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No One Lives Forever

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Fox Interactive/Sierra
Developer: Monolith
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 16
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action


Graphics & Sound:

Mmm. The Lithtech engine has definitely grown up, and No One Lives Forever looks very, very sweet. The character models are detailed and realistic, and the facial movements are really nice to see. It doesn't hurt that they're generally synched to the speech, too. When you see an enemy roll along the ground to get out of your range of fire, or do a classic fall-over-the-rail when you shoot a bad guy, you'll know the level of detail that was put into the game. The environments are similar -- well-detailed, with lots of "fluff" that does nothing but add texture to the game. From Morocco to the home base to space, the game feels like a real environment, instead of a video-game lair. The cutscenes do nothing but add to the movie-feel of the game, pulling you into the world and environments more than ever.

And complementing the fine graphics is a load of fine voice-acting. Every character from Cate to the Chief to the evil agents of HARM sounds exactly as they should, and it does a world of good for a cinematic-style game. If you creep around the game, instead of simply blasting every bad guy you see, you can hear all sorts of funny conversations between characters. It makes for that much more engrossing of an experience. The music is solid too, both fitting the period (60's action movie) and the feel of the game. It pumps when it needs to, and tones itself down when stealth and silence are in order.


Gameplay:

Thankfully, to go along with the solid graphics and lovely sound, No One Lives Forever presents us with an unforgettable game experience. You're Cate Archer, The Operative, out to save the world from the bad guys of HARM, and you're out to do it with style. The whole thing plays like an old Bond film, and it's done fantastically well -- from the pointless intro to the witty banter to the action scenes.

Every "episode" is divided into scenes, and each scene generally has you doing something different. For example, in the first major scene of the game, you must pick off snipers before they kill an ambassador. Then you have to get to the lobby of a hotel, disarm some explosives, and finally escape with your life. The game continues to throw curveballs at you throughout its length, and although I'd love to tell you some of the adventures you'll experience (think: Bond homage), half of the fun is getting there yourself.

Most of the game plays as something of a cross between the plot-based Half-Life, and the stealth-based Thief: The Dark Project. You can choose to go in with guns in hand and death on your mind, but you're rewarded with more "atmosphere," higher ranks, and more intelligence items if you play it smart instead. The game certainly allows both ways, however, and sometimes it's fun to try an area each way and decide which one you like the most. Being a die-hard Thief fan, I found skulking about to be the most entertaining way to play, but your results may vary.

To complement however way you play the game, NOLF provides you with scads of nifty gadgets to play with, and they all fit within the motif. You've got glasses that double as binocs and a camera, you've got a barrette that can be used as a lockpick or a poisoned needle, and you've got lipstick that's an explosive. What more can you ask for? This sort of tight design only helps a game -- developers take note.

There are quite a few different weapons in the game, and they can be configured quite nicely. You can put scopes on them, change the sorts of ammo you use, and in general have a good time playing with all the combinations. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses, and by the end of the game, you'll know them all.

If the (superb) single player campaign isn't enough, NOLF sports multiplayer capabilities as well. It's nothing particularly amazing, however -- you've got standard deathmatch and a game rather like Capture the Flag, only more spy-based, and neither of them really offer anything new to multiplayer. The main part of the game is for one player only, though, and the NOLF doesn't skimp on that most important item.


Difficulty:

The first few missions are quite easy, but the game soon gets plenty difficult. You can also choose your difficulty when you start a new campaign, which is quite nice. It never gets impossible, though, and a good sneak can get through much without ever having to use a gun. Remember to search everywhere thoroughly, as the last thing you need is some thug you didn't know about running up behind you and shooting you just as you were trying to get past a real nasty baddie.

Game Mechanics:

The game's controls are spot-on, although using the left Shift for switching weapons instead of toggling threw me off for a bit. (Yes, I've been playing Quake for way, way too long.) It's all massively configurable, of course, but most of the defaults are absolutely perfect as they are. The game itself has excellent mechanics, knowing the difference between a head shot and a chest shot, and making the different types of ammo actually matter. Good stuff. The menus are easy to navigate, and have the same stylings as the rest of the game -- an important touch that's often forgotten with games.

No One Lives Forever is a great game. It's both a homage and a light parody of the whole spy genre, especially the Bond movies, and you can tell that it's a labor of love. While it may not be the deepest game ever made, and doesn't quite get to the level of, say, Thief, that doesn't keep NOLF from being the finest shooter released in recent history. If you've played Deus Ex through and need another good-plot, good-action title, or you're simply a fan of the genre, you need to get No One Lives Forever... now.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Win9x/2K/Me, P2 300, 64MB RAM, 400MB HD space, 4x CD-ROM, 8MB 3D accelerator, 16-bit sound card, mouse, keyboard
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6x/24x DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/ 32 MB RAM

Sega Dreamcast Gundam Side Story 0079 Sega Dreamcast Dynamite Cop!

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated