In the early days of gaming, enemy or NPC characters would follow a set path and seldom would react to your reactions. However, as the hardware drastically improved and programmers honed their craft, games have seen a monumental upgrade in enemy artificial intelligence. Many games have seen enemies band together and form a defense or coordinate an attack against the player. Sports games have seen game plays altered according to how the player is playing and fighting games have seen computer players being to adjust and predict movements. However, these advancements seem to have escaped Zipper Interactive, develops of the popular SOCOM series for the Sony PlayStation 2.
Fans that have played the series since its debut will be able to recall teammates that were extremely intelligent and would have been capable of completing a granted mission by their lonesome (if the proper commands would have been available). The computer teammates would call out enemies long before you could ever make visual contact and in that same token, they would take out enemies before you could realize where they were. While some players might have found this annoying, the degree of difficulty of the first two games (most notably lacking checkpoints) managed to balance out the broken AI. Teammates would also become stuck in certain places, though most could be attributed to the fact that levels sometimes invited such a bad move.
The intelligence of teammates remained, especially when paired with partners that were of a different Special Forces unit, such as the SAS. As with the first game, the intelligence of squad mates remained and they were extremely capable, though off-handed mistakes might occur as a result of characters becoming stuck. Though, these problems could be rectified with patience in nudging or ordering the soldier around until they were free.
With the release of SOCOM 3, the game received a cleaner, sharper look along with checkpoints in missions which also decreased the degree of difficulty. However, even with the new vehicles, commands, and equipment, the intelligence of the artificial intelligence declined immensely. Teammates could be seen running guns-blazing towards a group of enemies or standing in front of a mounted turret. Computer controlled teammates would also sometimes run towards planted C4 or satchel charges just as they were about to explode. Even further, players would sometimes find other teammates calling out “Man Down” because of a computer controlled teammate falling off of a cliff or a rooftop. The computer also seemingly lost all of its accuracy, making the ability to trust teammates on stealth missions virtually impossible.
This trend continued in Combined Assault, the latest addition to the console games. The computer can be seen running off towers and running into the blast radius of grenades. However, combined assault allows players to go online and use a co-op mode to progress through the single-player campaign with some help. Nevertheless, the computer has quite simply as never been this stupid. With all of the latest advancements in gaming, it’s shocking that Zipper Interactive can’t figure out a way to make Navy SEALs act to par with their real life counterparts.