Sometime in the not too distant future the war against crime is rapidly being lost, and — as a last ditch effort — the Government has turn to contracting out the task of law enforcement to large corporations. One group — by the name of Omnicorp — has decided that if they are to effectively combat crime, then they are going to need a new breed of police officer that is more capable than any other man. When Alex Murphy was nearly wasted in a recent bout of gang violence, he became the perfect candidate for their plans to create RoboCop: the ultimate in law enforcement response technology.
Anyways, in Glu Game’s RoboCop (out now, free) you are in control of the titular cyborg as he strives to show the higher ups at Omnicorp that this project is worth funding to completion. Robocop will — in order to do this — have to excel at various virtual simulations, proving that he is capable of tackling both the city’s criminals and Omnicorp’s other prospective projects. RoboCop’s team will — with the additional funds earned from each successful showing — be able to further improve his systems, and also the various weaponry that he will eventually use on the field.
The best analogy I can give for these testing simulations is that they’re a lot like playing Time Crisis in an arcade, except minus the part where you’re waving a light gun around. RoboCop begins each stage hiding behind a barricade of some sort, with the player able to look around the area using the left side of the screen as if it were a virtual analog joystick. Holding the right side of the screen will cause RoboCop to pop up from his hiding place, and while standing — which leaves him vulnerable — he will automatically fire back if the cursor is on top of a valid target.
At the bottom of the screen is the scan button, a mighty aid that will let RoboCop detect all of the targets in an area — even if they’re currently standing behind a wall — and also where their weak spot is. Attacking this weak spot — which can be in a different location each time — will cause the enemy to take massive damage, which is absolutely vital for taking down a target before RoboCop’s gun overheats. Money from successfully completed simulations can of course not only be used to improve a gun’s damage output, but also how long it takes for it to both overheat and then cool down afterwards.
For the most dire of moments, a hyper-focused mode can be activated where Robocop will – via the joys of bullet time – target a number of opponents to take out in rapid succession. After the Focus button has been used the player will have to wait for it to cool off before Robocop can perform this mighty feat again, which means that early on you’ll be able to use it usually only once per mission. The damage that Focus delivers to a single target, the amount of targets that can be selected during focus mode, and the amount of time the ability then spends cooling off can all be upgraded over time.
Of course the entire experience is not as simple as merely popping up to take shots at enemies whenever they aren’t hiding, as Robocop also has the ability – by tapping the edges of the screen – to run between various defensive positions. This is particularly useful whenever enemies attempt to use tactics that bypass the environment, such as high placed sniper shots or tossed grenades (both of which are extremely damaging). Sometimes you will also have to flee a position if it has been wrecked to the point where it no longer provides any protection, or if it is potentially about to explode, but thankfully the enemy’s hiding spots can be destroyed just as easily.
While upgrades will certainly make a difference towards Robocop’s chances of succeeding, strategy and fast reactions will play a far bigger role in whether or not he survives each test. Knowing which enemies to prioritize for quick elimination – such as snipers – where to stand so that you can successfully hit an enemy trying to hide, and even quickly beating someone to a draw are all far more vital. While completely unnecessary if you employ proper strategy, there does also exist IAP obtainable health kits and attack drones that can be used for assistance during any given mission.
As far as the actual gameplay of RoboCop goes, the resulting package is a great treat for fans of duck and cover third person shooters — or the classical Time Crisis arcade games — and will certainly not disappoint people during any of the missions. What may drive some people to rage quit — on the other hand — is the game’s upgrade system, which is where the freemium shenanigans come in that you all knew had to exist somewhere. To put it bluntly — unless you IAP the upgrades, all at great monetary cost — there will be a lot grinding in RoboCop, since bad equipment leads to needing health kits and attack drones.
The good news is that — assuming you’re patient — RoboCop never puts you into a situation where there no longer exists a viable means to obtain resources, unlike some other freemium titles. While certain missions can only be done once, there will always be a variety of stages — some of which are indefinitely repeatable, and some of which can be done a certain number of times per day — that scale in value as you progress forward. While there is also an energy system — as even the mighty RoboCop needs to rest — the fact remains that your resource options decrease the more you play throughout a day, with you eventually hitting a point where it would just be most prudent to wait until tomorrow.
One thing that especially encourages waiting would be the experimental research nodes on the upgrade chart, which have a chance of failing to be opened up each time you attempt to activate them. While you could simply IAP your way through these, you can also use your currently collected ‘research units’ — which are most plentifully found during the missions that refresh daily — to ensure that these vital upgrades go through. That said — even when I was attempting these sans the use of any ‘research units’ — I never had too much trouble with these risky upgrades, although it’s possible that I was enjoying some extreme luck.
My biggest personal complaint with RoboCop is probably of a far more esoteric nature, as the game starts you off with a wonderful — and faithful — rendition of the classical Robocop outfit. Yet I know that the research tree for RoboCop’s systems will eventually lead me to upgrading him into the “3.0” suit that he eventually receives in the upcoming film, and I am personally left wishing that I could just maintain the classic look instead. Either way, so long as you’re willing to take RoboCop with a healthy dose of patience — and play it day-by-day, rather than trying to rush through it — the game isn’t impossibly designed.
For the record, I did — in fact — exhaustively play through Glu Game’s RoboCop for more than a week to ensure that I could accurately assess the greediness of the game’s IAP implementation. Keeping the entire situation fair is that RoboCop has no time sensitive activities that you need to babysit, such as crops — which took resources and energy to initially plant — withering away because you didn’t have the energy to harvest them. Furthermore, unlike those other titles — which traditionally make the physical gameplay boring on purpose — the actual act of blasting away at robots and various street thugs in RoboCop is always its own reward (even if you’re doing it to grind for more money).
Anyways — gameplay and IAP issues aside — I would like to now close this review by discussing RoboCop’s visual presentation, which is certainly not going to disappoint anyone. The stages are detailed and well animated, with one of my favorite effects being the environmental reflections on RoboCop’s shiny chassis, all of which moves at a solid frame-rate that never drops out. While mobile games with 3D graphics of this caliber aren’t as mind-blowingly unique as they once were, it’s always still a visual treat whenever an iOS game comes along with solid visuals on this level.
iFanzine Verdict: Glu Game’s Robocop features nice graphics – fast and strategic Time Crisis esque gameplay – and responsive controls that are up to the task, while also managing to be a nice use of the classic cyborg hero. While the game does feature much grinding and an energy system, it doesn’t contain attempts to force the player into a screwed over bind the way titles such as Rule the Kingdom did. So long as the player is able to accept the deliberately slowed down pace that the energy bar mandates, Robocop is still a perfectly fun – and ultimately fair – freemium title.