While it may not have seemed so from my score, I really liked Teyon’s last outing in Terminator: Resistance. It had its shortcomings, but underneath was something completely unexpected. I mean, this was a first person shooter combined with light RPG elements and dialogue choice, in a spinoff story befitting of its namesake. Now, Teyon has moved onto another classic property in RoboCop, and even though some of my previous nitpicks still remain, the formula works even better this time around.
Let me preface that I’ve not seen the original movies. Our Editor-in-chief Ron Burke is the resident fan, and he will jump in here in a bit to chat about how this feels in comparison. The game follows Terminator: Resistance in being a spinoff of the films, so while you may appreciate this game more by watching the previous movies, it’s not required.
In this story you play as the titular character, RoboCop (the cyborg version of “deceased” detective Alex Murphy), making your way through the streets of Old Detroit to uphold the law and protect the innocent. This new narrative begins with RoboCop glitching during a hostage rescue at a news station, and of course, that’s only the start. There’s something swelling below the surface of the city, and this tale takes many twists and turns along the way.
It does so quite well too. RoboCop has the campy humor you’ll remember if you’re a fan, but also tells a compelling story. There are also serious moments though, including some that dive into near psychological thriller. For every silly “bad guy who comes into the police station to turn himself in for the reward” moment, there’s an intense one to match, like when you’re solving a political murder. I love that the tone can shift without taking you out of the experience.
This is somewhat due to Rogue City functioning closely to its source material. While no one would call it a comedy, it’s also not a full police drama either. I’d call it a popcorn flick, something with low expectations you can enjoy over a weekend. That’s not a bad thing in the slightest, especially with so many huge games releasing in 2023 that require your undivided attention and take themselves seriously.
One of the best things about RoboCop: Rogue City is that it’s oozing with influences from the movie. The rundown police station, the wooden desk riser of intake, and the dingy caged off basement section of RoboCop’s recharge station are all present and accounted for. Heading into the city, the team captures the dystopian world of “Old Detroit”, and the Unreal Engine brings it to life in a gorgeously disgusting way. As this game takes place between the events of RoboCop 2 and 3, we see a city that’s still in the grips of the designer drug, Nuke, and it’s up to RoboCop to put a stop to it.
The one area where the developers hit a homerun was recruiting Peter Weller to reprise his role as Robocop. He sounds a little more subdued and slightly less robotic, but I believe that is purposeful as we are dealing with Alex Murphy several years removed from his initialization date as RoboCop. While Nancy Allen doesn’t reprise her role as Officer Lewis, the soundalike is absolutely stellar. It lends an air of credibility to the whole experience that I sincerely appreciate.
I’m always thrilled to see a dialogue system in a video game, especially when it influences the game in some manner. Terminator: Resistance featured one, and I’m glad Teyon brought it back for RoboCop. Some things aren’t that heavy duty, just replies or exposition. Others, however, can directly influence the people or situation around you. In one instance, I convinced a thug to open a locked door and attack me, which didn’t end so greatly for him. There was even a “how the characters got along after the events of the game” ending, showing how your acquaintances from this adventure have managed after your choices. It may not be as intricate as Mass Effect, or even the recent Starfield, but it’s good in its own right.
I would like to point out a feature I didn’t know I wanted, but now I’m glad it exists. If you attempt to leave an area and would otherwise have missed side missions, the game warns you before letting you leave. This gives you a chance to head back to the level and try to close out any remaining things in the area before you might miss them.
Speaking of the level design, the open level system is just awesome. Being able to explore elevates Rogue City; going around dropping tickets on incorrectly parked cars or solving a prostitute’s murder are just a few of the great side stories available. The side missions may even be better than the narrative itself, with excellent world-building on display. You won’t be stuck in Old Detroit either, with a few trips into other large areas like an abandoned steel mill or factory. Some linear missions still come into play in-between your trips, but these set-piece moments are entertaining and do a good job of moving the story forward.
As for playing RoboCop, this is clear cut as a first person shooter. Aim, shoot, and watch thugs burst apart from the ferocity of your Auto-9. It’s as over the top as the movies, which is perfect for this game. After all, when does blowing a guy’s arm off ever get old? You’ll also be able to pick up dropped or placed weapons, which are generally littered all over the place. This gives a ton of variety, with shotguns, snipers, submachine guns, light machine guns, assault rifles, and even launchers available. You have many possibilities when tearing apart the criminals, something I don’t remember being the case in Terminator Resistance.
One of RoboCop’s signature weapons is the Auto-9, and naturally that’s a big focus of the game. As Robo uses his tactical view to spot targets, you see the green scan-line interleaved grid over the entire view, and then the signature green box zooms in and boxes the target, ultimately highlighting it with the beep straight from the movie. Unleashing the Auto-9 on that target sounds exactly as it does from the film (which used a real range with real ammo for that scene, by the way!), and I’m here for it. Murphy’s thudding footsteps as he ambles through the environment also conveys a real sense of weight. In fact, all of the sounds in the game are spot on. Teyon likely captured these directly from the films, and it shows.
Teyon has also inserted a short skill tree for RoboCop and a form of it with your Auto-9. There’s not a lot to look at, with only eight skills, but quality is better than quantity here. I didn’t feel like unlocking these was a chore, but instead gave me a sense of progression. The abilities you unlock at “checkpoints” in the tree, like a dash or unlocking a safe without a code, are resourceful and make sense.
The Auto-9’s progression is different from the skill trees in both construction and multiple nature. You collect motherboards as you play the game, which can be picked up in random places, and these can be equipped with microchips. This allows you to swap out the boards to gain different available effects, like the Auto-9 having full-auto fire or skipping reloading. The microchips you add simply give percentage boosts along with enabling the extra effects, although you have to watch out on what paths they have on them as to not accidentally activate a penalty effect as well. It’s another returning idea from Terminator: Resistance that I really enjoyed from the plasma rifles; I’m happy to see it here.
You have to hand it to Teyon, they took any criticism of the dated visuals of Terminator: Resistance to heart. RoboCop: Rogue City looks phenomenal, with some environments that are truly stunning. This extends to RoboCop himself, and some of the other characters. Specifically for the supporting characters, they all have their moments of looking fantastic and then looking derpy. And that’s when you don’t see the same one, or a variant, several times. This is a AA game though, so for what it is, it’s great.
Where things fall apart a bit on console is the performance. My framerate was jerky at times, and more so in the performance mode. Quality was better, but still suffered drops, especially when lots of characters were on screen or when entering an area where things need to load. Thankfully, everything runs smooth as butter on PC, but if you’re playing on console it’s going to be a bit rough. The mouth animations are also painfully off, which pulls you out of the immersion at times.
I also had a really odd audio bug that persisted until I restarted the game. Everything got static-y, in that it was as if all of the sound, music, and dialogue was running off a vinyl record. I never duplicated the problem, but it is there. There were other minor ones, but thankfully my time was relatively clean with nothing game breaking.
David Burdette is a gamer/writer/content creator from TN and Lead Editor for Gaming Trend. He loves Playstation, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other fandoms. He also plays way too much Call Of Duty. You can chat with him on Twitter @SplitEnd89.
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
RoboCop: Rogue City
Just like RoboCop himself, Rogue City is only human, but it’s still pretty great. With an intriguing narrative and stellar side missions, exploring Old Detroit is a real treat. Gunplay feels heavy, and engaging your friends and opponents with words as well as bullets is satisfying. In a year filled with blockbusters, this is a cult classic.