The Last of Us – Dealing With A.I.

Now that the major media outlets out there have started releasing their reviews, and we just did the same, it’s clear this is an amazing game. One of the very impressive features, and also one of the most complex, is the game’s AI system. Today’s feature looks at exactly what works and what doesn’t quite work with the AI.

First let’s talk about the great. The way Ellie and other characters interact with their surroundings is extremely impressive. One time Joel may be pinned down behind a counter when Ellie will start shooting bottles to try and distract the guys away from Joel. If there are a lot of bottles and bricks lying around, you can count on your partner to make very good use of them.  It’s interesting but if the AI feels it’s not safe, Ellie will sit by and do nothing to assist.  The most impressive aspect is how the AI evolves over time.  Ellie becomes smarter as she eases into the role of Joel’s back-up.  It’s during these times when players can actually count on the AI to assist in their time of need.

The AI isn’t perfect though. There are issues where your AI characters don’t have to follow the same rules you do. Not only for combat, whereby they can shoot at enemies like crazy without the new to reload, but also with the Infected. Typically if a Clicker is near, you have to be extremely quiet, but your partner doesn’t. They can even run by them, and yet they don’t get discovered. Occasionally you’ll take down a Runner very close to another one, or to a Clicker, only to have everyone ignore you. That doesn’t happen very often though.

For the most part the AI is extremely smart in combat, but as I mentioned in the review, and via my YouTube commentary videos, it’s possible to gather Infected together and lure them to your partner and have them shoot the Infected for you. This cheats the system because you can defeat them without using your ammo. If you try this with larger groups though, your partner will be overpowered and die.

In the greater context of the game, I didn’t find the issues to be too problematic, but they do take some getting used to. As I’ve mentioned before, the story and setting are so absolutely outstanding that issues become almost invisible thanks to everything else the game does so spectacularly well. That said, it would be ideal to have some of these issues addressed in the inevitable follow-up.

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