UPDATE: I’ve added additional paragraphs to discuss the PS5 version of Rockay City which was recently released, along with an updated score.
Crime Boss: Rockay City on consoles, then.
Look, here’s the thing. Crime Boss: Rockay City is not a good game. It just isn’t. There’s little here that can constitute any merit from me in a review, and the below review of the PC version posted earlier this year demonstrates that you can have all the star power on earth (and I use that term very loosely) but if the fundamentals aren’t there, this is one crime that should remain behind bars.
Still, the PS5 version of Crime Boss does have noticeable improvements. Namely the framerate is vastly improved and the visuals are certainly crisper. At first I thought this may have been my PC, despite my specs being top draw but ergo, it was just the game after some intense research (looking on Twitter and seeing people complain about it, primarily). Thankfully in co-op mode the visuals remain consistent, it was never a game that was going to overpower the PS5 but it’s nice to see that the console versions are a significant improvement over the PC edition.
Talking of co-op, Crime Boss is one of those games that suddenly becomes infinitely more fun when you’re tearing through the absolute madness of Rockay City with a group of friends. I managed to tear through the game with Miles, Josh, Kat and even the elusive Paul Collett, and while we all agreed it isn’t a good game, we had a ton of fun together messing up gangs, shooting up the fuzz and stealing money from innocent banks whilst we blast the place to pieces.
In most co-op games of course this is always the case, so it’s fortunate that Crime Boss: Rockay City benefits from this as if you and your buddies have copies of the game, you’re definitively going to have a much better time than you ever would on your own.
So whilst there’s not an awful lot of changes, the console versions of ‘Rockay Citaayyy’ (listen to the pod for context) are a marked improvement on the PC version, but it’s not saying an awful lot. The story is still rubbish, the gunplay remains poor and the levels are too short to really get invested in. It’s still a bad game, it’s just a little bit more fun when you have your mates to share in the mediocrity.
Crime Boss: Rockay City is now available on PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Series and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with multiple codes to test out the full game and the co-op modes. For our full review policy, please go here.
Come on, admit it. As soon as the trailer for Crime Boss: Rockay City landed in our laps you wanted to play it. In this world of unhinged nostalgia persistently paraded out before us we can’t help but get suckered into this 90’s action b-movie made entirely in your own kick-ass imagination. Rockay City is a lot of things, an absolute waste of a frankly ridiculous cast, a frankly terrible PayDay clone and a brilliant idea executed dreadfully. I knew from the off it was never going to be good but damn it if I didn’t want to blast my way through this with the biggest smile on my face. It’s the stupidest game of the year with no real redeeming features that I can recall. And yet, if the game is very, very lucky, it might just hit that sweet spot in your 80/90’s loving heart.
I’m gonna take you back to the 90’s. The magical era where anything was possible. Dreams could only get better, football was coming home, politicians actually acted like politicians (for the most part) and Len knew it was up for them if you stole their sunshine. It was a hell of a time to grow up in, if you were a pasty English boy like me. If you were American it was all Cadillac’s, bleached blonde hair and learning who Dido was. It was also chock-full of Chuck Norris knock off movies about as gloriously camp as Rockay City itself. You couldn’t move without seeing Michael Madsen’s Mr. Blonde donning every college wall, Kim Basinger stopping traffic with that L.A. Confidential poster (we were way into the 2000’s before she played Eminem’s trailer bound Mum in 8 Mile) and Chuck Norris being, well, Chuck Norris. It was Tarantino’s era, we were just living in it. Films were cool as f**k in the 90’s, and Rockay City takes that ball and runs with it only to fumble before it hits the halfway line. Rockay City is turning up to the Superbowl with a golf ball.
Turning attention to the game’s primary characters, they’re all garbage. While you may have seen a 90’s version of Michael Madsen doing a rather atypical version of himself in the trailers, it’s somehow even worse in the actual game. Every character is crap, which means this game has no real place to go in terms of having somebody to root for. If you’re paying attention then everyone sucks, and no worse than Vanilla Ice’s fucking Hielo, whose first scene is just him shouting at a woman and calling her a bitch for five minutes. Madsen’s Travis Baker wants a crime empire and to sit atop the throne in Rockay City now the seat is available and well, he goes up against a colourful cast of utter dross in order to get there. His only real buddy is Touchdown, pierced and tattooed to within an inch of his life and played by Michael Rooker, seemingly the only actor here still working with any real success.
