Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PS5, PC
Release Date: 09.2023
Whether or not you agree that Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is one of the best action movies of the 1980s—and it definitely is—you’d have a hard time arguing it’s not one of the most idiosyncratic.
On one hand, it’s an action movie, packed with shootouts and no shortage of violence. On the other hand, it’s a biting satire of American consumerism and corporate greed, dripping with a retro-futuristic visual style all its own. On a third hand (look, maybe this is like an extra cyborg hand or something), it’s a sometimes-philosophical exploration of what it means to be human, imbued with a surprising amount of heart.
The sheer lightning-in-a-bottled weirdness of it all may be why it’s been 20 years since we last saw Alex Murphy—the mild-mannered police officer killed in the line of duty and resurrected by the sinister megacorp Omni Consumer Products, as RoboCop—in a starring role in a video game. (And the less said about that 2003 effort the better.) Recreating what makes RoboCop special is certainly no easy task.
With the upcoming RoboCop: Rogue City, however, developer Teyon is prepared to take on that challenge. “We are incredibly passionate about creating a game that truly captures the essence of the original RoboCop films,” said game director Piotr Łatocha. “Our main goal is to fully immerse players into the gritty, corrupted world of RoboCop, making them feel like they are walking the streets as the iconic hero himself.”
Lest you think the team is focused on the action at the expense of everything else that made RoboCop such a memorable film, Łatocha also cited recreating the “intense, heavy, and satirical tone” of Paul Verhoeven’s original 1987 movie as a major priority.
In terms of genre, Rogue City is a first-person shooter, but Teyon isn’t forgetting that there’s more to Alex Murphy than blasting bad guys. You’ll also spend some time doing actual police work and exploring environments that go well beyond a simple shooting gallery.
“While shooting is certainly an important aspect of our game, we’ve also put a lot of focus on creating a rich storyline, encouraging exploration and investigation,” said Łatocha. “In some levels, players have the option to choose which objectives to pursue, some of which involve action-packed gunfights, while others center on investigations or interactions with side characters.”
Rather than trying to directly adapt the events of the films, Teyon has instead opted to tell a new story that slots into the existing canon, taking place between the events of RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3. “Working closely with MGM, we have made every effort to ensure that our game is fully complementary into the franchise’s lore,” Łatocha noted.
Still, while the story is new, the team also made certain to include plenty of sights, sounds, and faces that will be familiar to fans. As RoboCop, you’ll be able to explore environments lifted directly from the movies, which Teyon recreated in detail by studying both footage of the scenes and the real-world locations where they were filmed. You’ll also battle against established enemies like the bipedal OCP Enforcement Droid. And, of course, you’ll be able to wield RoboCop’s signature gun, the Auto-9—you know, the pistol he keeps holstered in that nifty little leg compartment.
According to Łatocha, the Auto-9 is Rogue City’s “main weapon,” and you’ll be able to improve its performance throughout the game by discovering OCP-manufactured upgrades. But the Auto-9 won’t be the only firepower in your arsenal.
“We wanted to give players the freedom to experiment and explore different options. That’s why we’ve included around 20 different weapons for players to discover and choose from,” Łatocha said. “Some of the weapons dropped by enemies may prove to be more powerful than the Auto-9 before it is upgraded. Ultimately, the choice of which weapon to use is up to the player and their preferred playstyle.”
In addition to weapons, Rogue City’s RoboCop will also have access to special cybernetic abilities that enhance his effectiveness in combat. So far, Teyon has revealed a slow-motion mode that lets you bring time to a crawl to get the advantage in a firefight.
“In addition to slow motion, there are a variety of other active and passive skills available for players to choose from. These upgrades offer a range of options for players to customize their gameplay experience to their liking,” Łatocha revealed. You’ll also be able to upgrade certain abilities as you progress in the game, allowing you to, for example, extend the amount of time you can spend in slow-motion. Ultimately, Łatocha said the designers wanted to ensure that players will feel like “the unstoppable force that is RoboCop.”
If RoboCop: Rogue City can pull it off, if Teyon can recreate the special mix of what made the 1987 film a classic, and deliver a game that’s fun to play? Let’s just say we’d buy that for way more than a dollar.