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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Sierra / Vivendi

 

Developer

Monolith

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

November 2003

 

 

- Straight-up action in the NOLF universe

- A few good laughs

- Storyline fits between the two Kate Archer adventures

 

 

- Vehicles are nice, but hard to control making for some frustration

- Repetitive

- Not as many laughs to be found

 

 

Review: No One Lives Forever (PC)

Review: No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in HARM's Way (PC)

Review: No One Lives Forever (PS2)

Review: Serious Sam (PC)

 

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Contract J.A.C.K.

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

Contract J.A.C.K. (CJ) is in most respects the polar opposite of the stealthy hi-jinks of Cate Archer in the two No One Lives Forever (NOLF) games.  Whereas Cate would quietly melt through locks with her mini-welder, the main character of CJ, John Jack, has no such option – all locks get blown off with a well-placed bullet.  CJ is a twenty-pound sledgehammer of wall-to-wall action.

 

contract jack pc review          contract jack pc review

 

In events that happen between Kate Archer’s adventures, you play as John, recruited by H.A.R.M. to combat a competing terrorist organization.  The rest of the story is slowly revealed across the 7 levels (including the Moon) and does a good job integrating itself into the NOLF timeline.  But the story is merely window dressing for the action and some amusing monologues.

 

The humor sets CJ apart from most first-person shooters.  I’d hate to spoil anything but one of the best lines is from a mad scientist lamenting the fact he didn’t create some killer robots.  In context, it actually had me laughing out loud.  Mission objectives aside, it was the search for this humor that actually got me interested in progressing from one level to the next, because after a while, the action – although intense and challenging – spirals to repetitiveness. (And unfortunately for me, the humor isn't found in abundance.)

 

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The enemy AI is very aggressive (or stupid depending on your view).  85% of the time they’ll rush toward you, the remaining 15% they'll duck behind walls or whatever cover they can find or try to flank you, which can make for some good firefights.  (Emphasize, "can.")  In each environment you’ll face-off against wave after wave of enemies, almost without exception in groups of four.  Drop them with John’s impressive arsenal, including shotguns and machine guns, then 

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move to the next group of four enemies.  Repeat as necessary.  The environments do help mix things up, especially levels that combine confined and open spaces (particularly in conjunction with a vehicle), but you won’t see the radically different approaches required – using the shadows, hiding bodies, etc. – with the NOLF games.  (Stealth?  What’s that?)

 

contract jack pc review          contract jack pc review

 

Graphically, CJ doesn’t leap far from what was found in the two NOLF games.  CJ doesn’t seem as splashy as the NOLF games, maybe for the simple reason that you’re playing as a bad guy, without the full support of Santa’s Workshop.  There’s still that feel-good ‘60s vibe (as slight as it is as you gun down bad guys) but CJ doesn’t try to step outside the box in terms of presentation.

 

If you’re a first-person shooter fan, Contract J.A.C.K. is an okay purchase – you’ll get your $20US worth but it's certainly no NOLF game that we're used to.  It builds on the No One Lives Forever timeline, but lets you go at it in an entirely different way.

 

- Omni

(December 17, 2003)

 

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