Kim Basinger plays Casey with no redeeming features or style or ethos or passion or skill or with any real point. If anyone has turned up for the paycheque, it’s Kim Basinger. Noted, they all sound like none of them give two shits about their performance, but boy does it stand out when Basinger is on screen. It’s Tobey Maguire in the Spider-Man games but somehow excruciatingly more lazy. It’s a fascinating performance for all the wrong reasons, the developers just appear satisfied she turned up at all.
Rockay City has a myriad of issues, none more prevalent than the combat itself. Melee is a joke and about as useful as a vibrator made of marzipan and the shooting is dreadful. Imprecise, inaccurate and ineffectual. The bullet sponge enemies are a dutiful pain in the ass, and you’ll die more often than not for ‘absolute bulls**t’, which in Crime Boss’ case is a genuine reason. It really won’t be your fault – you’re trying to aim and the game just simply won’t let you. You’re constantly working against the game to try and just take down enemies with the limited resources you already have and once you’ve missed half your enemies and you’re out of ammo, you can either brave it out and try and pick up some dropped clips on the ground – whilst the AI have perfect targets on you at all times – or well, die and try again. There’s very little in between.
The perk system – if you can call it that – included may give an indication as to why the gun play is so fraught with uselessness. You can pick up cards which can lessen the sway of your weapon as you level up, hooray? I’ve barely noticed a change in that regard. If the game is simply shit at the very beginning with the promise of it getting better as you level up (which did cross my mind the further I progressed, as I either got better at the game or I just fell in line with its evolving mechanics) then that’s hardly a selling point;
‘It’ll get better the more you play it’s just crap at first we promise’, screams Rockay City. This game has all the hallmarks of taking my virginity with none of the excitement.
And that’s the weird thing about the game, is that it’s barely a campaign at all. Each level is several minutes long, whether it’s throwing you in the middle of a gunfight against hordes of repetitive enemies or you’re in the middle of a heist to pay for your evil deeds. There are roguelike elements that feel out of place in a game as unhinged as this one. And each level feels the same. It’s merely turf wars on a tiny scale with the common denominator being you’re probably going to shoot your way out against a barrage of copy and paste enemy sprites and minutes later, the level is complete and you’re moving on. There’s very little to cling onto as the levels finish just as you begin to get the hang of the inefficient gunplay. Don’t even get me started on the Vietnam War flashback. It was absolutely terrible and I wish to never speak of it again.
The above is not an accurate representation of Crime Boss’ gunplay.
I haven’t been able to check out the co-op systems just yet as nobody else on the FG team managed to snag an extra code. The time will come, hopefully when the game launches on consoles and I get to experience this wonderment all over again, but this time with buddies who totally wanna play some Rockaay Citaayyy!
So here we are. A game we all knew was going to be crap is crap and the world will keep on turning. There’s obviously a big heart here, harking back to the terrible 90’s b-movie madness we grew up on, running to Blockbuster video and picking out a straight-to-VHS movie based purely on the front cover. None of it makes any sense and it’s really not all that fun to watch, but there’s something addictive about the nonsense that makes you have a place in your heart for this kind of entertainment.
Unfortunately, Crime Boss doesn’t quite reach these heights(?), but you get what they’re trying to do here. There are many plates spinning, but they fall one by one by one and all that’s left is the mess on the floor staring back at you with Michael Madsen’s voice in your ear for some reason.
Rockaay Citaayy! What a time to be alive.
Crime Boss: Rockay City is exactly what we thought it would be. A turgid waste of a solid central idea with a cast stacked with actors who sound like they’d rather be anywhere else or are just purely hateful. There’s a little delight in falling into b-movie nostalgia, but it’s few and far between. There’s very little here to recommend because very little of it works, if anything at all. Well, the title is fun to say at least.
Crime Boss: Rockay City is available now on the Epic Games Store (review platform). It arrives on consoles in June.
Developer: InGame Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.