Windows Central Verdict
Despite performance issues, stiff animations, and a general lack of real difficulty, RoboCop: Rogue City succeeds at being a faithful adaptation of the movies. It's packed with fun action sequences and amusing dialogue with an entertaining storyline that makes you feel like you have stepped into his world. It's a must-buy for RoboCop fans while being a decent weekend romp for casual FPS fans.
Engrossing gunplay and investigation sequences
Entertaining story for long-time fans and newcomers
The presentation of environments and music are top-notch
Dialog system with multiple outcomes increases replay value
The first half offers very few gunplay challenges.
Framerate sometimes suffers from too many enemies and explosions
Lackluster to non-existent facial animations during cutscenes
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RoboCop is regarded by many as one of the greatest action movies ever for its violent and exciting action scenes, comedic dialog rife with political satire alongside a dark and engrossing storyline with memorable characters. Over the years since its box office debut in 1987, RoboCop has spawned sequels, cartoon shows, remakes, comic books, and videogame adaptations. Most RoboCop videogame tie-ins, unfortunately, were decent but low-budget jaunts at their best or low-effort cash grabs at their worst.
However, today’s subject aims to be an exceptional product that honors the franchise’s legacy — RoboCop: Rogue City. This first-person shooter with action-RPG elements aspires to recapture the magic of the classic RoboCop movies in videogame form. It promises to immerse players in its universe by having them explore iconic locales from the movies, become embroiled in an action-packed storyline filled with political intrigue, and take down gangs of crooks.
As someone who grew up during the 1990s watching action flicks like RoboCop, I was impressed with the amount of effort put into Rogue City’s presentation based on the trailers. Thanks to a review code for the Xbox Series X version sent by developer Nacon, I had a real chance to determine if this game succeeds in upholding the franchise’s good name or becomes yet another commercial flop that you wouldn’t even buy for a dollar.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by review codes provided by Nacon. The company did not see the contents of this review before publishing.
RoboCop: Rogue City — Story
For those unfamiliar with the RoboCop franchise, it follows the adventures of Alex Murphy, a police officer striving to protect the citizens of a city called Old Detroit. In the first movie, Alex was tragically murdered by a group of psychotic criminals when he tried to arrest them. He was then brought back to life by a mega-corporation called Omni Consumer Products (OCP for short) as a cyborg supercop dubbed ‘RoboCop’ and has continued to fight crime ever since.
Genre: First-person shooter/Action-RPG
Playtime: 20 hours
Release date: Nov. 2, 2023
Price: $49.99 at Amazon
Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC (Microsoft Store & Steam)
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
RoboCop: Rogue City's story takes place between the events of RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3. Thanks to the appearance of a mysterious new criminal mastermind called 'The New Guy,' a new crime wave has engulfed the city of Old Detroit. Low-life crooks and gangs of all kinds have been causing chaos, destruction, and mass murder on a scale never seen before.
Our hero, RoboCop, sets out to stop this crime wave, but he will have his job cut out for him this time. He's recently been experiencing glitches that cause him to freeze in pain during the heat of battle. OCP isn't happy with this development, so they monitor RoboCop's performance to see if he is still fit for duty or if it's time to retire him permanently.
The story is rather entertaining as it is packed with intriguing mysteries, some surprisingly dark and creepy moments, decent character development, great action set pieces, and tons of easter eggs for long-time fans. It also features some well-written and funny dialogue with satirical commentary directed at politics, commercialism, and corporations, much like the original films.
One aspect of RoboCop: Rogue City’s story I wasn’t expecting was that this game has dialogue choices akin to an RPG like Bethesda’s Starfield. Throughout the game, you will have to make lots of dialogue choices that will influence the story's direction, such as the public’s general opinion of your actions, whether characters take your side, and what kind of person you wish RoboCop to become.
