RoboCop Rogue City Demo Review on Steam
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A RoboCop first-person shooter is one of those things that feels like it should’ve existed, yet the stars never seemed to align for it to happen. Though everyone’s favorite mechanized law enforcement officer is no stranger to the world of video games, especially of the action variety, we’ve rarely, if ever, seen the world through his artificial eyes. The closest thing we got was two decades ago with the 2003 release of RoboCop via Titus Interactive. But that game was terrible, and we’d rather forget that it exists.

It’s fitting, then, that the same developer responsible for the surprisingly competent Terminator: Resistance in 2019, Teyon, is now directly responsible for RoboCop: Rogue City. The demo for Rogue City was recently released to ring in another installment of Steam Next Fest, an event where, for a limited time, a significant number of playable video game demos are available to try out as you see fit. As long as you have a Steam account, you too can try RoboCop: Rogue City for yourself.

A Polish developer, Teyon first hit the scene in 2006 with a focus on low-budget indie titles and licensed tie-in games. The company had previously garnered some short-lived infamy with the release of Rambo: The Video Game in 2014, a game that combined the events of all three Rambo films from the 1980s into a rail shooter format. Suffice to say, reception wasn’t positive.

Terminator: Resistance marked a significant swing in the right direction, however, with several critics praising its numerous recreations of film props, branching story paths, and surprising length. Like Alien: Isolation and The Mummy: Demastered, it demonstrated that licensed properties aren’t necessarily an indicator of terrible quality like they were back in the early to mid-2000s.

Rogue City Is a Love Letter to the RoboCop Franchise

RoboCop Rogue City Demo Review
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In fact, if Rogue City has anything going for it, it’s that Teyon understands the appeal of RoboCop as a whole. If you’re a fan of the original RoboCop films, you’ll be happy to know that it is very much a labor of love for the films themselves, as well as the fandom surrounding them. Peter Weller, the original face and voice of RoboCop, has returned to provide his likeness as well as the character’s iconic voice.

RoboCop’s armor, in addition to the satirical dystopia that was prominently featured throughout each of the films, has been immaculately recreated under supervision from Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer. Teyon even went through the effort of viewing every RoboCop film multiple times as a reference for the game’s numerous props and assets.

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They would have to, given that Rogue City is a completely original story. Similar to Terminator: Resistance, Rogue City takes place between RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3 as a new threat starts to sweep through Old Detroit. RoboCop and his partner, Anne Lewis, must find a way to uphold the law while maintaining public trust the best they can. Being a demo, we can’t necessarily gauge the story’s overall quality. Only the first major level, a brief trip to the police station, and a portion of the following level are playable.

What’s there is intriguing enough, at least. You’ll notice a few things right off the bat, both good and bad, that promises an entertaining experience for starkly different reasons. It’s worth noting that before we address any issues, Teyon has been more than vocal about fixing any shortfalls found within the demo, even going so far as to quickly drop a patch to fix widespread performance issues as of October 9th.

RoboCop Rogue City Demo Review - Office
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Presentation is admittedly mixed. The game’s environments, including its interiors, are downright gorgeous, and Peter Weller’s likeness as RoboCop is spot-on. The same goes for the satirical advertisements and destructible elements in the environment. The game is made with Unreal Engine 5, and when combined with similar art direction that the original films relied on, it really does feel like you’re wandering around the set of RoboCop. You’re either trudging around debris and brass casings, wandering dilapidated streets, or otherwise soaking in the artificial lights of Old Detroit.

The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for the game’s character models. Whenever they’re static, or whenever their facial features are obscured, they look just fine. Aside from RoboCop himself, however, just about every character is admittedly suffering a bit when it comes to facial animations. Lip-syncing, in particular, is comparable to a Muppets presentation, with everyone somewhat accurately flapping their gums up and down with every syllable. It’s forgivable, but it’s admittedly jarring to see when everything else looks so good. If you’re familiar with Teyon’s previous projects, especially Rambo: The Video Game, this isn’t exactly a new issue.

