No One Lives Forever Review
publisher: Fox Interactive
PII-300, 64MB RAM, 3D accelerator 8MB
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 09, 00
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What do you get when you mix a 300lbs German woman who likes to sing Wagner, Russian mobster who has a thing for lilies, boozed up Scotsmen and a beautiful secret agent - once a cat-burglar named Cate Archer? Yeah, er, noo... you don't get another Monty Python show, although the ingredients are just perfect. What you get is one of the best shooters I have had the pleasure of loading up on my PC since the days of the legendary Half Life.
What you get is a game that crawls an inch closer to every FPS programmer's dream, and that's to make a full blown interactive movie, which is supposed to finally transcend the usual FPS, RTS, RPG labels and earn its right to be classified as a wacky spy movie comedy type of a thingy. Yeah, that and that other dream where you're laying in the bathtub filled with hot melted chocolate and those two teenage girls... Er, forget about it, I'm daydreaming again. Anyways, No One Lives Forever is just that (no, the other thing)! It's a mix of the good-old Bond Movies, Charlie's Angels, Simon Templar, and all the other wacky 60s-70s spy memorabilia you can think of, spiced up with some sharp new-age humor and Austinesque dialogues. BTW, I've read a lot of reviews of this game so far, and I see a lot of people shying away from comparing NOLF to Austin Powers. Well, call me a spaced out goat herder on steroids or something, but I've found that NOLF definitely carries a breath of that Mike Myers' wackiness, which is a good thing in my book. For the first time in God knows how long, a game gets most of the things right. It's like our industry is finally starting to get mature. Games like NOLF and HL are definitely setting new standards and pushing that game designing bar a notch higher. I think many developers are scratching their heads right now and thinking - oh boy... At least those that are looking to make a kick ass single player FPS, or an interactive movie as I'm going to refer to these games from now on. NOLF is the first title in ages (all right, the first after The Curse of Monkey Island) to truly make me laugh. It exploits every type of stereotype or a clich' you can think of when it comes to foreigners and English accents, and it does it in a classy, offbeat kinda way. Hey, how can you beat a game that crams a bunch of Arnold Schwartzennegers, Arab salesmen, Russian sailors, and boozed up Scots, and mixes it all up into this cocktail of foreign cultures flamb'ed with some archetypal US humor. It's like Saturday Night Live with the two guys that are not "GIRLY MEN" all over again. Hell, the most important thing of all is that it's fun, captivating, and it made me laugh. It made me postpone the writing of this review 'cause I wanted to look at Cate Archer some more, and it made me embark on a 24h net surfing extravaganza trying to find a single shred of 'Nude Archer Wallpaper' or 'Nude Archer Patch' info... (In case you're wondering, Yes, I'm THAT pathetic dammit!)
NOLF merges every attribute of FPS games, and then adds plenty of original content and quality. The gameplay represents a sort of a mix of Thief and your classic FPS with some rather non-linear twists of the plot and even a few non-linear approaches to puzzle solving. As you might've expected, the arsenal consists of popular spy weapons like the Colt .38, and the trusted Shepard's Arms P38. There's also the faithful AK-47 (a true terrorist's whore weapon), and a number of other weapons, which I haven't used much, as I preferred sticking to the aforementioned whore weapon, or the SA P38 with a silencer for stealth. And as is the case with any good 60s spy movie, Cate Archer is equipped with all sorts of handy-dandy gadgets, like the miniature welder-lighter, a zip cord belt buckle, pheromones releasing mechanical poodle (dogs fall in love, instantly), code cracker and a host of other spy toys that you'll come to use excessively during the missions. There's no point in naming all the tools of the trade, as I'm sure you've read all about them in some preview somewhere, so let's just stick to the juicy bits. NOLF's appeal is not confided to the usual game design dynamics, level design, and the likes. I tell ya, I haven't noticed any of those things while I was playing the game. NOLF is an interactive movie experience, which sucks you into its world and makes you forget your real life duties. It's easy when you have to review crappy games. You can concentrate on all the crap that you get pounded with, which all leads to a 'done review' even before you double-click the WORD icon. I've been enjoying NOLF so much, I forgot I had to take notes and stop for a while to examine some of the game's fundamental aspects. Instead, I just let it go, and enjoyed the hell out of this one. I can't stress enough the importance of an involving plot, colorful characters, and witty dialogue. That is what truly separates a hit from the rest of the bunch. Not only does NOLF feature some action-packed smooth gameplay, it also employs some neat movie directing tricks --- camera placement and the usage of music that are far and beyond anything ever done in this industry of ours (Half Life included). I have to say it again and I guess this is the crucial point I'm trying to make in this review - NOLF is an interactive PC movie! It is the first one of its kind to go beyond the pathetic B-Movie voice acting and humor, and actually portray a story in a more mature, and intricate way that should appeal to a much wider audience of gamers. I never considered myself a spy movies fan, and I don't consider myself one now, but I sure as hell am a fan of NOLF and Ms. Archer. Rarely is a "strong female" character depicted with so much charm, wit, and personality. Tomb Raider phenomenon was based on a girl that didn't speak a word, and our power to imagine her sparkling personality. Well, there's no need for that in NOLF. Ms. Archer is as real as a computer character can get, and she's the embodiment of a strong woman with style, finesse, and just enough balls to open up a can of whoopass when it matters (yeah, don't be such cynics... I used "balls" figuratively).
Setting new standards in game design. Characters, story, voice acting, AI...
LithTech 2.5 isn't as impressive as I have expected it to be. LEGO-like car models. Some crappy furniture as well.