There was once a time when movie tie-in games were everywhere, and RoboCop has seen his fair share of middling titles over the decades. Luckily, during my hands-on RoboCop Rogue City preview session at Gamescom, it became quickly apparent that Teyon and Nacon love this franchise as much as I do. There’s still some room for improvement, but the titanium-clad bones of a solid RPG shooter are apparent.
RoboCop Rogue City features an open-world design similar to the Deus Ex games, favoring detailed, smaller districts over large sprawling maps. For my preview, I was tasked with foiling a heist at OCP Bank, but RoboCop himself needed a few tweaks first. The iconic cyborg utilizes an array of upgrades, implemented by swapping out modular chips into RoboCop’s motherboard. Where other RPG titles might allow players to just pool all their points into specific stats, I was impressed to see that Rogue City rewards brains as well as brawn.
Each part of RoboCop’s motherboard features slots with different shapes and pathways. Putting different chips in is a mini-puzzle in itself, which requires some calculated planning if you want to truly maximize RoboCop’s power. There is a trade-off too, as some chips may open up pathways to very powerful buffs, but with a slight degradation to your overall stats. I decided to amplify RoboCop’s accuracy, making his auto-lock feature disgustingly awesome.
Breaching into the OCP is a no-holds-barred assault. The legendary Auto-9 pistol bursts away with movie-accurate sound design, accompanied by the heft of RoboCop himself. Speed isn’t the way to dispatch enemies here. I appreciate how developer Teyon isn’t catering to the traditional laws of FPS movement here. Despite confirmation from Nacon that Paul Verhoeven has no involvement with the game (its partnership is purely with MGM), there is still an incredible sense of respect for the filmmaker’s vision. RoboCop feels appropriately tanky, barging his way through bullets and blood. There are an array of abilities at my disposal, including bullet-time and a rechargeable dash.
Triggering bullet-time sees the heads roll and pop in the vein of Paul Verhoeven’s memorable gore, and I fucking loved it. The franchise has always contained dark humor, and it is clear that Rogue City is pushing that sensibility forward. RoboCop’s futuristic tech is absolutely spot-on too, another testament to this game’s quest for pleasing RoboCop diehards. His user interface highlights possibilities to ricochet bullets off the environment, which can lead to some brilliant kills. There’s even the option to upgrade them to a split ricochet shot later in the game apparently, allowing you to eliminate multiple foes at once.
Aside from RoboCop’s pistol, I found myself picking up any and all weapons on the floor, swapping them out like a bullet buffet. However, the weapon that surprised me the most? A dumpster. Yeah, you read that right. The humble land of trash disposal played an unexpected part in my pursuit of a criminal gang, following them into their warehouse lair. Grabbing the dumpster emphasizes just how strong RoboCop is as I launch it at enemies like throwing a frisbee. Throwing enemies themselves is fun, but ripping and tearing them Doom Eternal-style is just plain great.
Peter Weller’s signature line delivery is glorious to hear again. He’s not missing a beat back in the role, but it’s the dialogue elements of RoboCop Rogue City that have me slightly concerned. It is a double-edged sword with a character like RoboCop. I’m told by a developer that dialogue trees with different outcomes are said to play a huge part in the game’s narrative. Yet, with a character as monotone and direct as RoboCop, I can foresee it being a struggle to keep actively engaged or care about the plot unfolding.
There a multiple endings to the game, according to publisher Nacon, as well different endings for quests. One small tweak can affect how RoboCop is perceived by other characters, potentially hiding away rewards and lore. RoboCop Rogue City also takes place between RoboCop 2 and 3, so there is room to tell an action-packed story, but as I wasn’t able to explore the game’s more detective-based elements, I’m hoping that the game doesn’t fall into a trap of repetitive gunfights. I’ve only explored one small facet of Detroit here, and despite those concerns, I’m eager to see what the RoboCop Rogue City release date has in store.
Keep your eyes peeled for more previews, interviews, and coverage of Gamescom from The Loadout over the coming days.