Gamings worst AI companions

Artificial Unintelligence

AI companions tend to come in a couple different flavors. There’s the true companions, versatile and interesting characters who really add something to the experience, like Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite or Alyx from Half-Life 2. Next are the harmless annoyances, who aren’t great to have around but don’t get in the way–Ashley Graham has the good sense to keep her head down, and Navi has some alright advice here and there. And then there are the AI companions who actively make the game worse by existing. From charging headfirst into enemy bullets to using up your precious resources while you shriek in rage, they seem deadset on making EVERY level the “hell level.”

In (dis)honor of these hated, virtual hanger-ons, I’ve compiled a list of the worst AI companions gaming has to offer. Hoarders, pesterers, jerkfaces and straight-up dead weight–they’re all here, and they’re going to do their best to ruin your fun. It’s time for some naming and shaming!

Sheva (Resident Evil 5)

The thing about going into battle with someone is that you need to trust them. “With your life” is a pretty good benchmark, since your partner will hopefully be stopping bullets and knives from trying to occupy the same space as your internal organs. That’s why so many players hate Sheva, Chris Redfield’s partner in Resident Evil 5: she can’t be trusted. She consumes all your shared ammo and health items like its penny candy, and when you’re on your last legs and need her most, she has a penchant for standing around and letting nature run its course. She may not be a bad character per say, but it’s kind of hard to remember that when she’s watching you die like an unfeeling robot.

Tails (Sonic 2)

Bless Tails; he really does try. He just sucks so bad that failure is his only option, and he simply can’t keep up with Sonic “Gotta Go Fast” the Hedgehog. Sometimes that’s literal, like when he’s so slow on special stages that he regularly runs into bombs and ruins everything. Other times he’s just flat-out dense, like when he collapses platforms before Sonic can even touch them or runs straight into very obvious spikes. You want to give him a little credit, because he will nab a ring or two for you. But then he’ll promptly lose them doing something stupid, or drag you down when you try to help him, and you’ll suddenly wish Sonic would aim his fist bumps a little higher.

Duck Hunt Dog (Duck Hunt)

With man’s-best-friends like these, who needs enemies? Not Duck Hunt, where your only real enemy in the struggle for duck dominance is your son-of-a-bitch hunting dog. Rather than focusing on your victories like any good dog should, the Duck Hunt Dog spends more time ridiculing you for your failures. The mockery never ends. Every time one of the slippery fowl gets away from you, the Dog is there to undercut your self-esteem until you just can’t take it ANYMORE!!! You can’t shoot him either, to the disappointment of frustrated players everywhere. However, he is set to appear in the upcoming Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, so revenge might finally be ours.

Roman (Grand Theft Auto 4)

Niko Bellic deals with some unpleasant things in GTA IV, brawling with vicious gang members and dealing with the popo after accidentally mowing down a group of tourists. But few things in Liberty City make your stomach drop like getting a phone call and hearing “HEEEEEY COOOOOOOOOUSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN” blasting down the line. After the fifteenth time cousin Roman ask you to join him in an annoying bowling minigame, you start running people over out of rage instead of just for fun. It would almost be bearable, if that was the worst family failure you had to deal with. But when you have to kick the crap out of a bunch of guys to clean up your cousin’s mess? And then he calls you for the sixteenth time? Bowling balls aren’t all that’s gonna roll!

Survivors (Dead Rising)

I get that the zombie apocalypse can be stressful, especially when you find yourself locked in a shopping mall with a horde of the undead, packs of psychopaths, and no Orange Julius stands in sight. But as completely idiotic, frustrating, and useless as the survivors in Dead Rising can be, it looks like the zombies arent the only ones in want of brains. Most of your human cohorts are unbelievably slow, lagging behind you even when you’re carrying an injured party on you back. They’re virtually incapable of defending themselves even with a weapon, and have a nasty habit of walking into the thick of a zombie pack and expecting you to get them out. Sure, you can leave particularly infuriating survivors behind, but that hurts your overall score, and the one you left for dead could be replaced by someone equally useless!

Survivors, again (Left 4 Dead)

Speaking of left for dead–sorry, Left 4 Dead–those survivors don’t come out looking so good either when a fellow player isn’t controlling them. CPU versions of the zombie-blasting friends do their best to emulate human behavior, like a robot trying to calculate the square root of love, and do seem to get it right some of the time. But they’ll just as soon stare at you Sheva-like as you die, play lemming and leap off balconies, or get comfy in a toasty patch of fire. Forget any time you need to lay low and not draw attention–the AI knows that proper way to combat the horde is to run in with guns blazing. Oh, and never forget to walk directly up to a witch. Come on, they just need some love.

Superfly Johnson and Mikiko (Daikatana)

Granted, Daikatana itself is notoriously awful, and it’s AI characters could hardly escape the crapshoot. Still, Superfly Johnson (yes, that’s his actual name) and Mikiko go above and beyond, combining their powers to make this game as bad as it could possibly be. These two hit all the terrible AI touchstones: running directly into any stream of bullets you let loose, getting stuck on doors, and happily putting themselves in lethal situations where their deaths spell Game Over for you. They even spice it up a bit by being blithely hostile, occasionally shooting you in the midst of a firefight instead of getting shot themselves. Did I mention friendly fire is on? When Mikiko double-crosses you and steals the Sword-of-Ultimate-Power-or-Whatever at the end (I’d warn for spoilers, but who cares?), you almost start to wonder if these two were actually brilliant enemy combatants. But, no–they’re just that stupid.

Your comrades (Gears of War)

The characters in Gears of War are men and women of extremes. I don’t mean those times when they go mano-a-monster with the demonesque Locusts, but the part where they’re either really bad or way too good at it. In the first Gears game, your brothers in (h)arms spent a lot of time doing lethally stupid things, like meleeing a megaboss or standing on top of a campfire. Dom in particular is known for putting himself in deadly situations that are too dumb to comprehend. The developers saw the problem here and adjusted for Gears of War 3, by which I mean the game basically plays itself. Yes, replace my clunker van with a rocket I can’t ride. That’s so much better.

Natalya (GoldenEye 007)

Yes, Natalya, I know we have to go to the main control room. Now if you could do that without walking in front of all of my bullets, marching directly into enemy fire, or getting stuck on the goddamn door of the goddamn main control room, I would REALLY. FREAKING. APPRECIATE IT!!! The most frustrating part of an otherwise great game, Natalya is the epitome of rage-inducing escort bots. Progressing requires that you anticipate her slow, clunky movements and keep her from walking into the business end of a rifle like she thinks it’s shooting money and free ice cream. I’m pretty sure she leads a double life as a target dummy, which explains why she has such crap dexterity that she gets stuck on a doorframe.


Even years after they first drove us into a frothing rage we haven’t forgotten these AI idiots, and I’m sure most of us would rather hang out with anyone else over them. A rabid wolverine, perhaps. What do you think? Does the memory of these horrible partners make you want to tear your hair out? Did we miss an odious offender? Tell us in the comments below, and share in our hate-pain. Hain. Yes.

Want more rage against hapless “helpers”? Check out the Top 7 video game sidekicks we hated. Would you rather sooth your wrathful heart? Check out 10 sidekicks that deserve their own game, because they’re not all useless.

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