RoboCop: Rogue City Review
To say I’ve been excited ever since development team Teyon announced RoboCop: Rogue City would be an understatement. The original 1987 RoboCop is an all-time classic, filled to the brim with over-the-top action. Sure, it also has its fair share of campy acting and cheesy dialogue. But like so many movies from the 80s, that’s part of RoboCop’s charm. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of RoboCop: Rogue City. Instead of being a fun throwback to the past, Rogue City is the epitome of what it means to be stuck in a bygone era.
Rogue City tells an original story set between the events of the second and third films. Peter Weller – who played RoboCop throughout the initial trilogy – thankfully returns to reprise his role as Alex Murphy. I credit Teyon for bringing Weller back, as his performance is easily the highlight of Rogue City. Weller has effortlessly slipped back into the character. So much so that he ended up being the single driving force in pushing me through Rogue City’s 20+ hour runtime. And thank God he did, as the narrative nearly put me to sleep on more than one occasion.
In fact, it’s almost ridiculous how by-the-numbers Rogue City’s script is. Old Detroit is (naturally) a cesspool of crime, drugs, and murder. At the heart of it all is a generic, dime-a-dozen villain who’s hellbent on continuing to see the city burn. I’m not saying a game based on RoboCop needs to be Shakespeare. There’s no reason a script with a bit more nuance couldn’t have been written, however. As in the films, RoboCop struggles with fleeting memories of his past. These do work to add some depth to the plot, but they’re more often than not drowned out by the exhaustively mundane events that surround Murphy.
Having some of the most mediocre acting I’ve ever seen in a game also does the writing no favors. As mentioned, Peter Weller is solid. However, everyone else ranges from subpar to downright awful. Murphy’s partner from the films – Anne Lewis – is back, but her voice actress is so atrocious I wish she weren’t here at all. 95% of the dialogue sounds like it was recorded with standards from 15-20 years ago. 2023 has seen games like Final Fantasy 16, Spider-Man 2, and Baldur’s Gate 3. The bar has been set higher than ever before. Quite frankly, the performances in Rogue City are unacceptable.
It should also come as no surprise that Rogue City’s character models are equally as unimpressive to the eyes. RoboCop looks excellent, but everyone else looks like a mannequin pulled from a Sears department store. Accompanied by stiff, awkward animations, there were times I legitimately had to remind myself that I wasn’t playing a game from 2005. Old Detroit looks fine. At least most of the time. Rogue City does offer some nice lighting effects. But far too much of the city is indistinguishable from one location to another.
Rogue City looks its best, however, when engaging in combat. The moment-to-moment gunplay isn’t anything to write home about, but enemies do explode in a satisfying mess of blood and chunks. This is, by far, where Rogue City best captures the carnage fans of the movies have come to love. There’s something inherently gratifying about working your way through a seemingly endless number of bad guys, painting the walls red as you do. Plus, making use of objects in the environment, like computers, dumpsters, and motorcycles to clean house, is something you don’t get to experience every day.
Unfortunately, as you blast your way through stage after stage, it’ll be impossible to miss Rogue City’s technical shortcomings. Roaming the streets reveals a mess of pop-in issues. Audio bugs and lip sync issues occur far too often. And I’m not sure how many times I would have my crosshair directly on an enemy or explosive, only to shoot right through them. Coupling these with a baffling number of loading screens, there were far too many moments I found Rogue City to be an unpolished slog. I wanted to like this game. I hate that I have to tell you that the truth is, I don’t.
If you’re a diehard fan of the RoboCop franchise, you may find merit in RoboCop: Rogue City. Regardless of my disappointment with it, I can’t deny that it’s the best RoboCop game we’ve seen. Just keep in mind that isn’t exactly saying much. A weak narrative, archaic character models, generally horrific voice acting, and a slew of technical issues hold Rogue City back from being the game I desperately wanted it to be. Admittedly, shootouts can be fun, but I’m not convinced that alone saves what otherwise feels like a letdown. Much like RoboCop’s enemies, approach with caution.
***A Steam code was provided by the publisher***
- Peter Weller is stellar
- Good gore effects
- Gunplay can be fun
- Weak narrative
- Overall horrific voice acting
- Awful character models
- Bugs/loading screens