Monday 4 December 2023

Robocop: Rogue City - “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me”.

(Game provided by the publisher)

By Sam Coles:  

I grew up in an era of gaming where movie tie in video games were ubiquitous to say the least, where devs would rush out a game to coincide with the release of films. Sometimes, you would get some hidden gems such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was of higher quality of the film, but nine times out of ten they would be soulless with little effort put into them. However, in the mid to late 2000s there was a trend of making games based on older film intellectual properties, such as The Godfather, Scarface, and The Warriors to name a few. FastForward to 2023, and we finally get a good adaptation of Robocop. Not to say there weren’t any adaptations in the past, but most if not all of those games were not the best in terms of the quality department, this new game from Teyon is fantastic! Let’s get into Robocop: Rogue City!  

Robocop: Rogue City continues right after the events of the first film, you can consider it an unofficial yet superior sequel to the first film as we don’t talk about Robocop 2 and 3 but I digress. Anyway, the game goes into Alex Murphy’s human mind, because if you remember at the end of the first film, he remembers his human side again. It does retread a lot of the first film, where he malfunctions and starts to see hallucinations throughout the game, but this is remedied in the therapy sessions he has, adding an extra layer to his broken mind.  

These sections and dialogue in general have an impact in the story, where certain characters will have different reactions to you later depending on your response in a conversation you had earlier. It is a typical Walking Dead style of morality system, even down to the little disclaimer in the corner of the screen showing that said character “Will remember that” or “Acted favorably to your response”. It adds to Alex Murphy’s character that the films didn’t really go into, as the films favoured action as they are not particularly long movies.  

Speaking of action, the gameplay as one would expect in a Robocop game is a first-person shooter. Now, I remember when the first gameplay previews came out for this game, and a lot of people’s responses were complaining about his movement. Yes, he does walk slowly but this is not an advanced movement shooter, it is about allocating targets quickly and using the environment such as explosive barrels, enemy weapons, enemies themselves or cover you can ultilise. It is about prioritising certain threats, like he does in the film as he can’t take cover like a normal human being, he must rely on his armour to take most of the damage.  

Let’s talk guns, of course it being a Robocop game you have the iconic Auto-9 machine pistol but you can upgrade this weapon. You get the standard three burst fire to begin with, but with a few tweaks you can turn it into an automatic killing machine which turns bad guys into bloody red giblets. I know the diehard Robocop fans may be opposed to this, but you can also pick up enemy weapons and use them too. Now, this is nothing too exciting, it is your usual modern weaponry you see in most shooters, AKs, Uzi’s, Shotguns, Handguns of various calibers, Sniper Rifles and many more. You can stick to your Auto-9 as it has infinite ammo which sounds broken, but certain weapons you pick up do have better damage against certain enemies, such as armoured criminals to the malfunctioning ED209 bipeds you will come across. Plus, it just adds variety to firefights, and you can’t go wrong with a shotgun to clear a room as Robocop shoots it with one hand, and all is left is a bloody mist where a person once stood. 

It’s not all about shooting criminals with reasonable force, as a police officer you have to scout areas and crime scenes for evidence. There are certain areas you cannot enter until you have enough evidence to gain a warrant, as this falls into one of Murphy’s directives. You can explore various open ended hub areas, not too dissimilar to Deus Ex not as expansive though, but it is a welcome change after gunning down criminals. You can solve side crimes, and if you want to unleash your inner parking attendant issue tickets to illegally parked cars.  

Visually it is great for the most part, the only real issue with the visuals are some of the character models. Now, I am going to cut the developers some slack as this game was made by a small team on a minuscule budget, but some textures do standout compared to the higher quality ones. The character model of Robocop is perfect, almost beat for beat from the film, his armour looks great, and his movements are on point from the film where it is intentionally stiff. However, some character models do look like upscaled PS2 models, but this is most NPCs you tend to walk past. The environments suffer with the same issue, the game really shines at night where you see the neon lights reflect in puddles with the distant police lights lighting the dark and gritty alley ways of crime. However, a lot of the daytime levels can look a bit washed out, but again I will cut the developers a bit of slack as this is neither a triple A game nor an indie game, it is smack bang in the middle.  