RoboCop: Rogue City — Presentation and performance
The presentation and performance of RoboCop: Rogue City is a mixed bag of mostly hits with a few misses. For starters, the art direction nails the look of RoboCop's retro-futuristic setting by faithfully recreating notable locations like Old Detroit, OCP Headquarters, the Steel Mill, and more with exquisite detail and atmospheric lighting. The weapons you acquire, the characters you meet, and even the 'User Interface' maintain the same designs they had in the original movies, enhancing the immersion greatly to make you feel like you genuinely entered the mythos of RoboCop.
The voice acting is also spot on as it is filled with convincing performances that help sell the game's dialogue, whether it's for serious or comedic scenes. The best part of the presentation is that Peter Weller, the original actor who played RoboCop himself, is back to reprise his role in this game, and he hasn't lost his touch. Hearing Peter Weller as RoboCop again will surely tickle hardcore fans with nostalgia as he recites his most memorable one-liners while doing the role justice during the game's more dramatic moments.
That being said, the presentation isn’t perfect. Facial animations of the human character models leave much to be desired as their faces can barely emote at all, and their movements can seem robotic and unnatural. With regard to RoboCop, this lack of facial expression and stiff movement makes sense since he’s mostly a machine but is jarring on regular humans. This results in some annoying, immersion-breaking moments during cutscenes where characters are going on emotional, dramatic tirades, but their faces don’t reflect these situations at all.
Performance-wise, RoboCop: Rogue City holds up for the most part on Xbox Series X. It runs smoothly at 1080p with 60 FPS until you get into firefights with dozens of enemies and multiple explosions on-screen at once. At that point, the framerate and resolution take a nosedive, but thankfully, this only happens on rare occasions. There were also a couple of glitches that forced me to reload to a previous save file due to objectives not loading properly. Still, these are also sporadic incidents, which hopefully won’t affect your gameplay experience alongside expected post-release patches.
RoboCop: Rogue City — Gameplay
The gameplay of RoboCop has a linear, chapter-based structure where you will be placed into various locales ripped straight from the RoboCop movies and be tasked with primary and secondary quests to complete. Some chapters will have you storm the hideouts of crooks, while others will have you go on police investigations downtown to chase up leads to do with ongoing cases and more.
By completing objectives, killing bad guys, and collecting criminal evidence, you will earn experience points, which you can use to upgrade RoboCop’s stats on skill trees. These upgrades include increasing maximum health, attack power, defense, etc. Investing experience points into skill trees will also unlock powerful abilities to use in battle, like being able to dash, reduce incoming damage with a shield, slow down time to line up your shots, and more.
Upgrades don’t just stop with RoboCop. You can also enhance his trusty sidearm machine pistol — the Auto 9. By installing it with motherboard chips you find throughout the game, you can customize the Auto 9 with all kinds of passive perks. For example, you can augment it fire without reloading or fit in armor-piercing rounds to deal with heavily armored enemies.
During firefights, you can also pick up all kinds of firearms dropped by enemies to give them a taste of their own medicine. These weapons range from pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and more unique weapons taken from the movies.
You’ll need these weapons and upgrades because as you clean the streets of Old Detroit of criminals, you will eventually encounter more difficult enemies who will reduce you to scrap if you’re not careful. Criminals will start employing more firepower like heavy machine guns, and you will come face to face with bosses that RoboCop fans will be familiar with, like the intimidating ED-209.
An unexpected wealth of gameplay variety
Much like the dialogue options, I wasn’t expecting this game to jump back and forth between action-packed FPS shootouts and then slow down to more methodical RPG-like investigations. The investigation segments serve as relief from the action-heavy segments and are a good opportunity to earn extra experience points to help you complete the action segments more efficiently.
These investigation segments are faithful to the original movies as there were scenes where RoboCop goes on patrol to intervene in smaller crimes separate from the main plot, as no crime is too big or small for him to handle. Although, I wish I had access to RoboCop’s dash ability outside of combat, as exploring the streets of Old Detroit to find and complete sidequests can be a little tedious due to RoboCop’s absurdly (yet movie-authentic) slow walking pace and running speeds.
