Video game adaptations of cinematic franchises often fall into the trap of being opportunistic cash-ins, with only a handful managing to leave a lasting impression—for the right reasons, that is. The RoboCop series, a cultural behemoth of the 1990s, struggled to maintain its momentum through a modern reboot, with the shiny new armor falling short of the original’s monumental legacy. Given the franchise’s prolonged dormancy, the decision to bring back the classic aesthetic and vibe of the original in a video game was a surprising and bold move. Fortunately, this gamble with RoboCop: Rogue City has paid off handsomely.
Set against the backdrop of a gritty, crime-ridden Detroit that harks back to the ’90s, RoboCop: Rogue City places players in the metallic shoes of the city’s greatest asset, a seamlessly integrated fusion of man and machine. The prospect of dispensing justice as RoboCop is an inherently thrilling one, and while the game does fulfill this fantasy, it’s not without its constraints.
The game strives for an authentic replication of the era in which the films were born. A little ironically, you might critique the combat for feeling a tad too mechanical and robotic. Players will find themselves entering a room and simply standing their ground to shoot, mimicking the exact actions of RoboCop in the movies. While this may not culminate in the most exhilarating combat system, adding too much agility would stray from the true RoboCop experience. This Catch-22 notwithstanding, once players adjust to this deliberate pacing, there is a satisfying rhythm to be found in the combat.
One notable grievance, however, lies with the use of grenades. Enemies, irrespective of their stature, incessantly lob grenades, which players can neither return nor dodge effectively. This, coupled with RoboCop’s sluggish pace, a faithful homage to the cinematic portrayal, accentuates the game’s lack of speed, particularly during exploratory and investigative segments. In these instances, the game’s devotion to authenticity might have benefitted from some compromise for the sake of gameplay fluidity.
Narratively, “RoboCop: Rogue City is a delightful nod to the unabashedly campy era of ’90s action flicks. The story is brimming with the expected tropes: over-the-top injustice and narrative twists that are so bad they’re good. Moreover, the game injects depth with its psychological exploration of RoboCop’s humanity, allowing players to influence the narrative through choice, reminiscent of the poignant moments in the original film when RoboCop’s helmet is removed.
Technically, RoboCop: Rogue City is not a marvel. Its budgetary limitations are evident, yet it’s equally evident that the developers have compensated for these limitations with a commendable level of passion and meticulousness. The game wisely prioritizes its strengths, enabling players to overlook certain technical shortcomings, like subpar lip-syncing and occasional frame rate issues, because it delivers where it counts.
The campaign offers approximately 20-30 hours of gameplay, with the duration hinging on the player’s engagement with exploration and side quests. Fans of the original RoboCop films, or ’90s action cinema in general, will find RoboCop: Rogue City a gratifying experience, as it successfully captures the essence of its source material while providing an enjoyable and nostalgic journey through the crime-infested streets of Detroit