Crime Boss: Rockay City Is the Year’s Weirdest Gaming Disaster

Celebrity shooter Crime Boss: Rockay City is being blasted by fans and critics who have revealed some of the many reasons why this game is the year's strangest disaster.

Crime Boss Rockay City
Photo: 505 Games

During last year’s Game Awards, 505 Games announced Crime Boss: Rockay City. Nobody knew what the game was really about, as the trailer promised celebrities such as Michael Madsen, Kim Basinger, Danny Trejo, and Danny Glover. After that trailer, we didn’t really hear anything about the game until its recent release. And now we might know why.

On March 28, Crime Boss: Rockay City essentially stealth released on the Epic Games store, with the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 versions to follow shortly this June. Reviews dropped around the same time, and most, if not all, say the same thing: Crime Boss: Rockay City plays a lot like PayDay 2 but much worse. Controls are floaty, missions are more or less the same, and enemies tend to be unfair bullet sponges. Even when a job seemingly calls for stealth, one way or another, it always ends in shootouts. Unlike PayDay 2, Crime Boss: Rockay City includes a single-player campaign and several Left 4 Dead-like co-op campaigns, but they all recycle the same heists and missions as the base multiplayer component. 

Crime Boss: Rockay City’s presentation doesn’t fare that much better. Many critics and reviews state that writing ranges from bad to cringy, and subtitles are rife with grammatical errors that have led some to speculate that they were quite possibly generated by an A.I. program. Even worse, the game has clearly squandered its “star-studded” cast. It’s odd that there’s a fairly major game banking off of Chuck Norris jokes in 2023, but you would at least expect to see Chuck Norris portray some kind of sheriff who storms into nightclubs on horseback as the dictionary definition of “badass.” Instead, he’s just kind of…there. Any actual entertainment value these celebrities could have delivered is also ruined by what gamers are calling wooden (or worse) performances. In fact, it’s kind of a stretch to call the celebrity appearances in this game “performances” at all.

While the game’s truly terrible dialog is enough to deprive any actor of their will to work, there are times when it almost feels like the dialog was delivered via Cameo requests rather than studio sessions. Some of the lines don’t even sound like they were spoken into a proper microphone. The only apparent exception is Damion Pointier, whose audio quality is reportedly suspiciously better than the rest of the cast. Who would have thought that Vanilla Ice would (possibly literally) phone it in?

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However, the most notable thing about the game at this time is how weird the whole thing is and how the game is filled with content that is nearly inexplicable and often pretty shocking.

For instance, it seems that there is a glitch in the game that causes a topless version of Kim Basinger’s character model to load instead of the seemingly intended clothed version of the character. What’s particularly strange about this glitch is that an unusual number of people seem to be encountering it, to the point where many wondered if it was supposed to be part of the game. It certainly doesn’t seem like it should be, though a “feature” like that comes depressingly close to matching this game’s general maturity level.

Various other glitches seemingly raise questions regarding the line between bad design and technical problems. The same few character models are repeated throughout, certain enemies feel nearly unkillable, AI companions play by their own rules (of physics), and the game is filled with bizarre side missions and cutaways to seemingly random activities that feel largely disconnected from the rest of the experience. Glitches are one thing, but there are times when you’re genuinely not sure if everyone was on the same page regarding what game they were working on.

It’s worth noting that reviews of Crime Boss: Rockay City are not all doom and gloom. Many critics state the game at least offers a unique blend of different mechanics, including roguelike progression. But even that mechanic finds a way to mess up the finished product. On one hand, roguelike progression offers plenty of perks to give players an edge and make each run easier, but everything soon starts running together, which turns the roguelike mechanics from a blessing into a curse.

The general consensus regarding Crime Boss: Rockay City is the game lacks an identity. It plays too much like other titles — specifically PayDay 2 and Left 4 Dead — to stand out, and when it tries to do something unusual for the genre, such as roguelike mechanics, these ideas end up ruining the flow and pacing. As some have pointed out, even the name “Crime Boss: Rockay City” sounds generic and akin to those mobile games with intentionally deceptive advertising. The identity Crime Boss: Rockay City rests with its celebrity cast, but thanks to lackluster performances, their presence is unwarranted. Many gamers are convinced most people will forget about the game in a few months, and, given current reviews, that seems like a very likely outcome. If you find the time to do so, though, try to catch a few clips of what will almost certainly be the year’s strangest gaming disaster before it becomes little more than a memory.