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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Sierra/Fox

 

Developer

Monolith

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2002

 

 

- Good level design

- Nice story

- Quality voice acting

- Good music

 

 

- Terrible controls

- Dated graphics

- Some weak sound effects

- No Quick Save option

 

 

Reviews: 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: 6.4/10

When it comes to first person shooters making their way onto a console, itís almost laughable just how few have decent controls.  All too often all the commands are packed into a controller with far too few buttons to accommodate all the things your character can do.  No One Lives Forever (NOLF) definitely suffers from this, and with the game running on a dated engine things start looking worse.  After reading Omniís praise for the PC version I had to check to make sure this was indeed NOLF that I was playing, and, alas, it was.

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The layout of the controls is what really hurts the experience in NOLF.  When moving slowly itís not too difficult to get used to, but when you need to pop out from a corner to take out a guard, then dash back to cover, bobbling the buttons is not out of the question.  Making it more difficult is that the developers try to help out the player by having the crosshairs zoom in like a magnet on the target to help combat the lack of pin point accuracy that a mouse brings.  While the intentions are good they prove highly troublesome as the crosshair catches onto either the joints in the elbows or the knees, at the torso, or at the head.  The problem is that itís never the part of the body you want to hit that gets targeted, so if you want a quick head shot expect to wind up hitting the guard in the knee, followed by him getting pissed off, shooting at you, alerting his cronies, the alarm going off, then you get wasted, 

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lather, rinse, repeat.  Itís a very frustrating string of events.  Complicating this further is that if you get killed mid way through a long mission, you still have to start from the beginning to the scene you were on when you died since there is no quick save option while in play.  Oddly, the controls are setup too so that a lot of commands are at your finger tips for a twitch FPS, but they could have been tucked into a pause menu, allowing for more fine tuning of the controls that actually move Cate around the levels.

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The other major weakness of this port is that the engine is looking very old.  The models are very harsh and boxy, the colors dull and washed out, looking every bit the cutting edge engine of 1998, but when you look at something like Halo or even TimeSplitters it becomes painfully obvious that the visuals are horribly dated.  Even a little polish would have been nice to help bring the '60s motif of NOLF a little more style.  Graphics may not be the most important thing in a game, but when they look as out of date as they do here itís very disappointing.

On the other hand the audio of the game is generally quite good.  The footfalls and other ambient sounds are believable, however the sounds of gunfire have a somewhat artificial feel to them.  The voice acting, though, is very good.  Each of the characters has a lot of, well, character, as their individual personalities come through.  Even better is that the dialogue is well written and the acting is very well done, not the usual hack job for voice work that gets put into most games.  There are some particularly humorous conversations between the guards as you prepare to make your strike, so sometimes itís better to wait an extra minute to listen in on what theyíre saying.  Music too is very well written in NOLF, handily bringing that 60s James Bond super spy flair that the game taps into.

The voice acting of the game also goes a long way to carrying the story.  The good thing about the narrative in NOLF is that it never really tries to take itself too seriously, following the sort of 60s spy movie style that by its very nature canít be taken seriously.  It all boils down to being a very refreshing change from the legions of high and mighty pseudo-intellectual plots of grandiose world conspiracy that every other publisher out there seems so intent on jamming down our throats of late.

Weapon selection is decent throughout the game with a nice mix of semi and fully automatic weapons of the period, but to add that 60s secret agent touch there are many neat little gadgets that can be used to get out of sticky situations, like lock pick barrettes that double as a small knife, lipstick explosives, special powders to dispose of corpses and so on.  Better still is that they can regularly be useful, they aren't just some gimmicks that are used once in the entire game, then relegated to some dark corner of your inventory.

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NOLFís strongest feature though is its emphasis on stealth.  This isnít the sort of game where you run into the enemy installations guns blazing, as that would sort of defeat the whole purpose of being a spy, now wouldnít it?  The vibe is far more like that of Thief or Metal Gear Solid in that you must sneak past the guards undetected, preferably without actually killing them to complete you mission, remaining wary of cameras, spotlights, and other surveillance equipment all the while.  On top of this the level design is exemplary.  The way the corridors are setup, the room placement, the debris to hide behind, it all lends itself to the gameís emphasis of subtle infiltration.

Unfortunately for all of NOLFís good points, the controls just make the game too frustrating to be worth investing any time in the title.  Playersí aggravation will be in overdrive within a few missions of starting the game, and those who make it to the end will have, in all likelihood, developed a twitch.  Throw in the dated engine, and things just get worse.  If you really want to play this game, dig up the original PC version, this port simply isnít worth the time.

- Mr. Nash

(May 14, 2002)

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