Worst Game AI

So I was cleaning off the old HD and I played a couple of rounds of Civilization (the original) before backing it up and removing it. Man, those were the days – your enemies would spend turns and turns aimlessly moving units, wouldn’t ever upgrade, you could steal their food by using Diplomats and starve their cities, they couldn’t even figure out how to build wonders properly. It’s old, but I have such fond memories.

What are your favorite tricks to screw with a particular AI, and what are the stupidest AIs ever?

Well, it depends on what you mean by AI. One could argue that the enemies in Super Mario Bros. contain the worst AI ever since they merely follow patterns and will frequently walk off cliffs as a result. However, barring simple patterns I’d have to say the worst AI is…well damn, I just don’t know. I often joke about Goldeneye being some of the worst, but I know I’ve seen far worse…

Well, in god mode, many Deus Ex enemies are exposed as morons. You can trick them into holes, where they will exhaust all their ammo and then start jabbing at nothing with their knives. If you shoot them with poison darts, they look like club dancers.

I’ve still never encountered better AI than the first time you meet soldiers in Half Life. The way those guys coordinated with each other to take me out: it was REAL.

I seem to remember that the Police cars in <i>Grand Theft Auto</i> were notrious for ramming the back of my vehicle repeatly and blowing themselves up as a result, while at the same time, failing to notice an army tank holding a mutiple felon that has just wrecked half the city because you presumably painted it a different color and put a different set of plates on.

Many shooters have problems with the fact that you can fire off machine guns and rocket launchers, but unless someone sets off an alarm, there are enemy troops that will be caught unawares regardless (Ummm, the machine gun fire doesn’t make you wonder if something’s wrong?)

<i> Theif</i> had a part where you need to break into a prison to rescue someone. At one point, you hear a guard whistling constantly, not far from other guards. If you knock him out, I wondered about the fact that the other guards didn’t seem to notice the whistling had stopped. Same with guards walking a patrol route. Wouldn’t someone notice when they guard failed to pass by after so many minutes(particulary if they normally passed another guard.

Maybe not so much poor AI for most of these, but rather, really stupid guards and enemies.

The sidekicks in Daikatana. It was probably the worst thing about the game. If they died you restarted the level, and that’s all they were good at. Getting themselves killed. They’d run into empty elevator shafts, and had the tactical brain to step into your line of fire as you unleashed bullets-o-death from your gun.

The NPCs in Arcanum were terrible. One of the main ones was a fellow with healing powers. In Arcanum, casting a spell fatigues you, and if you get fatigued enough, you fall unconscious. He would happily cast healing spell after healing spell on me until he dropped unconscious. He’d do this in combat, instead of attacking whatever I was fighting, killing it, and then healing me. They were frustratingly stupid, and good primarily as pack mules.

Oh those darn NPCs in Fallout! You give Ian a gun and ammo, and the moron insists on knifing your opponents! That halfwit Katja won’t use a gun to save her life, no matter what you give her. And Dogmeat goes off on suicide missions while the rest of the gang is attacking a single foe.

The Civ I AIs were notorious. Circling triremes off your coast, attacking fortified units on mountains, not expanding their empires.

Or, at the other extreme, they’ll fire a submachine gun burst when you’re standing between them and the target.

Give them a break, though, they’re descended from Ace in the game Wasteland, who would ONLY fire off entire clips at a time.

Then there’s the Command & Conquer AI, who would see a line of sandbags and sit tight.

That isn’t the worst of Fallout. Whenver they did use automatic weaponry, they invariably shot you in the back.

Medal of Honor:Frontline on PS2.

German soldiers take no notice when you blow off the head of their comrade - who was standing six inches away.

I agree the cops in GTA are really stupid. For one thing, they’re constantly crashing their cars into each other. They also “think” 2-dimensionally - you can go on top of a building (via obvious stairs) and they will surround the building, but they won’t even try to come up the stairs.

Some people say that the “Pay ‘n’ Spray” shops bribe the police to ignore theri customers. What I wanna know is, if you go into a parking garage, ditch your car and come out in another one, how do the cops still know its you?

Any Single Player mission in ANY Delta Force (by Novalogic) game. For a “modern” FSP they have some really stupid AI. 3 bad guys walking a circle around the base, in theory defending it. You pop one, the other 2 will invariably drop to a knee and LOOK AT YOU VERY SCORNFULLY! They may occasionally shoot in your general direction, then stand up and run, until you shoot at them again. They do the whole drop to a knee and give you an evil glare. If you set the AI level to its highest setting, they still do the same thing, except they have a near PERFECT shot.

I haven’t played that many recent games, but I have found this humorous in Dynasty Warriors 2: If a gang of soldiers is running toward you, led by a captain, and you shoot the captain with your bow, he drops, and the others stop and wait for him to get up again before continuing to run toward you.

The bad guys in “Ratchet and Clank” have an interesting feature: if you’re at just the right distance away from a pair of them, you can kill one and the other won’t even notice. Even if they’re standing right next to one other, facing you, with nothing in the way to block their view. It really suprised me to see that kind of behaviour in a game that new.

“Hey, my partner just exploded. That’s odd. I wonder if it has anything to do with that guy with the smoking blaster pistol standing over there?”

I should also point out that in many of the Infinity Engine games (Bladur’s Gate, Icewind Dale) you can get out of an enemy’s range of sight, cast an area effect, persistant damage spell (Spike Stones, Cloudkill) and they’ll just stand there and take damage until they die.

One of the Hockey games, I think it was NHL97 had the worst AI for any sports game ever created. It was so much worse than the previous years. The defense just couldn’t cover a man worth a shit , and you constantly got two and three on nothing breaks. They realized it before release and dealt with it by making the goalies gods. I realized that it didn’t matter how well the shot was set up or far out of goal the goalie was(he would just hold his stick behind him and block 5 concecutive shots with it) it was like the lottery. Just take as many shots as you can and hope the computer decides to let one of them score. In one playoff game overtime game I had like 347 shots and no goals(the computer had 135 shots and no goals)

In Warcraft II, the computer couldn’t attack walls. Of course, you could only build them in multiplayer games (and it generally wasn’t worth the trouble).

My favorite Fallout NPC experience was in Fallout 1, in the scoripion cave, when the Ian the NPC follower backed me into a corner and refused to move. My only recourse was to pummel him to death.

My friends and I had great fun creating dialouge for them.
Me: C’mon, Ian, move. I’m stuck here.
Ian: No, I’m happy here. Really.
Me: See, Ian, I’m not happy. You’ve blocked me into the damn corner. Move.
Ian: Can’t you see I’m busy here? Standing ain’t easy.
Me: Move! (punch)
Ian: No!
(repeat ad infinitum until Ian dies)

Lesson of the day- Some NPCs take setting their following distance to “close” a little bit too seriouslt.

I immediately thought of the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games. I recall one time I beat Scorpion by the genius tactic of…crouching and repeatedly punching him in the nads. He’d give a demonic yell, fall down (or otherwise enter the “pain” animation) and then get right back up and get punched in the nads again.

Of course, the flip side of bad AI programming immediately showed itself in the next match–I’d get crushed. The game had NO differentiation. You go from “taking candy from a drunk shriner” to “demon overlord of doom” in one match. Awful.