Rogue City makes a big deal about playing as RoboCop, and to its credit, this is likely the closest anyone will ever get to recreating the authentic Omni Consumer Corporation experience. RoboCop, being a slow and lumbering hunk of metal and circuity, appropriately plays the same way. Normally, this would be terrible.

Unlike the 2003 game, however, Teyon understands that the player needs the ability to fight effectively despite their limited mobility. Instead of simply outrunning your opponents, you have to play to RoboCop’s strengths, which is a nice shake-up when compared to recent trends.

Weapons and the Open World Environment

RoboCop Rogue City Demo Review on Steam - Weapons and Enemies
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You’ll have a choice between two weapons, one being RoboCop’s trusty Auto 9 with unlimited ammunition and the other being a weapon dropped by the numerous enemies you’ll be taking on with finite ammunition. RoboCop can take plenty of punishment from enemy fire, with ample means of healing yourself as long as you put some thought into your positioning and targeting. Headshots will put down just about everyone in record time, though enemies wearing headgear will have to take some additional shots to put down.

In the hail of smoke and dust and sparks, you can also zoom in to highlight distant enemies, similar to how it was done in the films, right down to its presentation. The presence of an exhaustive skill tree based on your ability to collect evidence and prosecute various crimes also promises a litany of buffs and gameplay additions that’ll likely make your experience much more varied.

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We have to mention that this is more than just an old-school shooter. Though we only get a brief taste of it, Rogue City is very much an open-world game in a similar vein to Deus Ex, where large hub areas with multiple missions to accomplish yours to explore and solve. Everything from discovering hidden evidence to simply handing out parking tickets will have an impact on RoboCop’s abilities and mission scores, with higher scores making more skill points available.

It’s appreciated, and it lends Rogue City some more depth in recreating a similar experience when compared to the films. A lofty morality system and multiple endings based on dialog choices have been promised in the full release.

RoboCop Rogue City Demo Review - Steam
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Performance is a major concern, and it’ll be something worth examining when trying the demo yourself. On an Intel i5-8400 and an Nvidia 2060 graphics card, I ultimately had to drop my settings to the barest minimum while locking the frame rate to an even 60 FPS for a modicum of stability. Even then, shooting at various environmental objects or even just a regular enemy would occasionally lead to a bout of stuttering. This is to be expected from my rig, as the minimum requirements on the game’s store page specify an Intel i7-4790 CPU for what is assumed to be stable performance.

Otherwise, I was more than able to meet all required specifications. It’s worth noting that these hardware requirements are also subject to change pending the game’s full release.

Would we recommend Robocop: Rogue City based on a short, three-level demo? With how many games are flooding Steam from all sides, we’re admittedly a little hesitant to declare Rogue City a safe bet for pre-orders. Then again, the sheer level of dedication and effort being put into recreating RoboCop‘s aesthetics practically makes it an essential piece of media for those who can’t get enough of that universe. The initial demo is appealing enough, but we’ll ultimately have to wait and see how Rogue City‘s grandiose promises play out in the full release.

Robocop: Rogue City will officially release on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Steam, and the Epic Games Store for around 50 USD. The game is currently slated to release on November 2, 2023.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Robocop: Rogue City
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Sean is a devout data hoarder, CD collector, and purveyor of weird things. When he's not scouring the depths for the odd and macabre, he's usually playing video games, trying to learn Blender, and subsisting on coffee and protein bars. He also knows how to "get things."
robocop-rogue-city-demo-reviewWould we recommend Robocop: Rogue City based on a short, three-level demo? With how many games are flooding Steam from all sides, we're admittedly a little hesitant to declare Rogue City a safe bet for pre-orders. Then again, the sheer level of dedication and effort being put into recreating RoboCop's aesthetics practically makes it an essential piece of media for those who can't get enough of that universe. The initial demo is appealing enough, but we'll ultimately have to wait and see how Rogue City's grandiose promises play out in the full release.

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