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RoboCop: Rogue City is the unlikely poster child for Unreal Engine 5 — and an absolute blast to play

 RoboCop: Rogue City.
RoboCop: Rogue City.

What We're Playing

Welcome! This column is part of a series in which members of the Tom's Guide staff share what they're playing and enjoying right now, with the goal of helping you find great games that you may have missed. Be sure to check out our previous entry, where we talked about Star Wars: Jedi Survivor.

You know what doesn’t seem to exist anymore? The “AA” game. These days, you’re either an almighty AAA like Starfield or a surprise indie hit like Unpacking. Titles are either produced on colossal or shoestring budgets, and it feels like there’s nothing in between.

Yet there was a time (particularly in the 2010s), where AA games were very much a thing. Think of them as the “direct-to-video” of the medium. I’m talking games like NeverDead (a title that involved controlling a decapitated head for much of its playtime) and Rogue Warrior (a game that somehow snagged Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning actor Mickey Rourke, then broke the record for virtual cuss words).

It might look a whole lot better than those two titles I mentioned, but RoboCop: Rogue City is very much a AA game. If this was 1995, you’d absolutely be renting it from your local Blockbuster. Thankfully, the year is 2024 and I’ve been playing the crap out of this surprisingly ace tie-in to one of the most beloved action films of the ‘80s through the Epic Games Store on one of the best gaming PCs.

Hot damn if Rogue City isn’t a hugely violent surprise package"

And hot damn if it isn’t a hugely violent surprise package. A relatively low budget but beautiful-looking game that uses Unreal Engine 5 better than any other title I’ve seen to date, it places you into the thundering metal shoes of one of the most iconic movie characters ever.

Cop to it

RoboCop: Rogue City
RoboCop: Rogue City

This is very much the RoboCop of Paul Verhoeven’s legendary action flick, too. Developer Teyon convinced actor Peter Weller to reprise the role of his career, automatically lending Rogue City an instant authenticity that most licensed games lack. You sound like RoboCop, you look like RoboCop and hoo-boy do you ever feel like RoboCop.

Just as it should be, controlling “OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001” makes you feel like a badass walking tank. Yet while the metal shell of Alex Murphy may not zip around quite like Sonic the Hedgehog, Rogue City feels refreshingly slick in its moment-to-moment gameplay.

A lot of that has to do with the fact the game simply won’t stop throwing enemies at you, and thankfully, you can throw ‘em straight back. Literally. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve chucked (a usually mohawked baddie in a denim vest) through a 20th floor window.

Murphy’s iconic service weapon, the Auto 9, is also responsible for RoboCop: Rogue City being such a hoot to play. The rat-a-tat sensation of emptying clips into goons never fails to raise a grin, with the added bonus that the game’s default gun never runs out of ammo.

This isn’t a brain dead shooter by any means, though. Teyon has the sense to mix proceedings up pleasingly with sandbox-style side missions that revolve around solving crimes dotted throughout sections of Old Detroit.

Murphy's law

RoboCop: Rogue City
RoboCop: Rogue City

It’s in these moments where RoboCop can act like, well, an actual policeman… albeit one who’s more tanked up than The Terminator. Bizarrely, these optional side tasks remind me of indie hit Papers, Please. Bureaucracy is the name of the game when it comes to these civilian-focused distractions. Murphy is all about upholding the “Public’s Trust” and you can either boost or tank this in-game meter by going strictly by the book or letting offenders off easy.

Do you let that decent kid who’s just fallen in with the wrong crowd go because he stole (yet ultimately wants to return) a car? Do you decide to issue parking tickets like they were criminal confetti? Or do you just simply blast every morally-torn NPC in the face with lead because you’re Robo freakin’ Cop?

Whatever sort of bullet-proof police officer you decide to be, Rogue City is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played"

Whatever sort of bullet-proof police officer you decide to be, Rogue City is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played. Not only does it run smoothly in its performance mode on PS5 and Xbox Series X, but it’s next level buttery on my RTX 4090-powered PC.

Considering developer Teyon wasn't exactly working with Rockstar Games’ budget levels, it’s hugely impressive to see RoboCop: Rogue City deploy advanced Unreal 5 graphical features, like Nanite geometry that boosts background details and Lumen GI reflections. This is a game that legitimately looks better than Starfield, and one that was made for a fraction of Bethesda’s somewhat divisive sci-fi epic.

While overall review scores have been a little mixed, I heartily recommend you give Rogue City a chance. It’s an old school shooter running on cutting edge tech that’s often a delight to play. The only problem? It’s left me desperate for a decent single-player Predator game.

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