Let’s Play Half Life – Part 15: FOR SCIENCE!

Thoughts on the game thus far: Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate this game’s enemy AI, especially the human soldiers. Now, the alien enemy AI was pretty good, but nothing special. But the human soldiers…shit! They’ve done everything from utilizing cover, to doing flanking maneuvers, to trying to flush me out of hiding with grenades! This is stuff that enemies in recent games like Mass Effect don’t do! It just adds a whole other dimension to the game when it feels like you’re up against something intelligent, and not simply bots that are set up for your killing enjoyment (which is what most FPSes feel like to me, which is one reason I don’t like playing them.) Keep in mind too that I’m playing on the easiest difficulty level–I have no idea if that simply effects the amount of damage dealt and received, or if it dumbs down the AI too. I hope not, because I can’t imagine trying to fight these soldiers on Hard if they get even smarter.

This gets me thinking…just how important IS AI to a game? It has nothing to do with the story or plot or characters…hell, its not even a game mechanic or interface. Yet its a completely vital aspect of gameplay which, if its off, destroys immersion, wrecks difficulty curves, and can render an otherwise acceptable game utterly unplayable. As one who plays far more RPGs than FPSes, I haven’t given much thought to this sort of AI, but it really is amazing to watch it executed this well. I mean the tactics are fairly rudimentary in and of themselves, but for 1998 this must have been groundbreaking–heck, even now, like I said, there are plenty of games that don’t have AI this good. If Valve can do it, why can’t others?

As for the plot…its thickening. It looks like we’ll be heading up to the surface next, which you’d think would mean the end of the game, since the surface is where we’ve been trying to get to thus far. I have this nagging suspicion all won’t be well once we finally get there, though…

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