Game Review: Crime Boss: Rockay City is as cheesy as it is messy

Crime Boss: Rockay City’s reveal felt like a nail being hit on the head. Between the stellar cast, featuring Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Chuck Norris (Walker Texas Ranger), Kim Basinger (Batman), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and even rapper Vanilla Ice, and the satiric nature of a crime-ridden beach city in the middle of a 90’s gang war, you’d be forgiven for turning your head towards this release. Unfortunately, Crime Boss: Rockay City feels like a missed opportunity, filled with clunky gunplay, repetitive mission design and some downright hilarious voice performances.

The City is Yours

Crime Boss: Rockay City takes place over three distinct modes, the first of which serves as the main campaign, titled Baker’s Revenge. You take the role of Baker (played by Madsen), who returns to Rockay City with intentions of joining the fray to retake what he believes is his piece of the pie. The campaign itself also features rogue-like elements, in which you’ll complete numerous missions in a row without dying, in order to overtake as much of the city as you can. Should you die, you’ll return to the very beginning.

You’ll spend your time recruiting soldiers to attack enemy hideouts and steal loot, even going as far to run heists, Payday style. The first issue which immediately presents itself is the lack of any cohesive story. One minute you’re in the middle of an endless firefight with cops, before you’re taken down, only to causally return a few minutes later to kick off the revenge tale, as if nothing had happened. Each time you die, the story loosely retells itself to bring you up to scratch, before leaving you to take down the city once again through those same handful of mission types. It’s relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things, but doesn’t present any real stakes for the player, instead pointing out that Baker and Detective Norris (ironically portrayed by Chuck Norris), ultimately hate each other in this basic game of cat and mouse.

You’ll be able to recruit soldiers with cash gained during missions, while upgrading Baker and his allies with specific perks to progress further into the campaign. While Baker’s perks are relatively straightforward , giving him extra health, damage and reducing weapon sway for example, supporting characters like Nasara and Casey (played by Basinger), provide extra perks like additional solider health boosts and added financial benefits from both cash gained during missions and boosts to certain “special” consumable items stolen from rival gangs, that are then resold for profit. While there’s admittedly numerous systems at work here, between managing funds to hire soldiers before each mission, to balancing supporting character upgrades and perks, it’s just a shame they all boil down to that repetitive mission structure which usually results in the same boring shootout between gang members that all like siblings. I know we’re supposed to be taking on other families, but this feels like stretch.

The Part We Play

While the aforementioned actors all play a part in supporting Baker’s quest to take back Rockay City, certain cutscenes are just laughable. Voice performances constantly feel like they’re being read off a script, lacking any believable emotions. Many of the facial animations are surprisingly accurate and detailed, but they simply don’t bring any of these characters to life, which once again feels like a missed opportunity, given many of these actors are filling the satirical versions of roles they had once played in many of their best films.

The second mode, known as Crime Time, brings to the forefront those same missions to earn quick rewards. You’ll get the chance to earn as much as you possibly can, with the ultimate goal being to complete each and every mission available. The third and final mode is Urban Legends, a rather unique mode that incorporates cooperative play, where up to three friends can join to take on mini-campaigns that are told over the course of three acts. There are six missions in total, which are admittedly best played with friends as you plan your method of attack, get lost in all of the chaos, and usually aim just to make it out alive by the end. These two remaining modes are short and sweet, making these much easier options to dip into for a quick session.

In terms of gameplay, Crime Boss: Rockay City is a mixed bag. While gunplay is functional, it’s often sluggish and repetitive, lacking any of the punch and responsiveness that even that Payday games did well. You’ll find and equip a number of weapons before and during missions, even if you’ll never really get the chance to put them through their paces as the missions rarely last longer than 10 or so minutes. It also sucks that you can only pick up certain enemy weapons, as others are dropped to the ground and simply fade away.

Where Crime Boss: Rockay City truly succeeds is during its heists. These missions not only remind me of Payday, but feel competent in their own right, delivering some tense moments as you and your friends take on a building step by step, disabling cameras, securing staff and ultimately making out clean with the goods. It’s not incredibly deep, but certainly works well for the short bursts of functional fun that it provides, making it one of the more engaging missions to choose from in any of the three modes.

Visually, Crime Boss: Rockay City provides some neat and accurate character models, even if environments and textures can feel a little muddy at times. Thankfully, the game ran quite well on PC, with only the occasional frame rate drop, while more prominent bugs and glitches hardy an issue. I will mention though, that the AI here is rough. Allies tend to get stuck in constant trances, while enemies stick out from all angles, leaving themselves open to all the bullets you can fire off.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Crime Boss: Rockay City can be commended for its multiple approaches and competent heist missions, even if the game’s satirical nature misses the mark. Missions are repetitive, gunplay feels clunky and awkward at times, while voice performances across the board to little to hammer home the humorous nature of its intentionally dated setting. It’s not necessarily broken in any major way, but ultimately fails to present anything new and exciting, with most of its prominent systems and mission structure borrowed from other titles. Crime Boss: Rockay City feels like it could have been something special; but this isn’t it.


Highlights: Solid heist missions, best played with friends
Lowlights: Ropey voice performances; Repetitive mission structure; Clunky gunplay
Developer: Ingame Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: Windows PC
Available: Now

Review conducted on PC via the Epic Games Store with a release code provided by the publisher. Console versions on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will release sometime in June, 2023.

Matthew Arcari

Matthew Arcari is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. You can find him on Twitter at @sirchunkee, or at the Dagobah System, chilling with Luke and Yoda.