Games licensed from movies have earned themselves a poor reputation in the industry, thanks in part to dire titles such as Home Alone, Hudson Hawk and of course E.T., with the stories of its unceremonious dumping in the New Mexico desert becoming the stuff of legend. While this may be unnecessarily exaggerated, with plenty of good examples out there (Goldeneye, Riddick and The Thing spring to mind), there is a certain degree of trepidation that meets any new licensed release. Unfortunately, this tie-in to the upcoming Robocop re-boot doesn’t break any new ground and won’t do much for the reputation of licensed games, providing as it does only simple blasting action for undiscerning mobile gamers.
Placing players in the heavily armoured boots of the cyborg law enforcement officer, the game takes the form of a cover-based shooter, where Robocop tackles both human and robotic enemies in an extensive series of high-octane missions. These are divided into several categories but are disappointingly similar and all revolve around basically the same thing, which is blasting your foes in the face with an admittedly impressive arsenal of weapons. Movement is limited to simply ducking left and right, with the occasional need to run forwards handled automatically, and with most of your time spent looking, aiming or shooting. In addition to the aforementioned weapons (all of which can modified extensively through a surprisingly deep upgrade tree), there are a few other elements to add to the excitement, such as the ability to call in drone strikes or to tag several enemies who can then be taken down in slow motion.
Technically speaking, Robocop certainly impresses, and while not quite up to the standards of Infinity Blade III, there is a fair amount of eye candy on display here. The destrucible environments are gritty and intricate, creating a strong vision of an urban nightmare wracked by violence and there are plenty of punchy visual effects to back up the action. Character models too, including fan favourite ED-209, are all rendered in loving detail. The atmosphere is enhanced by a complex, layered soundscape, with realistic gunfire and explosions, but the supposedly dramatic music is dreary and forgettable.
If all you are looking for is a straightforward and undemanding shooter, Robocop can be considered reasonably successful. There is certainly enough satisfying gunplay to keep gamers entertained for short bouts and the controls, a tricky aspect to get right for mobile shooters, are generally tight and responsive, although lag does rear its ugly head from time to time. The extra weapons and gadgets, variety of enemies and environments, and pretty steep difficulty curve are all welcome additions but they fail to disguise the game’s main failings, which are its lack of ambition and originality.
It soon becomes apparent that there is little to do beyond simply running back and forth between limited cover, popping up every now and then to let loose a hail of gunfire and while the action is certainly frenetic, the lack of depth means the gameplay gets repetitive quickly. It’s also unclear if anything seen here ties into the movie, but it seems that the game stands alone so those looking for a sneak preview are likely to be disappointed, making this something of a cynical cash-in. Add to this an upgrade system that requires some serious real-world investment in order to advance and you have a licensed game which doesn't quite deserve to be buried in the desert (or whatever the digital equivalent is), but which is nothing more than a bog-standard and fairly mindless shooter.
Robocop (2014) (Reviewed on iOS)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Graphically impressive but ultimately unrewarding, Robocop is a cynical movie tie-in that seems to have little connection to its source and provides only simple, repetitive, cover-based action. Expect to make some major in-app purchases if you want to progress.