08/07/2024

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review 7/10 "A kick-ass cast in a game that once got its ass kicked" πŸ’₯ @ingame_studios @505_Games #IndieGame #GameDev

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Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review
Upon its initial release in 2023, Crime Boss: Rockay City had a rough old time, with cutting reviews across the board. We didn’t cover it at the time here at GF, but as someone who grew up watching this – quite incredible – cast of actors in myriad movies over the decades, it was always on my mind, and I was intrigued as to how the game appeared to be such a misfire.

Fast forward a year and the game gets a massive overhaul for its Steam release. DLC is now included for free - and the developers have fixed a lot of the more glaring issues that plagued the game upon its initial release.

How does it fare in 2024? it’s a lot of fun, but the repetition at the heart of the game is hard to ignore.

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review
The story is that the previous Rockay City kingpin has died, and the various crime families and gangs have swooped in to take the prize – and it is a
colourful cast of characters. You play Travis Baker (Michael Madsen - Bloodrayne, The Thief & The Stripper, The Inspectors 2: A Shred of Evidence) a brash, cowboy hat sporting drug dealer that’s new on the scene and wants Rockay City all to himself – well, along with his close associates Kim Basinger (Cellular, Cool World, Final Analysis),  Michael Rooker (Mallrats, The Bone Collector, Replicant), and Danny Glover (Gone Fishin’, Switchback, Our Friend, Martin).


Also out to take down all-comers are rival gangs led by Vanilla Ice  (that song), Danny Trejo (every film ever made), and others. Not only that – but Sheriff Norris is after them all...Sheriff Chuck Norris (Lone Wolf McQuade, Hellbound, Hero and the Terror)*. Quite frankly, as someone who grew up on a solid movie diet of action B-movies, as the game installed, my trousers existed only in faded, dusty, long-forgotten photographs. 

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review

The online multiplayer component is the star here – which I’ll get to later - but that’s not to say that the single player campaign is a slouch, and the rogue-lite gameplay of working though heists, territory wars, light resource management and permanent upgrades kept my interest up for longer than I assumed it would. The ‘perma-death’(anyone in your party can die, but if Baker dies, the game ends and its back to the start with you– and whatever permanent upgrades you’ve unlocked) leads to some pretty tense moments that really grab you.


For example. I was breezing through an awesome run, and got too cocky in a tiny side quest where I leapt over a wall, guns blazing – before my team could get into place – and got cut down in seconds by some cheap-ass gangsters with crappy SMGs, and could only look on in horror as the same fate met the chain of my beloved gang members that leapt the wall after me in a bid to get me back up. It was quite filmic to feel all my achievements slipping away because I didn’t take my time for a few seconds, as I emptily blasted away uselessly at the gathering crowd of enemies - damn you, ‘Too Excited Britt’!

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review

Also worthy of note in a direct comparison to Payday in the single player mode, is that Crime Boss: Rockay City is better by default as a single player game, as the game never hits a glass ceiling where you clearly need other players to proceed, as Payday does. So I would genuinely recommend this over Payday should you be intending to play this purely solo, although there are probably an extremely low number of people with that mindset for a game in this genre, I admit.


Before I go on to the multiplayer, I’ll quickly talk about the mechanics and game itself, I played in performance mode – because that’s always the correct thing to do – and the visuals were crisp, with the faux-Floridian city of Rockay being quite easy on the eyes, aside from – bizarrely – Michael Madsen’s mouth, which looks like it was solely animated by a YTS worker on his apprenticeship.

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review

The music keeps the energy up and swings from hip-hop through to dusty guitar slides, and whilst it does build up with various audio cues as the game ramps up and things get a bit testy, it never gets irritatingly techno or tediously thuddy, there’s nuance in the design and compositions. I even raised a wry smile at Bon Jovi’s musical inclusion, which hasn’t happened for the last forty years. Finally, the gun-play is satisfying, and it was a case of getting the setup that suited me, as opposed to desperately trying to find a gun that wasn’t complete shit, which is an issue has sorely plagued me in the past in similar titles.


The multiplayer though, is where the soul of this game is – even more so in this ‘relaunch’. You can have public or private lobbies, alongside stand-alone heists ranging from knocking over a car dealership or armoured truck  through to complex, multi-stage tech-heavy sabotage and breaking into hidden bank vaults.

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review

The game also allows you string together your own sequence of robberies, and features a kinda multiplayer campaign that leads you through a  truncated version of the single player campaign, forcing you to choose between set characters, requiring you to adapt your play style. This was the one that shone for our group, as it mixed things up and required some real teamwork and flexibility.


As much as I’m enjoying Crime Boss: Rockay City, there are certainly some caveats here, hence my overall score. Firstly, there’s no ignoring the inherent repetition in the game, it just feels like it needs more heists and things to do. It’s a great blast for a few sessions, but either the rogue-lite factor needs to be rogue-heavier, or a bunch more missions need to be thrown in. On top of that, we encountered bugs whereby an AI character would freeze in place, and the HUD would disappear for the non-host players, leading eventually to them being unable to traverse ladders, which completely canes some missions and requires a full restart of the game for everyone - tedious. I’m hoping that these more serious issues will be ironed out in time, but the content needs to come, and fast.

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review

SUMMARY

Crime Boss: Rockay City will be installed on our hard drives for a good while, especially for those sessions when you only have an hour or so, and can’t dive into anything too in-depth.


There’s a lot to enjoy here, and it has some great ideas executed well with an all-star cast, but raising the difficulty only gets you so far, and I can imagine in a few weeks, I’ll be starving for a content update.


That said, when that update hits – I’ll be right back on the streets of Rockay City, guns out and swearing loads – maybe almost as much as Michael Rooker, if that’s possible.

Crime Boss: Rockay City (2024) XSX Review
* Everyone else in the cast is clearly having fun, and it comes through in the performances - with Michael Rooker especially not giving a hoot-  but Chuck Norris sounds like he’s reading out a VAT receipt to his wife in a boring room slowly filling with sleeping gas.

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