My backlog from 2023 is a mile long, but I’m surprised it took me this long to get to RoboCop: Rogue City. If you grew up in the 80’s, 90’s or early 00’s, it's a safe bet you've seen RoboCop. While there have been plenty of RoboCop games before, nothing comes as close as RoboCop: Rogue City does to make you feel like you’re the titular shiny policeman with a hand cannon tucked into his leg. This is a game that was designed for millennials.
RoboCop: Rogue City is a first person shooter with a surprising amount of narrative beats. It takes place between the movies RoboCop and RoboCop 2. Unlike RoboCop 3, Peter Weller returns for Rogue City, providing the voice for the now cyborg Alex Murphy, or as Omni Consumer Products (OCP) designated him: RoboCop. There are some other familiar faces around, including RoboCop’s parter Lewis. Unfortunately, only Weller returns to reprise his role, while everyone else is voiced by kinda sound-a-likes that deliver wooden performances.
I was half expecting RoboCop: Rogue City to be a corridor shooter with a few cutscenes in between to give context to the action. Instead, Rogue City takes a more Deus Ex: Mankind Divided approach by putting you into large (not quite open world) locations where you can explore and fight crime. You can even write tickets for cars parked illegally. It’s really impressive with the level of detail to the RoboCop world, but it also makes you feel more like a cop than just a killing machine.
There are a lot of interactions with NPCs, too. You have some moral choices to make, usually siding between the corporate fascist OCP, or the government of Detroit that is just trying to do the right thing. Whether you help certain people or not will have consequences for the future, but they mainly affect story beats only. And there is so much story. There are main plots and side plots galore.
And that brings me to my first and most significant complaint about RoboCop: Rogue City: there is almost too much story. I’m glad Rogue City isn’t a corridor shooter, but I’d also like there to be less breaks in the action. It feels like for every few minutes I get to play with my gun out there is at least 5 minutes of exposition waiting around the next gameplay corner. And while these side quests and conversations with NPCs aren’t horrible, they take time away from what makes Rogue City fantastic: its gunplay.
RoboCop: Rogue City does an excellent job making you feel like RoboCop. You clomp around with weight. You twirl you sidearm with gusto. And you take down perps with little to no remorse. Sure, you're a cop so you can’t just shoot everything that moves, but more often than not thugs will take out their guns, inviting their gruesome demise. There are hostages you have to look out for occasionally, but luckily the hostage sequences are spread out to not feel overbearing.
Everything about the combat feels great, from the sounds to the firing of the gun. There is even a RoboCop appropriate targeting system that highlights enemies. It’s an amazing feeling to clomp through firefights taking out perps with a burst of the iconic handcannon. You can pick up other weapons along the way as your enemies drop them, but I found myself sticking with RoboCop’s overpowered pistol–mostly because of the upgrade system that turned it into a really fun gun to use.
While not exactly an RPG, there is a simple skill system in RoboCop: Rogue City that lets you enhance everything from your damage to your conversational skills. You can also upgrade RoboCop’s sidearm by switching out different circuit boards, each with their own potential for modifiers that change multiple aspects of the gun, from its fire rate, how much damage it does, etc.
Like I said before, RoboCop: Rogue City feels like a game for millennials. But it stands on its own, without much prior knowledge of the franchise. However, if you’ve seen the movies Rogue City is a real treat, full of the ultra violence and dark humor that made the original movie so popular.