RoboCop Rogue City preview: I’d buy this for a dollar
There have been games bearing the RoboCop licence before, but in 2023, it feels an odd choice. That's not because of the source material (the first movie has held up remarkably well thanks to its satirical look at corporate culture), but because many first-person shooters are built around locomotion and momentum - something that RoboCop himself, god bless him, certainly isn't.
So, how do you make a slow, lumbering tank on legs the star of a modern video game without having it feel like playing another shooter in slow motion? The answer, developer Teyon showcased in its Gamescom 2023 preview of RoboCop: Rogue City, is to just have fun with it.
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Good Cop, RoboCop
As is always the case in the RoboCop universe, Detroit is falling apart. Heavily armed gangs, corrupt executives, and the everpresent Omni Consumer Products organisation have turned much of the city into a battleground.
While it's terrible for the residents, it does make for a compelling setting for our character's story, and RoboCop: Rogue City is set between the second and third movies, with Peter Weller reprising his role as Alex Murphy's cybernetic-laden RoboCop.
Our demo of the game picks up with the gun-twirling bot foiling a bank robbery, flanked by a SWAT team, and it's pretty much just like playing through a scene from the movie.
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RoboCop doesn't need to aim down sights, so when aiming his iconic Auto-9 machine pistol, it zooms into the greenish, nineties sci-fi filter, complete with targeting square from the movie. It'll highlight areas of interest, too, including panels that can be shot to ricochet into the backs of bad guys' heads.
It's worth doing, too, because an optional objective in this demo is to take out more enemies than the SWAT team. Aside from that, there's just an almost palpable display of gore that goes with headshots, which certainly shows that Teyon understands the ultraviolence part of the assignment.
I had so much fun using the Auto-9 that I simply didn't want to switch weapons, its guttural chamber roaring back and forth as I walked through, unloading it at enemy after enemy. I watched the original RoboCop when I was much too young, but seeing the ED-209 that once haunted my nightmares as a child stomping in as backup was electrifying.
Part man, part machine
The unique properties of RoboCop mean that the player can hurl huge dumpsters, complete with ragdoll effects, at enemies, and his other abilities are particularly useful, too.
There's the option to flashbang opponents to get the drop on them, as well as a way to slow down time. The latter also appears when breaching rooms, as our robo hero punches through walls. He can even bulk up his armour for a period, but I still found parts of the demo challenging.
That's partially due to smart enemy placement - some bad guys come with grenade launchers, others with mounted gun emplacements, and that makes prioritising targets almost lightgun-esque in places.
Compared with RoboCop's slow movement (there is a dash for closing the distance to enemies or dodging aforementioned grenades), the game can feel like a throwback at times, but it works given the subject matter.
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I could go on all day about RoboCop: Rogue City. There are multiple pathways through the story, boss encounters to tackle, and much, much more.
But what I came away most impressed by was the clear love that Teyon has for the character and the franchise. RoboCop: Rogue City may not be the most hotly-anticipated game of 2023, but it's shaping up to be a lot of fun.
RoboCop: Rogue City launches on November 2, 2023.