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What The Critics Are Saying About Crime Boss: Rockay City

The initial announcement of "Crime Boss: Rockay City" was met with a polarized response. The title first came to the public's attention during the 2022 Game Awards ceremony, during which actors Michael Madsen, Kerby Joe Grubb, and Damion Poitier took the stage to debut the game's first official trailer. Ingame Studios' "Crime Boss: Rockay City" tasks players with pulling off first-person heists alone or with friends, all under the eye of a star-studded cast of 80s Hollywood heroes. Each successful mission unlocks further modes and jobs, which players are encouraged to complete as flawlessly as possible during the title's rouge-lite campaign.


With a premise like that, and with the game embracing an over-the-top action movie aesthetic, the comparisons to "Grand Theft Auto" were inevitable. The first trailer drew some jokes from the crowd at home, despite the fact that it clearly leaned into the silliness of the genre. 

So how have the critics enjoyed their first trip to Rockay City? Reviews are finally dropping on the game's official launch date, so read on to find out.

Crime Boss: Rockay City doesn't offer much new

One of the first things noted by many critics is just how much "Crime Boss: Rockay City" feels like a throwback to a bygone era. Although the game immediately courted comparisons to "Grand Theft Auto" with its first trailer, it actually has a lot more in common with the heist mission structure of the "Payday" series, just with a few modern bells and whistles tossed in for good measure. 


Unfortunately, it seems there's just not enough substance available at launch for most reviewers to be able to fully enjoy the title. Lex Luddy at TheGamer writes, "It's a confounding mismatch of things that worked in a four-player shooter from 2011, with progression from modern single-player roguelikes and management games, all topped off with the most disinterested celebrity voice actors since Ronda Rousey took over as Sonya Blade."

The roguelike elements have thus far received the most praise from critics, though. Players have a series of tasks to complete each day, with the end goal being to overthrow rival gangsters and take over their trades. Death means starting back from square one. GGRecon's review calls this "by far the most fleshed-out of the experiences," noting that the rest of the game's modes felt undercooked in comparison.


But even with the draw of a permadeath mode, a number of critics argue that all of the game's activities start to blend together after a while. Attack of the Fanboy's Noah Nelson finds that most missions take just a few minutes to complete, and many of them begin without much of an explanation of what you're meant to be doing. Still, Nelson writes that the smaller missions do make for a more casual experience, which may appeal to some players.

Crime Boss: Rockay City brings the celebs, but not much else

By and large, critics have found that the game ultimately doesn't feel polished. Numerous reviews have noted that the game's combat can be frustrating, particularly when it comes to gunplay. Rock Paper Shotgun's Alice Bell complains that shooting skills need to be leveled up to allow for proper aiming, while the stealth segments often punish players if they try to sneak outside of a tight arena. Likewise, SVG's own review notes that further updates could help flesh out the game, but that the launch version of the title just isn't all there yet.


One of the game's biggest draws – and a major aspect of its marketing campaign – is the cast that sends players on the game's missions. Movie stars like Kim Basinger, Chuck Norris, and more all pop in to relay orders and set players up for big missions. Unfortunately, the cast doesn't add all that much to the experience. ScreenRant's review argued that this cast could have made a greatly entertaining movie out of "Crime Boss" about three decades back, but they do little to elevate a game that doesn't have much to say on its own.

SVG's review notes that the game's cutscenes "feature the game's massive cast of Hollywood actors, but are delivered in such a way that they are more disorienting and confusing than anything else. They bombard the player with discordant fragments of information, leaving the player to try and piece it all together."


Basically, there's some kitsch value to be found in a "Payday" clone starring Vanilla Ice and Michael Rooker, but most gamers might not be missing out on too much if they decide to give this one a pass.