Upcoming co-op FPS gives GTA 5 a run for its money

Sheriff Norris looks unimpressed
(Image credit: Ingame Studios)

The ominous whir of a helicopter overhead indicates that a SWAT team is en route. The police have caused us more than enough trouble, but our drill will need just a bit more time to pry open the safe. I dart out from behind cover, firing a couple of satisfying blasts from my pump action shotgun into the torso of a nearby cop. 

It’s not enough. Before long, SWAT has us surrounded. The drill finishes its job, and we yank the diamonds from their hiding place. With an air of frantic desperation, we attempt to break the enemy blockade. Two of us go down. I don’t even look back. I carry on running, strafing from cover to cover as I attempt to reach the getaway van. 

With only 50 meters to go, a bullet nicks me in the back and I collapse. It’s game over. The screen cuts to Sheriff Norris (played, funnily enough, by literal actual Chuck Norris), who gloats at us while wielding a pair of oversized revolvers. I feel like a fool, but I know I’ll make that darn sheriff eat his words next time. 

Crime Boss: Rockay City is a roguelike FPS from Ingame Studios in which you attempt to dominate a metropolis through ruthless criminal enterprise and applied violence. The main campaign is single-player, but the game also features a pair of dedicated co-op modes: Urban Legends and Crime Time. 

In Urban Legends, you play through a mini-campaign of heists interspersed with short, charming, and over-the-top cutscenes. After playing a series of preview missions, I can happily report that Crime Boss is so much more than empty 90s nostalgia.  

Shooting and looting

The gang shoot up a bank

(Image credit: Ingame Studios)

On the surface, Crime Boss’s co-op mode looks like standard fare: pick a character, pick a mission and go.

However, as soon as you hit the loadout screen, you’re asked to make a choice. You only have room for one special item, not to mention a limited number of uses of said item. Do you choose a handful of rocks to help distract guards during stealth sections, or do you pick a single, deadly frag grenade? On top of that, each character has their own set of traits, giving them distinctive and interesting arrays of strengths and weaknesses. Before you even start your mission, Crime Boss has forced you to make satisfyingly difficult choices. 

Before you even start your mission, Crime Boss has forced you to make satisfyingly difficult choices

The head-scratchers don’t stop there, either. Urban Legends mode is brimming with difficult decision points which keep players guessing. Though there’s a variation on the formula, most of Urban Legends’ missions involve shooting up a location and stealing as much as possible. 

You begin most missions incognito. However, once you go loud, you’ll gradually draw more and more unwanted attention from the police. Each wave of enemies gets tougher and tougher as you frantically rush to complete the objective. This tension gives Urban Legends some serious appeal.

In Crime Boss, carrying loot incurs an opportunity cost. Carry one bag and you’re fine, carry two or more, though, and you’ll be limited to your sidearm. Once you secure a route to the getaway vehicle, you’ll need to decide exactly how much loot to pile into the back before you exit. Do you drag things out and get as many goodies as possible or play it safe?

This risk-reward element is at the heart of Crime Boss’ fast-paced and demanding missions. In isolation, Crime Boss’ mechanics are simple, broad brush strokes. However, when placed side by side, they allow for organic decision points to emerge during heists, making for a memorable and polished co-op experience.

I'm in

Baker considers the map screen

(Image credit: Ingame Studios)

Urban Legends is only one of the game modes on offer in Crime Boss and it isn’t the main attraction. This honor falls upon Baker’s Battle mode; the game’s single-player, roguelike offering. 

In Baker’s Battle, you take on the role of Travis Baker, played by Reservoir Dogs’ Michael Madsen. Baker’s mission is simple but ambitious: to become the king of Rockay City’s criminal underworld. To achieve this lofty goal, you’ll be pitted against rival, AI-controlled gangs as you decide which heists to take on and how to build your criminal empire.

Ingame Studios weren’t able to show us this mode at the preview. Though the slick and dynamic experience shown off in Urban Legends does bode well for Baker’s Battle, a great deal of Crime Boss’ experience hangs upon how effectively Ingame can deliver on the promises of their ambitious single-player campaign.

I cannot say for certain if Baker’s Battle will cut the mustard, but the sheer joy at the heart of Urban Legends mode has me convinced that Crime Boss is one to watch.

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.