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Crime Boss: Rockay City Review

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After what you would call a ‘rockay’ start on PC, Crime Boss: Rockay City arrives on consoles. You know the one; this is that game which was announced at The Game Awards 2022 featuring more ‘80s and ‘90s celebrities than you would care to remember. Ringing a bell yet? The one that looked like a Payday clone, but instead you got to shoot Vanilla Ice and Danny Trejo in the face? Now you’ve got it.

Crime Boss: Rockay City is a first person shooter inspired by the Payday games, but with roguelite elements. Missions will have you shooting and looting throughout Rockay City as you attempt to build your criminal empire. When not in mission, controlling your territory, building and maintaining your stash and hiring new members will also keep you busy.

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Will you become the Crime Boss of Rockay City?

In the main campaign, an opening in the ‘bad guy roster’ opens up just as you, Travis Baker (Michael Madsen) return to Rockay City. The King has been killed, and his turf is up for grabs. You must act quick in order to make a name for yourself.

Each new run of this roguelite will see you choosing missions from a map to fulfil objectives. You may need money, so you would choose missions where you need to rob a warehouse/armoured car/bank/jewellery store/rival gang. Be prepared to do a hell of a lot of these. Attempts to variate these missions are there, such as swapping the location of the loot or throwing in some rival gang members to shoot. But these invariably play out the same every time.

Crime Boss: Rockay City has a stealth mechanic that does work, but completing a run without being spotted is another thing entirely. Most missions end in gunfight; firstly with whoever is guarding the initial loot, and then with the police that arrive soon after.

Speed is key in Crime Boss; the longer you take on a mission the tougher the spawning enemies become. In fact, I am surprised that there are any men left at all in Rockay City because your body count will be very high.

Speaking of Body Count, now would be a perfect time to mention the soundtrack accompanying all this excessive killing. The early 90’s aesthetic is perpetuated with songs such as Body Count’s in the House by Body Count, Freestyler by Bomfunk MC’s, Blaze of Glory by Jon Bon Jovi and Connected by Stereo MC’s. It’s fun and nostalgic to hear them the first time, but they are repeated over and over again.

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Expect many shootouts

In your moments of downtime, Crime Boss: Rockay City shows glimpses of a very interesting crime simulator. As well as going out on missions yourself, you need to control an army with the help of the wise-cracking Touchdown, voiced by Michael Rooker. These units are used to take-over areas of Rockay City; the more units you assign to an area, the easier the subsequent deathmatch-esque mission is. In all honesty, these turf wars could probably do without the following shootout which is more of the same simple gameplay, and instead of focus on playing out these turf wars as something different.

Your missions where you steal various objects are collected in your stash until you need them. Kim Basinger – of all people – is in charge of this, but you can choose when to buy and sell the items depending on their current mark up or mark down in the market.

But Crime Boss: Rockay City can also be a cruel mistress. The campaign is hefty as you attempt to control every location and defeat the other crime lords. But if Travis Baker is killed whilst out on a mission, that campaign run is over. There are revives available should you be downed, but you can also be killed instantly with a grenade or a pistol whip to the back of the head.

When a run ends, your boss level carries over along with any unlocked perks you’ve got on your posse. Controlled territories, progress on story missions, stashed loot and more are all lost, however.

If the risk is too great, then you have other options.

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Prove yourself!

There is also a tutorial which would be the obvious place to start, but this also highlights the bugs the game has. You will be shown the basics of the stealth mechanics and shown how to intimidate NPCs into submitting. Only those NPCs never spawned for me, leaving me with no option but to charge in and start shooting. To be fair though, that’s how most missions end up playing out anyways; the stealth isn’t great in Crime Boss.

Multiplayer modes can be found in the Crime Time and Urban Legends modes. Crime Time is your quick play mode whereas Urban Legends paints a bit of a story over the same, repetitive missions that are in every other mode. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say these are borrowing assets from the main campaign, just with a multiplayer component.

Crime Boss: Rockay City may have piqued interests when it was first announced, what with its fun but respected ensemble cast. But it is let down by buggy and repetitive gameplay. The FPS action is arcadey and fun for a while, but there is precious little else to it. You could try a stealthier approach, but that will only end in a gunfight anyways.

There are glimpses of a great crime sim in Crime Boss: Rockay City, but to find them you’ll need to be able to last long enough in the campaign. The roguelite elements at play do little to keep you plugging away for long though.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Interesting crime sim elements
  • Good ensemble cast
Cons:
  • Highly repetitive gameplay
  • Dodgy stealth mechanics
  • Few big bugs
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - 505 Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 15 June 2023 | £34.99
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Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Interesting crime sim elements<li> <li>Good ensemble cast</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Highly repetitive gameplay</li> <li>Dodgy stealth mechanics</li> <li>Few big bugs</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - 505 Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 15 June 2023 | £34.99</li> </ul>Crime Boss: Rockay City Review
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