Synyster Graves

There’s no “I” in team…but there is “meat”

by on Dec.20, 2010, under Gamer Rages

Today I’d like to focus on how unbelievably awful “friendly troops” are in gaming in general. We’re moving into the kind of games which can capacitate the graphics of a full scale assault within a squad in shooting games and with that come computer controlled team members. Long gone are the days when you’re the only person in a war like in the Medal of Honor series whereby you singlehandedly wipe the entire Nazi army by yourself, now there is such a tendency towards co-op that there are characters who will stick with you so that another player can join your fight.

From my days of playing on the Playstation 2 I don’t recall too many games whereby you have to assault tactical installions as a squad, it was all very solo stuff. Obviously there were some exceptions like Ghost Recon, but at least you had to option of switching between members of your squad. But in all hoensty, the computer controlled team mates were relatively competent. They didn’t run off randomly and they actually returned fire appropriately.

Man love aside, Marcus and Dom did team up well, even if the AI was bit stupid

But then the next gen consoles came out and with them were flagship games like Gears of War. First impressions of the game were astounding, the graphics in high definition were a thing of beauty and most importantly, this game was designed as a co-op game. Player one would take control of Marcus Fenix and player two was Dominic Santiago. You also got Cole and Baird as non-playable characters but the main core of it was the teamwork between Marcus and Dom. In two player, this is brilliant. In single player, it’s impossible. Why? Because when the AI takes over a character of whom is designed for a human player, they seem to have this implemented brain dead approach. I mean it’s awful. There’s so many co-operative gears and doors you have to do together and the AI never helps you out until about the fourth time of asking. It’s like playing with a stubborn child, you have to patiently guide them to each QTE section and hold their hands like a petulant child.

Sheva on the other hand was completely retarded when an AI

But all-in-all, Gears of War wasn’t too bad in terms of the AI because to their credit, Dom did actually used to fire back when he’s not stealing all the ammunition. Which then brings me nicely to Resident Evil 5. Co-op mode is brilliant, no doubt about it. In single player however, you’ll find yourself punching the sofa and throwing remotes a lot because a CPU controlled Sheva Alomar is about as helpful as a potato peeler in a tsunami. It’s almost as if they forgot to program any kind of sense into her. She always uses the pistol no matter how matter how much decent hardware you provide her, she’ll use an entire health spray if you cut yourself and she never seems to think it’s a good idea to, well, not walk into a death trap. The single player of Res5 for this reason is completely ruined by stupid AI movements.

The AI are too useless to try anything precise...

But when it comes to stupid AI characters, nothing can beat the Left 4 Dead games. Originally designed to be a 4-player co-op, single play is just royally painful because of the sheer stupidity of the AI controlled survivors. They steal medi-packs from you even if you’re dying, they wander aimlessly in the swathes of undead as if they’re strolling to the shops to buy a newspaper and they have complete and utter disregard for other team members. When they’re not antagonising a witch zombie, they’re faffing about doing precisely nothing apart pissing me off. If there’s a point in a level whereby you do need pick up the pace and move on, the AI members will be dawdling about at the back, almosy completely oblvious to the undead apocalypse they find themselves in. It’s the fact that the games were designed to have reliance on teamwork i.e. attacks form hunters, smokers, jockeys, etc require help from another member, which never, ever, happens as quickly as having another human about. It’s not the fact that the AI don’t help straight away, it’s the fact that they comes stand next to you, scratch thier arse and ask how the weather is before realising that the undead hooded monster is infact removing your face with this talons rather than attempt to french kiss you like a horny adolescent. They never follow you sufficiently as you’ll find yourself in a saferoom by your lonesome a good minute ahead of the rubbish AI casually strolling in like a Persian cat in a millionaire’s atrium. And this is the other frustrating fact about them, our great friends at Valve didn’t think it was prudent to program it so that the AI can pick up throwable wepaons like pipebombs and molotov cocktails. Now for those of you who have played this game, you will know that a pipebomb is a goddamn lifesaver. But playing on your own, only you can pick one of these up. It’s madness. Can’t you give orders to your ambient team mates? Or better yet procure and provide them with stuff in a interactive inventory? Even Resident Evil 5 had that! I figure that if they’re going to be shit, you can at least prepare them accordingly.

"Can you lot at least pretend to shoot something? Please?"

Ambient team members are also completely benign and useless and never seem to actually do any damage whatsoever to the enemy. I’m talking about games like Earth Defence Force 2017 and Vanquish in this. The nameless squad members will run about firing weapons in the air like some semi-automatic rodeo but don’t actually seem to kill, well, anything. True I’d prefer that to them killing everything and you just sitting down, following blindly, playing with your balls, only to find you’ve completed the level without firing a single shot. But it seems that the higher the difficulty, the lamer they get. The AI team mates don’t ramp up their abilities like the enemy do on harder levels, instead they stay the same. Same as being utterly useless and this time more vulnerable to enemy fire. You’d think that if an enemy grunt can take more damage, i.e. half a clip of bullets before thier demise, that your teammates could survive a bee sting before dying without revival. Unless most games believe the majority of soldiers are anaphylactic imbeciles.

So in conclusion, since the formation of the next gen consoles, I’m still waiting to see a game whereby the AI aren’t completely atrocious and, dare I say it, useful? If I want to be surrounded by mindless numpties, I’ll go into a supermarket thank you very much.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Whyte Rabit

    Totally agree, luckily I have my partner in crime to play most co-op games with (Gears of War / Resident Evil etc) so don’t get much experience of the retarded AI companions, but I have been going back through Call of Duty 3 as I realised I hadn’t completed it on veteran yet and the AI is infuriating. They have fixed most of these issues in the more recent CoD titles, but in CoD3 for example, if you’re sat by a wall, firing round the corner and an AI teammate decides they want to shoot from where you’re sat, they’ll plain push you out into the open and take your place. You’re left stood in the middle of a hailstorm of bullets and on ‘1 hit kills’ you usually don’t last long at all.

    The other thing I really hate, is that when they put you as “Private Gimp, 1st Marine Recon” or whatever outfit you’re in. Then why the hell don’t the AI advance at all? Why does the Private have to make the first move, surely there’s a Sergeant around here somewhere who is pushing the advance? no? hmmm. Well if no one is going to move until I do, then either put me in charge or let me go round the side and flank the krauts. Charging this MG42 nest head on really is a bad idea. I know it’s World War II but did you learn nothing from the first war?

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