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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Sierra / Fox Interactive

 

Developer

Monolith

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

- Great graphics

- The best music this year

- Funny dialogue

- More spy work than "blowing things up real good!"

- More than one way to complete mission objectives

- Lots of different weapons and equipment

- Good control

- Austin Powers mixed with James Bond

- AI is intelligent enough to take cover and call in reinforcements

- Some branching, in-game options

- Nifty multiplayer games

- In-between mission gadget training is useful

- Bonus music CD

- Fun, fun, fun!

 

 

- Some strange bugs

- Applying the patch erased my save games

- Some of the later missions are incredibly difficult

 

 

Review: Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (XBox)

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Playstation 2)

Review: NOLF 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way (PC)

 

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No One Lives Forever

Score: 9.5 / 10

The last superspy game that I thoroughly enjoyed was Goldeneye for the N64. There was tons of action but there were also missions in which stealth, moving around undetected, was essential. There were security cameras to watch out for, patrolling guards to eliminate silently and intelligence items to gather all in the pursuit of the mission’s goal. No One Lives Forever (NOLF) takes what Goldeneye did so well and improves it immensely, with the added bonus of setting it in the swinging ‘60s.

 

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You assume the role of Cate Archer, a new member of UNITY – one of those super secret agencies that help squash terrorist organizations without alarming the population at large – who gets called into active service after a number of agents are murdered. As the game progresses a sinister plot unfolds and it’s up to Cate to save the world from the terrorist organization, HARM.

 

Everything about NOLF oozes style – the ‘60s style of Austin Powers. Cate’s outfits are bright and colourful, which is not exactly how a super spy should dress but it’s consistent with NOLF’s time frame. It’s also an indication of the sensibility that runs through the game.

 

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The LithTech engine does an excellent job bringing the world of NOLF to life. Environments are detailed like real world locations – office complexes have book shelves filled with files, phones on the desk, plants for esthetics – and the textures look textured! From a distance, walls look flat but up close there are pockmarks and flaws that make it seem real. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor missions and everything moves at a good clip. Each level is self-contained – once a 

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level is loaded there is no waiting for other sections to load up – which is a good way to maintain the pace of each level. Levels range from a small office complex to a space station, but whatever the setting, each looks realistic. Characters look good too, but most are over the top renditions.

Speaking of characters, there are a lot of them and they all have something to say – mostly funny exchanges between themselves. As you approach corners you’ll often hear two technicians or guards talking about their lives or the latest HARM policies. The dialogue is funny and a good way to break some of the tension – but step out from cover and they will notice you, shout for reinforcements or slap an alarm button. And if you leave bodies in your wake, patrolling guards will kneel over their fallen comrades saying, "Hey, wake up. Oh no, he’s DEAD!" There are a lot of cutscenes to contend with but they are a good way to unwind after a particularly tense mission. Some of the cutscenes are long, filled with lots of background information and dialogue but if you skip them you’ll miss some of the fun. Nowhere is this more evident when a HARM hand puppet makes ransom demands. (This seems to be a nod to the Human Ton and Handy from The Tick television series.) The cutscenes do an excellent job of progressing the plot and they set up each mission very well.

There are 15 missions to sneak or blast through. Some of the levels require absolute stealth, which is a plus/minus. On the plus side, you must develop a strategy, actually think about what you’re doing, or your mission will end in short order. For example, one mission requires you to gain access to a hidden sanctum located in an office. There are security cameras all over the place and a few guards patrolling the halls. Use your gun and the alarms start going and it’s mission over. Let a camera zoom in on you or let an office worker see you with your gun drawn and your cover will be blown. You have to maintain a delicate balance between moving quickly and maintaining cover. Moving quickly will give away your position to guards, since they can hear your footfalls. To get through some of the levels all your cunning and inventory must be put to use.

Thankfully, Cate’s arsenal and inventory are packed with useful gadgets. There are real world guns including the AK-47 and .38 revolver. What really shines are the gadgets. Santa’s Workshop (equivalent to James Bond’s Q branch) cooks up a variety of interesting tools. Among them: a pheromone spewing mechanical poodle, a lock pick that doubles as a barrette and poison tipped needle, Corpse-be-Gone powder, exploding lipstick, and a belt buckle that is also zip line. Some of the items have alternate functions – the lighter can be used as a mini-welder. To successfully navigate some of the missions you must use the gadgets. Shooting a lock off will alert the guards but using the lock-pick will gain you silent entry. Of course, if you like to run-and-gun, you can do that too. Be warned: your accuracy decreases the faster you’re moving. Standing still allows for precise shooting but it also makes you a pretty target for HARM’s minions to plug holes through.

Enemy AI is some of the best found in a FPS. Enemies take cover, sometimes knocking over tables and ducking behind them. They’ll lean out from doorways and squeeze off a few shots before taking cover again. And they’ll even run away. Mostly they will stand their ground and make a commotion, attracting others to lay down more fire.

Mission objectives are varied. Some are simply, "Get out alive," while others have multiple goals that need to be fulfilled for a successful mission. For example, some missions require that you photograph dossiers or specific ship containers.

And there are multiple ways to gain entry to some locations. If one location is heavily guarded it’s a safe bet that there’s a window somewhere that can be forced open.

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With all the great aspects of NOLF there are also a few blemishes. Sometimes alarms will go off for no reason. This happened a number of times when loading up a level. When it happened, reloading the mission usually fixed the problem. There were a few unexplained crashes. Things just locked up but the music kept going. For some reason multiplayer didn’t work the first three times I booted it up, but on the fourth, and ever since, it has worked. Another thing the annoyed me to no end was that applying the patch erased all my saved games. Something else about save games – there are a limited number of slots. Even Sierra has abandoned this feature. Later on, the missions get extremely difficult, requiring very specific goals to be met, sometimes in a specific order, with guards and security cameras coming at you from every angle. Not since Half-life have I had to use quickload so many times.

Quibbles aside, No One Lives Forever is a great game, well worth the money. The combination of style, wit, creativity, spycraft, cool locations, great gadgets and the overall sense of fun make this one a must have for FPS fans and a recommended game for casual gamers.

- Omni

 

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