AI and Control
Artificial courage (and cowardice)
Much of the demonstration we got from Ubi involved discussion of the character AI, which they believe separates Raven Shield out from the increasingly crowded genre of realistic shooters. Ubi was quick to point out that the terrorists (and hostages) in Raven Shield will act in unpredictable and varying manners depending on their own predispositions, and changing situations in the game which will affect their fear sense. Bust into a room, guns blazing, and some terrorists will run right at you with their own weapons firing. Some will cower, throw down their guns and surrender. Others still will try to escape from the confrontation, hide in another area and snipe. Kill enough of a tough guy's comrades around him and he may change his mind about making a last stand and surrender instead. The point is that missions will play out differently every time.
The improved AI extends to your teammates. As you move forward and lead a team, the men bringing up the rear flank will periodically scan around behind you. This animation is not just cosmetic. Whatever your teammates are facing is all they can really see. The AI does not detect everything in a specific radius around them - their sight detection is limited to the field in front of their eyes as they scan about. This is a great improvement from previous games like Rogue Spear where threats coming up from the rear were a big problem. Your AI teammates are much better at intelligently moving forward and creeping around with you and will also approach blind corners more carefully than before, stacking along the wall to minimize their exposure around the corner before it is checked out.
Also new to Raven Shield is the ability to peek around corners only a little bit. Hold down CTRL and mouse over to the left and you can peek a little bit or a lot - while most games' peeking function is binary (you're peeking or you're not), you have analog control in Raven Shield. You can even use it to peek in the up direction over the top of low walls or into windows as you are crouching, another new feature. Think that isn't enough? You can also open doors a crack at a time. Click to open a door and you'll be able to use your mouse wheel to slowly pry the door open, and swing the door back and forth. See a terrorist through the crack in the door? Pop him in the head and then shut the door again.
Though teammate AI has improved a lot, there are still instances where it's better to take more control over your comrades. In order to do this, Ubi has included a context sensitive order menu that is activated with the space bar. Lead your team up to a door and hitting the spacebar will pop up a menu of options - Open, Open/Grenade, Open/Grenade/Clear, and Open/Clear. Your team will intelligently stack or flank around the door and follow your order. Did you choose Open and Grenade? One man will open the door and another will toss a grenade in. Open, Grenade, and Clear will have your men charging in the room after the grenade goes off. This menu system of control is similar to what Sierra offered in SWAT 3, and makes a welcome appearance now in Raven Shield.
Open it a crack
The zulu code is another improvement that lets you as team leader, coordinate an on-the-fly change to the mission if something didn't quite go off as planned. Recall that in Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear, before the mission you would draw up a specific plan of attack to coordinate your team of commandos. You'd initiate certain parts of the plan by yelling out ALPHA or BETA so each of your fire teams would do certain things at the same time, like having one team throw in a flashbang through one window while another team would follow by storming in the door on the other side of the room. In previous games, these types of coordinated actions were only possible to plan through the pre mission interface. But if the hostages were not in the room you first anticipated then you had no ability to coordinate a two or three pronged attack in a different room. The Zulu code and the context sensitive team control menus let you coordinate such an attack within the mission itself.
To do this you use the spacebar command menu to open up the context sensitive team commands. But instead of clicking on one of the options for them to do it right away, you can right click which tells them to "go on Zulu." Do this for each of your fire teams and when you call the Zulu code, the various teams will execute everything at the time you ask them to.