Robocop: Rogue City is a blast; it shows amazing attention to detail to the source material which is amazing considering this is not a big budget title. We need more of these types of games, middle of the ground experience that delivers a fun and entertaining gameplay experience. If you are a Robocop fan then this is an immediate play, but even if you are not familiar with the source material it is fun, nonetheless. I highly recommend it!  

Sunday 26 November 2023

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III Campaign - Unfocused and Rushed.


(Game provided by Activision)

By Sam Coles:  

Call of Duty (at the time of writing) is a 20-year-old franchise that has had its highs and lows, but in recent years with a few exceptions has had a bit of an identity crisis. The reboot of the Modern Warfare series in 2019 was a good game, it had a grounded, dark and brutal campaign which showed the realities of modern combat as there are no good or bad guys but different shades of greys. Now we arrive at the third instalment of the reboot trilogy, and unfortunately it feels very unfocused. Is it four out of ten IGN? No, as that would suggest it is unplayable, which it is not, and I tend to not subscribe to such hyperbole as the game is functional if unremarkable. Let’s get into it!  

Modern Warfare III takes place after the well.... Modern Warfare II, where Task Force 141 are on the hunt for a terrorist known as Vladimir Makarov and yes that Makarov from the original Modern Warfare trilogy. He escapes custody from a Gulag at the start of the game, which is a great opening to the game as it is a classic COD level, with brilliant pacing until you realise you are working as the enemy. After this, he is back to plotting to see the world burn, as he and his comrade's highjack a passenger jet to blow it up, to then pin the blame on an ex-freedom fighter from the fictional region of Urzikstan 

Now this plot sounds interesting with surprises, twists and turns, and yes it has its moments, but it is unfocused throughout and jumps all over the place with questionable cuts in certain scenes that leave me confused with the decision. The actor who plays Makarov is decent, but he is not given enough screentime to do anything with the character, not only that all the other characters from Task Force 141 don’t seem to be the same people from the previous games. They all for one sound like they have gone to their local garden centre, and swallowed a bag of gravel instead of spreading it on their driveway with how deep their deliveries are trying to be gritty (no pun intended).  

Now, easily the most contentious part of this campaign are the new open combat missions, which take an open-ended approach with the campaign in theory. How this work is that you can pick your insertion method and tackle any objective in any order, sounds great on paper right and yes, the first one was tense as you have no weapons and must secure your own firearms. However, this sacrifices the spectacle you expect from a Call of Duty campaign, and they feel very stale by the end of it and the A.I. is not great for the enemies as a lot of them lack pathfinding, they are either insanely accurate and will erase you immediately or have the accuracy and eyesight of my dad when doesn’t have his glasses on.  

If it wasn’t for the tight and excellent gunplay you expect from the series, these missions would have felt extremely tedious, but the tedium remains as they throw in armoured enemies from MWII, which slows down the pace tremendously!  

The good parts of the game are for one the gunplay, like the previous two MW games it is amazing with tight controls and really detailed animations from reloading to the way guns recoil. The game visually looks great for the most part, although it does look rather drab in places, especially in the open combat missions with some questionable textures in places. The game runs well, I played it on the Xbox Series S and the framerate stayed mostly consistent at 60 frames per second. The only real bug encountered was at the start of the game, when I exited the underground of the Gulag, and the game froze for a good 30 plus seconds for some reason.  

Overall, the campaign for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is an unfocused story, with a questionable length just clocking in 3 hours with plot holes all over the place and just bizarre pacing and jumps in the story. It is unfortunate, even how poor the quality the other modes can be, we could always fall back on the campaign for a good time but unfortunately not with this one. All I can say is that it is certainly functional, and it exists.  

Blog Archive