Only really surpassed by Cowboys and Indians, Cops & Robbers is one of the oldest rivalries around and it provides a massive amount of potential for an MMO game. A few developers have attempted to brave new grounds with the release of titles such as APB: Reloaded but that game focuses more on third-person shooting action than actual cops and robbers mechanics.
The only real gameplay experience that I felt really captured the Cops and Robbers theme was a mod created for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. San Andreas multiplayer, simply known as SAMP, is a mod that allows up to 200 players to join a single server featuring the San Andreas map. Although that was a treasure in itself the real treat came in the form of custom scripting.
The custom scripts allowed talented individuals to create entirely unique game modes within each server, varying from stunt mods to full roleplay games. One of the more popular mods was a cops and robbers theme that provided support for a variety of illegal activities.
Players could choose to grow and export, or sell, a variety of illegal substances, rob casinos and banks, or even take people hostage. The money earned could be spent on purchasing new cars, new properties or weapons and accessories. Obviously the police were also involved and had various tools at their disposal to stop criminals at every turn. Many of the servers supported realistic police tactics and some even included P.I.T training, as well as the correct usage of firearms and official police code, adding a depth of realism to an already impressive experience.
There’s something quite special about the experience offered in SAMP. Having just robbed a massive casino I was making an escape with friends via a well organized car escape. The police were hot on our tail with a chopper overhead, but we were prepared for it all. I pulled into a multistory car park where we had 5 other friends waiting, all in identical cars; and sure enough it was exactly like a scene from Hollywood. We managed to lose the chopper and only had 1 car chasing us, with the horizon in sight we were clear. That was until we hit a road block resulting in the immediate destruction of our car, my friend getting arrested and me jumping to my death in an effort to escape.
This is another area that MMO developers fear to tread. There has to be a heavy level of risk vs reward in these types of situations; but it’s quite often a bold player-created mod that takes the first step. People are not as quick to criticize a 3 hour jail sentence, where you literally just sit in jail, when it was the design choice of a single player. However, put that same experience into a AAA game and it would be a completely different story.
Have you ever played SAMP? How would you feel about a legitimate cops and robbers MMO? Let us know below.