There are some names from pop culture and when you say them, people instantly know what you’re talking about regardless of their knowledge of the topic. People who don’t play video games know what Mortal Kombat is, people who don’t listen to a lot of music (or speak English even) know about Michael Jackson and you don’t have to be a big sci-fi or a movie expert to know who RoboCop is.
Movies or TV shows that ingrained themselves in pop culture are always a good choice for video game adaptations but they don’t always end up being good games. So here we have RoboCop: Rogue City trying to break that curse and make a name for itself. I’m already full of assumptions about what to expect; nut shots, iconic movie quotes, badass music, maybe a plethora of references from movies, and who knows what else. Now let’s dig in deeper and try to clean up the streets of Detroit.
The story of the game is set between the events of the second and the third movie. If that tells you pretty much nothing, allow me to refresh your memory. In RoboCop 2, RoboCop battles the gang of Cain, the cartel leader behind a new designer drug – Nuke – and eventually defeats him, but OCP recovers the body of Cain and extracts his brain for a successor model of RoboCop (conveniently named RoboCop 2) that eventually goes rogue due to his Nuke addiction, disrupting OCP’s original plans of its radical urban redevelopment of Detroit (named Delta City) and forcing RoboCop to stop and destroy Cain.
That’s for the movie segment but the story expands on the game where things get a bit more complicated. While rescuing hostages from the Channel 9 studios that were occupied by Soot and the Torch Heads, RoboCop suffers hallucinations of his past life as Alex Murphy when he sees one of the hostages bear an uncanny similar appearance to Murphy’s wife, causing him to hesitate and forcing Lewis to directly intervene. To make things worse, there is a new kingpin in Detroit pulling all the strings for all the major gangs in the city and he is simply called the “New Guy”. Spooky.
RoboCop is armed with his trusty Auto 9 gun that has unlimited ammo but you can also pick up weapons dropped by enemies and the arsenal is quite impressive. You also have explosive barrels, TV sets, PCs, and whatnot that you can use to fling onto your enemies. Can’t find any of that? No worries, just pick up an enemy and throw them into another. Two birds with one stone (or throw), as they say. The Alex Murphy edition of RoboCop: Rogue City also comes with an OCP Shotgun sidearm, damaged RoboCop armor cosmetic taken from the first movie, and a prototype version of your trusty Auto 9 gun.
Since RoboCop has that sturdy metal exterior, he only takes minimal damage from gunfire but then again, the enemies have something that you don’t. Safety in numbers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re not paying attention and things get more hectic later with new enemy types and so on. So the key is to pick them apart strategically and use the environment to your advantage. There is also a plethora of upgradeable skills that you unlock by earning XP through story missions and side objectives. Speaking of it, the game has an impressive amount of side content, easter eggs, and things to unlock. Detroit never felt so intriguing as it is deserted and on the verge of collapse.
This is where things get a bit complicated. The game looks great on high settings, that is if you can afford to run this game on high. It is badly optimized, with occasional stuttering and FPS drops during cutscenes. You could even afford to compromise here and there if your FPS wasn’t tied to aiming speed and precision. Technically it isn’t, but lower FPS causes a slower response in moving the gun, aiming at enemies, zooming in, and so on. Needless to say, the game could definitely use a performance fix or two. All in all, it looks great when you have a sturdy PC to run it.
Now for something we all want to know when it comes to this game – yes, our RoboCop is voiced by Peter Weller but that’s not all. He is also joined by his movie companions Anne Lewis and Sergeant Warren Reed. There is nothing like hearing Peter Weller saying the iconic lines of “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” or “Drop it, scum”. The voice acting for the titular and all the other characters is nothing short of impressive. The eerie soundtrack is also a good companion while you’re exploring the streets of Detroit. Sometimes it’s barely there while you go through every alley before kicking in once you stumble on some gang members.
At the end of the day, this game gives you more than you bargained for. Engaging story, plenty of side content, and great voice acting but there is one splinter here in the form of bad optimization. To get the game to a somewhat playable state you have to make some compromises when it comes to visual settings. Depending on the strength of your rig those compromises can be somewhat tolerable or bordering on unacceptable. Here is to hoping for some game-changing performance fix but so far things aren’t looking too good. If you are lucky to run this game as it was intended, you’ll undoubtedly have a blast. For everyone else, it might finally be time to start thinking about some hardware upgrades thanks to this game.
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