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HomeBig BenRoboCop Rogue City Hands-On Preview – MagnaVolt: Lethal Response!

RoboCop Rogue City Hands-On Preview – MagnaVolt: Lethal Response!

RoboCop: Rogue City

Polish game developers Teyon has had their hand at a variety of first-person-shooter campaigns in different playstyles, from rail shooters to post-apocalyptic open worlds. What all of these games have in common is a basis on 1980s action films that survived the test of time. Teyon has expanded these film franchises with titles that fit neatly into the mythos left behind by the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger and that trend continues forward with a new story that takes place between the second and third entries in the storied trilogy about OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001: RoboCop: Rogue City.

Peter Weller returns for his iconic role as the walking tank that’s known as part man, part machine, and all cop. It isn’t just Weller returning to patrol the streets of Old Detroit, as Anne Lewis and other returning cast members make the city of Old Detroit feel alive. The developers not so subtly hinted at ED-209 making a return, surely one that’s intended more for a late-game encounter. Billed to take place shortly after Peter Sellers’ second foray as Unit 001, there should be plenty of easter eggs and winks to players that are more than a little familiar with the RoboCop, although the developers promised that players could still understand Rogue City even as their first piece of RoboCop media.

The one campaign mission that I was able to play through was incredibly early on in Alex Weller’s return to the mean streets to clear out a television station that’s been turned into a hostage situation alongside fellow officer Anne Lewis. Naturally, rather than being a shrewd negotiator, the primary option is to go through guns blazing. Towards the end of the mission, an unexpected blast knocks Officer Murphy off his feet and smashes his head on the ground, causing a massive crack in his visor for the rest of the mission but also lingering echoes and hallucinations of his family and life before his unfortunate demise in the first film. Teyon has laid hints for an interesting narrative hook that I’d like to see how they pull it off in the full version.

On the surface level, RoboCop: Rogue City is an FPS campaign where you mow down gangs of Nuke junkies as a slow-as-molasses bionic police officer with a single pistol (don't worry, you can eventually unlock agility skills that greatly improve his gait). Surprisingly, RoboCop: Rogue City is much more than that. I deign to say that Teyon’s upcoming movie franchise has some System Shock roots to make the campaign much more than a hallway shooter that so many other modern FPS’ fall into. Skill checks, branching pathways, collectible evidence, and more offer some breadth into the flexibility to tackle missions in different ways rather than just shooting first each and every time.

Rebuilding Alex Murphy into more of an effective cop-cum-killing machine takes little time at all across the twenty-to-thirty-hour campaign. Each skill point neatly fits into RoboCop’s ability set in primarily new ways to lethally incapacitate Torch Heads and other wrongdoers in Rogue City. Abilities that improve the effectiveness of RoboCop’s armor might improve the durability of his metallic prison to the point where deflected bullets can bounce back to strike enemies while investing in the non-combative skillsets can give RoboCop some hacking expertise or additional dialogue options throughout the branching narrative.

Shortly after completing the introductory mission to RoboCop: Rogue City, Alex Murphy’s malfunction and delay in responding to the imminent threat of a hostage situation leaves some left wondering if he’s even fit for duty. Thankfully after a short bit of repairing and analyzing RoboCop’s data banks, the player is rewarded with their effectiveness not only for incapacitating gang members but also for detective prowess in an investigation system that was surprising for a power fantasy about the ultimate unstoppable police officer. By taking the time to scan for pieces of evidence or crime scenes, RoboCop not only gains precious experience during the mission report phase to unlock additional skills but the items he collects can yield new paths and options when it comes to completing an objective. 

During one of the side quests that rounded out my session, I discovered traces of Nuke in an arcade bathroom that led my adventures down into the basement, shot through a gang of Torch Heads that were clearly up to no good, then negotiated my way into having the arcade owner open up the door he was hiding behind rather than simply blasting through as the more straightforward option. During this final encounter, I did have an enemy clip through the floor and get stuck with just his head sticking up but I foresaw that was an unintended side effect of using an ability I picked up moments prior to ricochet bullets off of a metal grate as the perp was getting up from his seat. 

While upgradable across the course of your tour of duty in Old Detroit, the Auto-9 won’t be the only weapon in the RoboCop arsenal. Any gun that perps drop is fair game, from weaker pistols and knockoff AK-47s (nearly identical save for a straight magazine) to numerous objects to grab and throw at enemies. The fifty-round capacity on the Auto-9, coupled with a limitless pool of ammo, makes it a solid tool to begin any encounter when the heavier weapons run low. And, of course, grabbing and chucking a Nuke junkie is also a valid combat option.

RoboCop: Rogue City is already starting to look like a contender for one of the better movie franchise stories out there and if they can continue to build upon the framework of the light RPG elements and exploration, I look forward to seeing what Teyon can pull off when the Unreal Engine 5-powered RoboCop: Rogue City releases on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X, and PC later this September.

Written by Kai Powell
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