Unleash the 80s with RoboCop: Rogue City, a brand new adventure in the world of cyborg police in Delta City, developed by Teton and published by Nacon. This is a semi-on-rails first-person shooter that engrosses you completely in the metallic skin of its titular character, from the sound design down to the moral quandaries you’ll be faced with at every turn. Enforce the law or serve the public trust. Can you fulfill both ends of your prime directive without costing one another?
Putting this very question into your own hands as you embody RoboCop is the first part of what makes Rogue City an impressive game. It would be easy to just look at the aesthetics of the IP and iterate a game about delivering mechanical justice in a corrupt city. It’s a whole other experience to spend your time deciding how to interact with civilians, whether to issue tickets or let a crime go, or just take a certain time with your colleagues and suspects. Every movement through the game requires you to make a choice, and those choices affect the game’s outcome through subsequent chapters.
Movement is the other big piece of RoboCop: Rogue City. The first instant you boot up a new game, you hear the servos whirring in your mechanical joints. Your heavy footsteps, as you move a bit too slowly for comfort, are loud. It’s all immediately engrossing from an audio-visual perspective. While the slow physical movement is a bit clunky over time, it also is necessary to create the kind of near-on-rails shooting the game excuses so we’ll.
You’re not literally on rails; you’re given the freedom to explore your environments as you please, backtrack, look for collectibles and crime evidence, and find alternative routes into rooms you’re breaching. Between the shooting portions, you’ll have somewhat more open, exploratory detective segments with loads of well-built side characters and evidence to scan. But the pathway through most levels is linear, and your left trigger initiates a tracking mode that feels reminiscent of when targets would appear on classic arcade rail shooter enemies. Plus, like in many classic games, you cannot crouch to hide behind walls and objects in the environment. Removing this staple of modern first-person shooters not only makes the game feel like the 80s era of its progenitor but completely changes the calculus of risk and reward between standing in the open and shooting, hiding vertically behind walls, and looking for alternative guns and throwables with which to dispatch enemies.
The choice itself is not groundbreaking or even something I would like to see in more games, but it’s so befitting of RoboCop that it feels like Rogue City simply couldn’t have been constructed any other way. Your character is also upgradeable with perks that slowly accumulate through completing missions, side tasks, and killing enemies, especially by scoring high in said missions. These perks are not necessary to complete the game, but early on, you will encounter locked safes and unusable recharge panels that quickly make you feel like you have to upgrade yourself quickly, or else you will miss out on getting the highest scores possible on missions.
The game isn’t very long though, so as you inevitably miss side missions, evidence, and doors you can’t find alternative ways to unlock, you’re incentivized to try again on another playthrough. Especially since your moral decisions will impact the game’s results, too. You’re also welcome to completely skip the side missions and move along at your own pace. The upgrades to your perks make a marginal difference in gameplay ultimately, so there’s never gameplay or difficulty pressure. It would just still feel nice if you leveled up a bit faster.
Where you do see results quickly is by upgrading your handy Auto 9 built-in handgun. You can’t upgrade it immediately, but after the first few missions, you’ll encounter chips that contain different potential perks and stat increases. Using one chip at a time, you fill out the motherboard with junctions facing different directions, like in a classic piping puzzle. After you collect enough from boxes scattered around the game, you’ll start to have enough to cancel out negative effects and maximize your damage, armor piercing, and other stats, as well as unlock perks like bullet splitting and endless clips.
Some of RoboCop: Rogue City’s gameplay can feel a tad slow, between the snail’s pace movement and the nearly-on-rails nature of the shooting components. But its level of emersion is impressive, and the mechanics like crouching that it removes from the modern FPS formula don’t feel missed in the one-man-army, high-octane firefights that make up the core of the game.
RoboCop: Rogue City is available November 2nd on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4|5, and PC.
RoboCop: Rogue City
RoboCop Rogue City’s level of emersion is impressive, and the mechanics like crouching that it removes from the modern FPS formula don’t feel missed in the one-man-army, high-octane firefights that make up the core of the game.