Could Robocop Rogue City Have Benefited From the Nemesis System?
One of the most challenging parts of any story is creating an interesting villain, but even more complicated is having lower-level bosses connect with the player. This very problem was one of the reasons that Monolith Studio developed the Nemesis system for the Middle-earth: Shadow of War series. This system allowed enemy orcs to change and adapt due to the player's actions. Each orc that managed to kill the player would eventually gain their own personality and traits. These enemies could, if not immediately murdered, get stronger and more complex as the game went on. This system allowed the player to feel as though their actions had an impact on the world, but also let them craft their own stories.
However, I am not here to talk about how good the Middle-earth series is, better people than I have already done that. Instead, I want to talk about how another game could hypothetically use similar systems and how it could fit into the universe. This series has had its villains, and even its protagonist, die and then return in a new form with new powers. The game I am talking about is, of course, Dino Crisis…kidding, it’s the upcoming RoboCop: Rogue City. The latest game from developer Teyon and publisher Nacon, the game lists itself as a first-person shooter. So far we have seen gameplay taking place in open levels that allow players to experience being RoboCop, but there is more that could be offered.
One of the issues that RoboCop might have is the same as any FPS in a semi-open world, namely, shooting people can get dull after a while. This should be helped by RoboCop’s detective mechanic which adds a mental element to the game. Yet the problem remains that once you solve the crimes, you are going to just walk in and shoot the criminals. There doesn’t seem to be any real connection between the player and the criminals past the surface level, but taking inspiration from both Monolith and the movies might hold the key.
Now, it might be the case that some of you have never watched the ‘old’ RoboCop movies (RoboCop 2 came out in 1990, it wasn’t that long ago, and no one can tell me different), but there was a common trend throughout. To the uninitiated, the films seem to be about a robotic police officer hunting down criminals, and that does happen, but one of the main story points has to do with corporate corruption.
This theme will more than likely be explored in the game with OmniCorp, the lead company in the movies, which often take liberties with people's lives. However, what does this have to do with the Nemesis system? Well, the answer is the drug lord Cain, not to be confused with the satanic wrestler, the first murderer in the bible and a wealth of other people, one of the antagonists in the second film. During RoboCop 2 Cain is killed, but the people of OmniCorp use his brain to create the next generation of police officers, one that they can control using his addiction. This goes about as well as you can imagine, really, and Cain kills almost everyone who created him before he is taken down.
Cain’s journey could be at the forefront of the new game, the idea of old foes being turned robotic after their death and perhaps beyond. For instance, imagine you are given a side quest to take down a local gang in one of the areas. You spend most of your time exploring and solving crimes to bring them and their leader down. Eventually, after much work and close misses, you manage to corner your target and do your duty. Through all of this, you, as the player, have built up a relationship of sorts with this gang leader and feel connected to the character, but that all disappears when that character dies. You continue your journey, but suddenly, later in the game, you are stopped by another robot. The new enemy seems familiar to you, but you can’t place it until it suddenly hits you; this is the same gang leader who has returned with a new body and a desire for revenge.
This doesn’t have to even be plot-based; instead, it could be any of the minibosses of street thugs you take down. Each of them could have a chance to return again and again, and each time they lose a small amount of their humanity. While this feature wouldn’t need to be the focus of the game, its addition adds some weight to the player's actions. Perhaps if they killed the opposing gang member, then they return more violent, or if they are arrested, they instead appear more conniving. This could act like a morality system of sorts, with the player's actions helping to shape how the corporation develops your foes.
One of the hardest aspects of any game based on an established universe is making it feel like a part of fans' expectations. This often involves the addition of voices from the original properties or the closest alternative, as well as recognisable locations. However, other options should be explored sometimes, and a system like Monolith’s would have been perfect. Sadly Monolith has retained a tight leash on the program, so its benefits to other properties are all conjecture. Ah, well, at least we can dream, right?