There's just something about RoboCop. Maybe it's an age thing, maybe you just had to be there, but the ultra-violent tin cop sits alongside the likes of Knight Rider, Terminator and lots of other 1980s goodies as a property that immediately gets our excitement levels right up to the max as soon as it's mentioned. We'll sit through as many awful tie-ins, sequels and computer games as we're asked to, is what we're saying, as long as we get to spend a little time stomping around in the metal boots of the Detroit Police Department's finest.
However, that series of "maybes" back there cannot be ignored. If you're not really aware of the stunning 1988 movie (yes there was only one, move along, nothing more to see here) or if you're not a devoted fan of Edward Neumeier's cyborg invention (or don't really care either way), then you may automatically be at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to enjoying RoboCop: Rogue City.
You see, what developer Teyon has produced here is a serviceable shooter that leans right into its leaden protagonist in every way. He's a big slow boy, our RoboCop - he can't jump or roll out of the way, he doesn't have a fancy spin-kick melee attack in his armoury (although his punches will mess you up) or a jetpack to boost about on. Nope - Alex Murphy, or what's left of him, is a big heavy beast to control. He also has absolutely majestic lips. There's only one real mode of attack here, and that involves blasting everything to a fine red mist while taking tons of damage. Shoot a load of guys in the head so their skulls explode, step into some light cover to refill your energy and then walk right back into the line of fire for some more.
Yes, there's a bunch of the usual skills and upgrades to unlock as you go; earning points to pump into a skill tree that gives you a few new gimmicks — defensively and offensively — to play with, but for the most part what you've got here doesn't change the tempo much between missions that are linear processions through which you stomp with only death on your metal mind. To be fair, there are some sequences where you get to have a chat, make conversation choices and alter how an NPC feels towards you, but besides these things don't change much from moment to moment.
It makes for a unique-feeling shooter - a game that can often feel very basic, tired, repetitive and old-hat, chiefly because it is all of these things - 100%. It's all very dated and has no real surprises up its sleeve; it's got weird uncanny valley NPCs, linear missions, a bunch of very run-of-the-mill guns and some of the worst grenades in the grenade business. If you don't care about RoboCop. If you are a fan though, there's something more here. There's immaculate recreations of some of the movie's most famous locations, lots of old characters make cameos, Peter Weller reprises his iconic role (enough to sell the most ardent fans) and the writing is absolutely on the money.
For as repetitive as RobobCop: Rogue City can be — and you best believe this is a repetitive shooter — it 100% nails its recreation of the look, feel and vibe of the OG 1988 movie. Of course it can't match that masterpiece in terms of its searing satire, but what it does do is give you a game that, for better or worse, allows you to accurately roleplay stomping around 1980s Detroit, unloading your ferociously powerful Auto-9 pistol into anything that moves, whilst also serving up lots of very funny dialogue and one-liners that suit the character and world perfectly.
And really that's all there is to this one. Is it an amazing shooter that serves up a bunch of new mechanics and surprises? Resolutely not. In fact it barely bothers to mix things up at all. Much like Teyon's criminally overlooked Terminator: Resistance, the primary aim here seems to be in nailing the characters and the world first and foremost, perfectly executing the look and feel of the thing it's mimicking, so that fans can ignore any mechanical shortcomings in favour of getting to roleplay their favourite iconic movie character with a big dumb smile on their faces.
Wait, are we actually just describing terrible movie tie-ins and trying to make them sound good? Well, in a way. However, Teyon puts so much effort into nailing the aesthetics and the atmospherics that its output is way beyond the usual tie-in shovelware. There's absolutely a place for this sort of above average tie-in of a classic old property. There's an exacting level of detail in the world-building here, in the recreation of 1980s Detroit, its various ionic locations, the cast of supporting characters, the one-liners and so on, that absolutely makes up for the rather average (but spectacularly bloody) shooting action. If you're a big fan of RoboCop you're going to love it. Everyone else may well be slightly confused, or just underwhelmed.
RoboCop: Rogue City is a very average shooter that becomes more than the sum of its parts through an exacting attention to detail displayed by its developers. There's some excellent world-building here, lovingly crafted recreations of places, people, cars and weapons that'll immediately excite fans and, although it's hardly electrifying, the shooter action undeniably gives you RoboCop in all his slow-moving, smart-assed glory. If you've got a love for the movie, you'll likely have a good time roleplaying here, and it's great to see Peter Weller reprise his role. However, if you've got no stake in the franchise, you may be left wondering what any of the fuss is about as this one deals in wholesale nostalgia.