Have developers found the ultimate videogame foe?

Gamers have been punching, swinging swords at, casting spells on, shooting, driving lawnmowers over, dropping bombs on, burning and nuking a variety of enemies through the ages, having a bucket-load of fun in the process. It doesn't matter if videogame enemies are lovable or loathsome, smart or incredibly stupid, Nazis, zombies or Call of Duty World at War's lethal combination of both (cleverly named Nazi-zombies); gamers will do their worst to whatever is charging at them (or standing still in a corner for that matter) with the slightest exhibition of hostility. Hell, they'll even launch an aerial strike on walking mushrooms. And while it's not unusual for some enemies to be more fun to dispatch in creative ways than others, you simply have to ask ‘What makes the perfect video game enemy?' Perhaps a look at the usual suspects (and some unusual ones) will reveal the answer.

Since the dawn of science fiction, space-faring protagonists have been given a pretty hard time by aliens, and it wasn't surprising that aliens were some of the first ever bad guys in video games. Gamers have been ridding the universe of them since Taito's original Space Invaders and continue to do so in games such as Halo: Reach, Starcraft II and Mass Effect 2. Aliens are always competent enemies because there are no fixed standards for their size or abilities, and developers have taken advantage of this. Aliens also make good enemies because they (most often) don't speak English, often resorting to deafening roars and/or shrieks instead, making them easy to hate. Human military enemies are hugely popular as well, ranging from terrorists, ultra-nationalists, nationalists to Grand Theft Auto's beloved gangsters, prostitutes and civilians. Including Nazis in this category would be a little harsh on both parties, since there's a whole genre (World War II shooters) dedicated to the mass murder (ironic, isn't it?) of that enemy type. Game developers often use terms such as ‘advanced AI' and ‘dynamic difficulty scaling' when talking about the human enemies they have created, and that pretty much sums up human enemies: they're artificially intelligent. Supernatural, mythological and fantasy enemies are abundant in RPGs and MMOs, shooters, action/adventure and strategy games. ‘Boss' battles against enemies from fantasy video games are epic in nature, at times requiring hours of gameplay to get through, and more importantly, there is a substantial amount of satisfaction derived from dispatching enemies that are sometimes 500 times larger than the player's character — ask anyone who has played God of War III. But none of these enemy types compares to... zombies. Zombies feature in every genre of video game possible in one form or the other. They're dynamic (slow in Resident Evil, blazingly fast in Left 4 Dead), they're already dead (which is a bonus) they don't waste your time talking trash, and there never seems to be a shortage of them in video games — they're a never-ending supply of machine gun fodder, and that's what makes them brilliant.

(Courtesy: Blur)


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Keywords: videogame


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