Crime Boss: Rockay City Review - Screenshot 1 of 4

If you've ever watched Michael Mann's sublime 90's crime caper Heat, and specifically the famous heist scene within it that ends in a prolonged running gun battle down the streets of LA, you'll know the exact tone and flavour that Czech developer INGAME STUDIOS was hoping to nail with Crime Boss Rockay City.

This Payday clone, in which you and a bunch of buddies - or AI bots - perform what should be super-stylish robberies, has put all of its hopes - and seemingly an absolute ton of cash - into nailing this cool and edgy vibe from another era. It should work, it could work, we desperately want it to work! However, this is one heist that ends in a messy bloodbath before its crew has had time to pull on their ski-masks.

Crime Boss Rockay City absolutely knows it's bad too, you can tell by how it so desperately frontloads all of its (incredible) star power and its killer soundtrack into the opening minutes of the game. Within moments of booting into this one you've met flashy video game versions of Michael Madsen, Kim Basinger, Vanilla Ice, Chuck Norris, Danny Glover (our favourite of all the Dannys) and Michael Rooker. You've taken part in a daylight shootout against police and SWAT units as ICE-T's 1992 classic Bodycount's in The House blasts away in the background. It doesn't look half bad in places either and, for a brief window in those opening moments you may just find yourself thinking you've got your hands on a certified banger.

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It's a window that's violently shut closed on your hopeful little fingers almost immediately though. A quick fumble around the three uninspired gameplay modes on offer here reveals a terribly basic and hackneyed co-op shooter that's got all dressed up into its best 90s gear and then fallen asleep on the way to the party. We kicked off our time with this one by jumping into the single-player story campaign, Baker's Battle, an incredibly messy - almost nonsensical - set of bland missions that attempt to dazzle you with their star power whilst frogmarching you through small, linear maps packed full of insta-spawning dullard enemies who make a beeline for your position with zero tactical nous.

The actual gunplay here is excruciatingly bad. Weapons are limp and forgettable, with shots failing to give any sort of satisfying feedback or response as they connect. AI bots stand around and wait, run straight into fire and make a nuisance of themselves, and the dialogue...well, deary me, the dialogue. We're not sure how much INGAME STUDIOS forked out for all of these movie stars but when you've got them reading dialogue this embarrassing it perhaps would have been a better idea to invest in some writers who didn't think that throwing a bunch of lame cuss words into every single sentence makes things edgy and cool.

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Moving on from that terrible solo mode and you get two weak co-operative efforts that do little more than throw you into the exact same scenarios and maps you've played through in Baker's Battle and, with weapons, action and AI as bad as what's here, it's almost impossible to drum up any sort of fun, regardless of whether or not you've recruited some eager pals to help out. There's just no joy to be had in such a sloppy, old-fashioned and bland shooter. That's really the bottom line here. The core of this game is weak and no amount of Michael Madsen, Kim Basinger or Vanilla bloody Ice is going to fix that.

There are a few fleeting moments where you can almost see something better. There are crumbs of a somewhat decent game along the way. Launching into heists you can't help but feel a little enthused, you're about to do a cool Michael Mann-style robbery. This should be awesome. Let's get it right, let's do this with style to spare you think, let's be stealthy, take out the cameras, tie up the guards, slink past witnesses, shut down the surveillance room, pull off this robbery like the absolute De Niros we are. That's what should happen, that's what the game is aiming for. However, without fail, heists deteriorate into a shambles because of bugs - oh hey, that cop just spotted me through a brick wall! - and shoddy mechanics. Nothing ever manages to get into a decent flow and you end up shooting through an endless barrage of dullard cops and SWAT units as you try to flee the scene of yet another mess.

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We could go on, there are so many issues here, but let's keep it short and sweet. Crime Boss Rockay City is a terrible videogame, it's an experience has virtually no redeeming features. Its misuse of a stellar cast is cringe-inducing, its dialogue comes across as having been written by a 13 year old who's just discovered bad language, and all of its game mechanics, from shooting to stealth to co-operative aspects and narrative setup are less than half-baked. We're giving it some points for the soundtrack and some nice digital recreations of a few of our favourite movie stars and ending this review with a recommendation that you play any other co-op shooter you can find. Do not be fooled by the flashy flashy bling bling, there's nothing but misery and disappointment here.


Crime Boss: Rockay City is a star-studded shambles, a dull and basic co-op shooter that's the very definition of all mouth and no trousers. Desperate attempts to dazzle with Hollywood movie stars, and an admittedly sweet soundtrack, they can't long hide the fact that the actual gameplay here; the shooting, the heists, the campaign and co-op action are janky, dated and bland beyond belief. If you're looking for a co-op shooter, we suggest you play literally any other game you can get your hands on, because what's here is a cynical and almost staggeringly poor mess.