The action segments are, without a doubt, the best part of the game. The controls felt tight and comfortable to use, the abilities and weapons were fun to play with, and blasting enemies into a shower of viscera and gore was extremely satisfying (especially when the RoboCop theme tune started playing). The gameplay during these moments makes you feel like you are RoboCop – an unstoppable, walking tank that only enemies equipped with heavy artillery have the slightest chance of beating.
The price of becoming an unstoppable killing machine
Unfortunately, this power fantasy is a double-edged sword because, in its attempts to be true to the source material, the game comes off as extremely easy during the first half of the adventure. I played the game on Hard Mode, and provided I didn’t get cocky and charge into the sights of heavy machine guns; I blitzed through most of the enemies with barely a scratch.
Not to mention, the enemies’ AI isn’t particularly smart, as they like to rush you down without any thought of self-preservation. This made it easy for me to lure them into chokepoints and thin their numbers to conserve my health kits and ammo.
The difficulty does get a much-needed jumpstart by the halfway point once enemies start deploying more firepower, encouraging me to think more strategically about positioning and what abilities to upgrade. However, their mindless, easily exploitable AI doesn’t improve, and I even managed to trap a mini-boss in a corner, leaving it helpless as I put it out of its misery.
I still had tons of fun regardless of these hiccups purely for the arcade-like action. So, I advise tempering expectations and not going into this game wishing for a challenging, hardcore experience to get the blood pumping; otherwise, you'll be disappointed.
RoboCop: Rogue City — Should you buy it?
You should buy it if...
✅ You’re a RoboCop fan and enjoy first-person shooters with RPG mechanics
This game is a well-crafted love letter to the RoboCop franchise, complete with surprising but welcome RPG mechanics and an entertaining story with satisfying and explosive gunplay. It also has replay value thanks to the game’s dialogue choices, offering different outcomes to the main story and sidequests.
You shouldn't buy it if...
❌ You prefer fast-paced and more difficult shooters that focus on action
The overpowered abilities and slow mobility of RoboCop, combined with the incompetent AI of most of the enemies, may disappoint those looking for a challenge. Not to mention, the game’s pacing of jumping back and forth between over-the-top shootouts to slow-paced investigations may turn off gamers who want action and nothing else in their first-person shooters.
By the time the credits rolled after my 20-hour playthrough, I was pleasantly captivated by RoboCop: Rogue City. Its well-written story kept me engaged, the investigation segments provided interesting and rewarding diversions, and the combat system was satisfying to indulge in. Not to mention, this game does a great job of representing RoboCop in videogame form with its faithful art direction, sound design, and gameplay ideas.
However, there are a plethora of technical shortcomings that hold the game back. The combat segments lack any challenge due to dense enemy AI for half of the game, the emotionless facial animations can be distracting, and the general pacing of the game may be a turn-off for those expecting RoboCop: Rogue City to be a pure-action game.
It may not be one of the best Xbox games, but I can say without a doubt it is the best RoboCop game ever made. If you’re a RoboCop fan who grew up watching the movies during the 1980s and 1990s, this is a nostalgic thrill ride you should not miss.
If you’ve never seen the RoboCop movies before and are a casual fan of first-person shooters, RoboCop: Rogue City is still a fun title that stands on its own merits and is worth your time if you can look past its minor flaws.
RoboCop: Rogue City is set to release on November 2, 2023, for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5, and PC via the Microsoft Store & Steam.
Alexander Cope is a gaming veteran of 30-plus years, primarily covering PC and Xbox games here on Windows Central. Gaming since the 8-bit era, Alexander's expertise revolves around gaming guides and news, with a particular focus on Japanese titles from the likes of Elden Ring to Final Fantasy. Alexander is always on deck to help our readers conquer the industry's most difficult games — when he can pry himself away from Monster Hunter that is!