By huntad 1 Comments
After being given this idea, I began thinking of the best way to put my thoughts on the subject into words. Well, my mind went blank and now I have this little write-up.
Videogame Artificial Intelligence is a weird topic. It's not really discussed in volume, and it's hard to label a game as having bad A.I. and not consider the context. For example, is it fair to say that a zombie game has horrible A.I. even though the zombies act like zombies? Well, I'm here to say "Yes". It's very fair and very correct.
So, I hate zombie games. I hate almost all of them. I hate them, because I hate/despise/utterly shit on everything that zombies are in and what they stand for. Let's start by what they stand for - eating brains. Really? Either that or infected raging people is the best behind the 'glory' of zombies? I see a huge lack of imagination behind it. Besides, either way you have shambling or charging directly at you type of zombies, and that brings us to the subject of games and how they fit in. People like zombies because of the stupid concept and because they resemble humans, but avoid the taboo of being actual humans that you can dismember. That's fine, but you wanna know what I think?
Zombies in games are SO fucking boring to fight against. Most zombies simply shamble right after you (sometimes run) without any regard to their own personal safety and make the same grunting/screaming sounds over and over. This makes sense for the whole zombie concept, but they make for the worst, most piss-poor video game enemies ever. The worst part is that more and more zombie games are getting shat out, so A.I. seems to be taking a real nose-dive in gaming. The only zombie franchise/game that I'll even consider owning is Left 4 Dead, because they have the most diverse set of zombies in any zombie game. I'm not saying that zombies are to blame for this, but even Call of Duty enemies are extremely boring to fight.
If you really stop and look at what the enemies in a Call of Duty game do, they are either scripted to do something crazy, or just hunker down behind cover, pop up and shoot, and then hunker back down to throw a grenade. Instead of causing you to change your tactics or out-think them, they are really just making you hide, or move to another spot and hide, and then wait for them to peak up at the worst possible time for a headshot. Compare that to a game like the original F.E.A.R. and it makes CoD's A.I. look amateur. FEAR's enemies do everything that you, the player, can do besides time slowing stuff. They kick over objects, move from cover to cover, advance upon your position, and jump through glass to kill you. Instead of just making you move to another cover point, they make you think about which cover point is best and how to out-flank them. If you hunker down behind cover, you may peek up to find that that same enemy that was in the firefight with you has taken the opportunity to run right up on your left side and is now shooting you in the face. It's a really spectacular experience fighting those enemies, and even though they didn't vary at all, the game stayed fun and engaging throughout the entire story. It reminds me a lot of the original Halo in respect to the elites.
This brings me to my conclusion that the best type of enemy A.I. is the one that acts most like the player character. The enemies should be able to move around and interact with the entire environmental space just as the player is able to. If a game can nail that, enemy variation really isn't that necessary, because if that one enemy can keep me on my toes the entire 10-15 hours then I'll have no problem fighting it. In fact, Halo is a good example of good enemy A.I. and enemy variety with elites, grunts, and the flood all taking extremely different tactics to take you down. Not only that, but they weren't like CoD's enemies with perfect accuracy, and actually had recoil to deal with as well. I hope more game developers start programming better A.I. into their games, because I'd rather keep playing older games with good A.I. for a second time, rather than play one with cover-attached, bullet soaking, mindlessly shambling towards you-style enemies whether it be a zombie game, or not.