Rockay City, A Bad Game

Rockay City, A Bad Game

Crime Boss: Rockay City, a game announced last year with a trailer that seemed like the world’s most untimely April Fool’s joke (it was in December), came out! You may not know it, because nobody talks about it.

If a game is good, people will talk about it. If a game is bad, people will talk about it too. If a game is bad in a way that also makes it interesting, we talk about it, and if a game is bad in an incredibly funny way, then, again, we talk about it. Maybe it’s a 1000-word piece of impressions on, maybe it’s a bunch of tweets, maybe it’s a series of videos about bloopers and misadventuresthese are all ways you (or someone, anyone) can talk about a video game.

This is important, because talking about a video game is the only way for us as a culture to keep a game alive. I don’t want to dwell on it too much on this post – which doesn’t have the bandwidth for it – but disks on a shelf are just pieces of plastic, and code on a hard disk is just 1 and 0s, which hang around. We are the ones who experience them, build memories/opinions about them and then share them with other people, who make video games what they are. What is all of this, what I write, what you read, the communities you form and are part of, if not just an important way for us to share our thoughts on video games ?

Anyway, what I mean here is that there’s room and wiggle room to talk about almost every video game on the planet, love them or hate them. Except Crime Boss: Rockay City. Of which no one (except me, here, in great distress) speaks, even though he has been out for almost a month. And now I know why.

I “played” this, as far as you can submit to sit and experience this game. And I found myself unable to review it, or even give my thoughts on it, in the way standard “hey check this out”. I was so disgusted by its packaging, so impressed with how it gets absolutely everything it sets out to do wrong that I feel like I have to write this and post it on the site just so that can someone else reassure me that all of this really happened.

Rockay City is a fever dream. It’s the outline of a video game, colored by tortured ghosts from the 80s and 90s. It’s like a fraudulent powerpoint presentation for a blockchain game, only with sections containing the actual gameplay. Here’s the game’s launch trailer (it’s out, you can buy it and even play it) to show that I’m not making this up:

Crime Boss: Rockay City – Official Launch Trailer

Michael Madsen carried the burden of 1000 lives in the recording studio for this, and none of them put on a good performance. Serial asshole Chuck Norris is so lifeless that a text-to-speech system from the 80s could have done a better job delivering his lines. Agents Kim Basinger and Danny Glover should be fired for this. And Vanilla Ice… well, Vanilla Ice is really great here, I have nothing bad to say about Vanilla Ice.

There is writing in Rockay City in the most qualifying sense, in that there are words in the English language that come after other words, but the question of whether these form complete and coherent sentences is up for debate. There’s also a plot, much like the key art and promo tweet for a Grand Theft Auto Online mission has a plot.

There’s no vision here beyond “here’s some stuff that might sound cool to the guys who also got into Johnny Depp’s lawsuit and whose two favorite movies are Resorvoir Dogs and Scarface.” There’s no context or cohesion either, though visually everything has the same generic crime-game sheen you’d expect from a clone of a clone of a GTA clone on Xbox 360. Watch Rockay City , is to be shaken from the inside of a shipping container full of Ed Hardy jeans and Steven Seagal films.

6 Minutes of Crime Boss: Official Rockay City Gameplay

What’s it like to play? See above. You sneak around a bit, you shoot some guys – who are often innocent people and take a lot of bullets – and then you shoot a lot more, because Rockay City never knows when to turn the volume down. It’s a “Level 99 Crime Boss” mobile game with the violent aspirations (or lack of a moral compass) of a late ’90s PC shooter.

Rockay City spent real money, paid for real Hollywood involvement. It was a detective game, he had guns, he spent enough money on marketing that he somehow appeared in a announcement article, that should have meant something to someone. Yet we have, to our collective credit, rejected this game outright. The game doesn’t just suck, even the idea that it sucks. It’s a conceptual disaster. Nobody talks about it, nobody plays with it; the game is only available on PC, but not on Steam, and its official subreddit has… 242 members.

I can’t say Rockay City is good. I can’t say it’s bad beyond the ways I’ve already described it (but here is his Metacritic page if you want to broaden your horizons). I can’t say it’s so bad that it’s good. Honestly, I don’t think traditional video game quantizers work here. This isn’t a 2023 game release, it’s a black hole in the middle of it, sucking in light and energy and carrying old actors into its void.


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