with the nightlife of the streets juxtaposed against Robo’s detective work that he engages in throughout the neighbourhoods. Teyon expertly recreated the ’80s with great attention to detail like a police station full of bulky CRT monitors at every desk. The details are exquisite.
But while the world is utterly gorgeous, the human models leave a little to be desired. While the design of Detroit’s citizens and RoboCop’s comrades aren’t at all horrible, their facial animations can be as robotic as the man himself. The voice acting marrying up with the characters’ lip movements aren’t always on point, and sometimes the character models make glitchy movements during conversation. It’s not horribly frequent, but it’s noticeable and one area of the title that seemingly lacks a bit of polish.
Fans of RoboCop, however, will be thrilled to hear Peter Weller’s iconic voice behind the leading man – or cyborg. Other characters such as Sgt. Reed and Anne Lewis make a return. The soundtrack will undoubtedly appeal to RoboCop fans. The carnage during the fire fights even resembles the bloody, flesh-exploding violence that one can expect from the game. I could talk ad nauseum outlining the many intricate details, but we’ve already covered that ground thoroughly. However, it’s important to note the attention to detail and care that Teyon offers fans of RoboCop.
"oboCop: Rogue City is an experience meant for RoboCop fans made by RoboCop fans. While Teyon isn’t massive studio that has the resources to output AAA blockbuster titles, the team absolutely puts their best foot forward with the property."
At the end of the day, RoboCop: Rogue City is an experience meant for RoboCop fans made by RoboCop fans. While Teyon isn’t massive studio that has the resources to output AAA blockbuster titles, the team absolutely puts their best foot forward with the property. Long time gaming fans should understand the difference between an AAA and an AA title with the former typically being able to afford far more production value due to the backing of big publishers. With that in mind, RoboCop: Rogue City is easy to recommend to the most ardent fans of RoboCop, in particular.
RoboCop: Rogue City aims to deliver a fan-crafted experience, and it succeeds on nearly every level. With the understanding that this title comes from a smaller studio with limitations in the AA space, it’s easy to forgive the lack of polish in certain areas such as facial animations. Otherwise, Rogue City is a thrilling ride you should experience.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Beautiful world; Engaging stories, action, and detective work.
Lackluster facial animations.