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Top 10 Video Games with the Best AI

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Kurt Hvorup Someday computers may rise up and kill us all, so it’s best to suck up to the most intelligent of them right now. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Games with the Best AI. For this list we’re looking for examples of virtual intelligence, whether it's used as friend or foe that stand tall in the games we love. We're focusing strictly on dynamic and reactive events, where the AI can show its strengths on its own terms, so no scripted sequences here. Also, and perhaps most importantly, we’re not saying the AI in these games are perfect… Special Thanks to our users "Vaibhav Gamit" & "Desmond Steven Richard" for suggesting this topic on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest.
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Script written by Kurt Hvorup

Top 10 Video Games with the Best AI


Someday computers may rise up and kill us all, so it’s best to suck up to the most intelligent of them right now. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Video Games with the Best AI.

For this list we’re looking for examples of virtual intelligence, whether it's used as friend or foe that stand tall in the games we love. We're focusing strictly on dynamic and reactive events, where the AI can show its strengths on its own terms, so no scripted sequences here. Also, and perhaps most importantly, we’re not saying the AI in these games are perfect…

#10: “Max Payne 3” (2012)

Sao Paulo just got a lot more dangerous. “Max Payne 3” sought to outdo its predecessors in terms of delivering brutal gunplay and tough-as-nails foes, which it miraculously does. Former cop Max Payne's enemies vary from common criminals to trained mercenaries, but they all share one thing: a keen tactical drive. They dive behind objects, move around the environment, and flank the player from all sides in the hopes of successfully gunning your character down. Better keep moving Max.

#9: “Thief: The Dark Project” (1998)

Sneaking in the shadows has never been quite as intense. The game's developer Looking Glass Studios wanted it to illustrate how combat with the enemy is something to be feared. To that end, the guards in each level of this game are highly reactive – their vision stretches across entire rooms, and they are quite sensitive to sound. They are also good about declaring their alertness state, so players can at least act according to the situation. But woe befall you if you do step out of line.

#8: “Condemned: Criminal Origins” (2005)

In Condemned: Criminal Origins, players guide forensic investigator Ethan Thomas through the worst day of his life. As limited access to firearms and a heavy reliance on melee weapons wasn’t bad enough, Ethan has to contend with some of the craftiest psychopaths you’ll ever find in gaming. The demented thugs you encounter love to feint, hoping to make you block at the wrong time, leaving you open to a devastating blow. If you do manage to land a hit, enemies will often turn tail and run, only to lurk in the shadows or behind a corner waiting for the perfect moment to bash your skull in.

#7: “Grand Theft Auto V” (2013)

Dynamic behaviour in games might seem like a distant reality, but here it gets a little closer. Thanks to innovations in the Euphoria game engine, characters in the world of “Grand Theft Auto V” react to player actions believably. Point your gun at a passing motorist, and they might slam on the breaks and take off in the other direction, cower in fear behind their steering wheel or put the pedal to the metal in an effort to ram you. Fender bend a guy’s sweet ride, and he might pull you out of your own and dish out a little street justice of his own. Little touches like this can be found by the hundreds, making Los Santos into a living breathing city rather than just a lifeless sandbox.

#6: “Left 4 Dead 2” (2009)

The Zombies might not be the smartest of enemies, but the real brains of the operation here is going on behind the scenes. Part of this multiplayer zombie-based shooter's design is based on the AI Director, a system that modifies the experience based on player actions. If you take the easy route, you face a challenging gauntlet of undead creatures. Leave somebody behind or stray too far from your friends, and it’s no coincidence that something extra terrible is gonna happen to you. The Director also manipulates details such as weather, lighting, and level layout – even the placement of walls becomes a factor.

#5: “Black and White” (2001)

Artificial intelligence and morality can be interconnected in certain games. “Black and White” is one such game, setting up the player to both manage a world's villages and train a Creature as your earthly representative. The Creature is fascinating in how it's designed; sort of like a King Kong Tamogotchi it responds to you slapping or stroking it for its actions. Thus, this Creature can be pushed to be noble or monstrous depending on how you treat it. As for the villages, similar god-like acts sway their perception of you – do you make them believe in you by performing miracles, or literally raining fire down upon them.

#4: “Half-Life series” (1998-)

Valve certainly enjoys tinkering with their non-player characters, that's for sure. Even in the original “Half-Life”, the relentless way in which Xen aliens lunged at you was matched by the ruthless quickly thinking of the human soldiers. But when “Half-Life 2” released, we were exposed to a different breed of NPC; the Combine soldiers and assorted units who know to fight strategically and without mercy. Fun fact: the Combine's gunship shooting at your guided rockets is unintentional – it simply knows how to defend itself by default.

#3: “Alien: Isolation” (2014)

Screaming definitely seems appropriate here. Being the first survival horror game by developer Creative Assembly, “Alien: Isolation” had a lot riding on the successful design of its titular foe – and we're still surprised they pulled it off so convincingly. The eponimus Alien, also known as a Xenomorph, comes into play as a nigh-unpredictable force. It stalks about doing as it pleases, silencing particularly loud people before slinking back into the darkness. And let's not get into its tendency to suddenly charge into frame.

#2: “Killzone 2” (2009)

Despite being on the defensive, the antagonistic Helghast know how to put up a fight. As the villains of the “Killzone” series, the Helghast have never been known to be slouches in combat – but it's vital to their efforts here. Every battle between them and the invading ISA is made difficult by the nature of their AI; they stick to cover well, providing suppressive fire and safety of numbers when necessary. Thankfully, the player is also graced with combat-savvy allies who know how to push forward and keep themselves alive. All the more fun for us.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Crysis” (2007)
“Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist” (2013)
“Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” (2009)
“Forza series” (2001-)

#1: “F.E.A.R” (2005)

Nothing's quite as impressive as opponents who can think on the fly, and “F.E.A.R” delivers in spades. You are the Point Man, sent into an abandoned series of locales to combat a rogue military force. Unfortunately, said military force is rather devious – and governed by one of gaming's most advanced AI setups. Enemy soldiers know to dive behind cover when firefights go awry, use alternative means of attack to reach the player, call for backup or just run away and never come back. We'll say this about them: their strategic capabilities know no bounds.

Do you agree with our list? What examples of video game AI satisfy you? For more well-constructed Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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