Top 6 Videogame Partnerships

The re-release of Beyond Good and Evil and the near constant partnership that pervades the game made me realize something: The presence of genuinely helpful NPC partners are a luxury that only modern gamers have been able to enjoy. To receive actual tangible help from a character who you do not directly control is something that we take for granted. It seems like only yesterday I was treating my television to a fury of profanities and insults as Slippy jumped onto the communication channel to yet again provide absolutely no support whatsoever.

The presence of AI-controlled partners in games is something that was not included in games of old, simply because there was no way to create a helpful character with the limited amount of memory space. This list attempts to gather a broad sampling of some computer-controlled characters that are NOT a burden to have around. These are the best partners that constantly have your back both literally and metaphorically. They’re not radioing in help from an underground bunker or showing up when it’s convenient for them; they’re always there in the thick of the combat (or puzzle-solving), and you are always grateful… unless they’re blocking a doorway.

6) Every generic shooter character and their generic shooter partner

If you are playing a game, and you are shooting at people or aliens or people-aliens, then there is a 90% chance that there is a computer-controlled character standing fairly close to you shooting in the same direction. Much like online multiplayer is a required bullet on the back of the shooter box, so too are AI-controlled partners. That’s okay though, because fighting with a friend is more fun than fighting alone. The fact that most of them are pretty darn smart certainly doesn’t hurt your feelings about them either.

5) Jade, Pey’j and Double H

Beyond Good and Evil HD is a great port of an underplayed game and it has two partners who are legitimately helpful 99.9% of the time. That .1% corresponds to the rare instance where they won’t get in the damn hovercraft, but they are just being stubborn. Either that, or they are not quite ready to go.

Regardless of who you are with, they will help you solve puzzles, fight, or even fling themselves full speed and headfirst into steel bars, just so you can take a picture of a fly with a rhino horn. They really have no regard for themselves, and that is the best trait of a partner in a video game.

4) Triptaka and Monkey

Technically, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a long escort mission with the player controlling the marsupial antics of Monkey, but Trip is anything but a burden. She stays out of the way when she needs to stay hidden, and when she does get caught, she sends out an EMP blast that is incredibly helpful. That, and when you tell her to do something (even though you are the slave), she listens and abides. She’s also pretty good at computers and stuff.

3) Gordon and Alyx

There is a bit of a conceit here because yes, Gordon and Alyx could fit in the “generic shooter,” category above. Half-Life 2 is a shooter, and Alyx helps you shoot at things, but they don’t really belong up there at number six and you know it!

Alyx was among the first AI-controlled partners that was helpful and absolutely pleasant to have around. She doesn’t repeat herself, she doesn’t block exits, she doesn’t get in your line of fire (much) and she’s nimble as hell. Gordon would have never gotten out of the attic in the beginning of Half-Life 2 if it wasn’t for Alyx. He would have just died there, and Half-Life 2 would have been the most bizarrely disappointing game in the history of video games.

2) The Prince and Elika

In the 2008 release of Prince of Persia, it wasn’t so much that the player controlled The Prince with Elika providing AI back-up, as much as it was the player controlling both characters simultaneously — sort of.

When it came to directly moving around on a flat surface, yes, the player controlled The Prince. Once your feet left the ground or combat began, though, Elika was instrumental in traversal, fighting, and general death avoidance. She always helped you make your way, without getting in the way. She also provided excellent banter. The game never felt more lonely than when she decided to give you the silent treatment at the beginning of the Epilogue DLC.

1) Agro and Wander

Agro may lack the witty banter of Elika, the climbing skills of Alyx, the Strength of Double H, the computer skills of Triptaka, and a cache of guns, but that horse would literally do anything for you, and comes any time you call. He patiently waits for you if you leave him behind, but is ready to become part of the fight at the drop of a hat if needed. If that’s not enough, he is a central part one of the most touching videogame moments ever. The re-release of Shadow of the Colossus is only a few months away, and I would hate to ruin it for you if you kept the narrative from yourself this long. Agro is the ultimate partner. There is a reason I named my beloved cat after him.


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Author: Kyle Hilliard View all posts by

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