Game Review - by James Allen
If there was only a way to combine the campy humor of Austin Powers and the action of Half-Life. Lo and behold, here is No One Lives Forever! Not the title of a lost James Bond flick, Monolith brings us a 60's spy first person shooter. At first glance, it may look as though this might be a poor game that looks to capitalize off the successes of the aforementioned movies. Fortunately for everyone involved, No One Lives Forever is not only a good FPS, but also a grand adventure through its land of spydom.
In No One Lives Forever, you assume the role of Cate Archer, once a thief, now the first female operative for UNITY (the good guys) fighting H.A.R.M. (the bad guys). Since she is the first female member of the squad, the male administration makes light of her skills, and believes that she can't possibly match the abilities of her male teammates. They couldn't be more wrong. Used as a "last resort" in several missions, Cate is equipped with an impressive arsenal of weapons and gadgets (no Gadget Copter, however). Weapons include a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver, a sub-machine gun, an assault rifle, a grenade launcher, and a sniper rifle. Each weapon is appropriate for a different situation, and knowing which firearm to switch to is paramount in successfully completing your missions. Taking a note from James Bond, Cate has access to several interesting and deadly contraptions, including sunglasses that can take pictures and detect mines, a camera disabler, a code breaker, a run-of-the-mill coin to distract unsuspecting adversaries, and some more cool stuff. And you can even equip yourself with bunny slippers to sneak, earplugs, and SCUBA gear. Everything a top spy could ever need! In addition to the normal single player modes, multiplayer is also available. You can select from either deathmatches or team play, as is typical to most FPS that are on the et these days. Multiplayer adds to the overall replay value of No One Lives Forever, and adds to the complete package.
The sound in No One Lives Forever is great. The voice acting is totally hilarious. The varying reactions of the AI to your presence are great, and still make me smile. Half the fun is listening to the conversations of the guards. I usually wait to enter a room until they are finished. The ambient noises are also well done. Your footsteps change depending on what kind of surface you are treading on, and you can use the foe's voices and sounds to your advantage. Even the soundtrack is fitting, and (for once) fits the game exceptionally. Just remember to let the terrorist use the bathroom before you finish him off.
The gameplay is like you would expect for a FPS, but more finesse is needed to live. Running in with no worries will usually get you killed, and stealth is the method of choice for approaching your enemies. Since your missions take place in both outdoor and indoor areas, weapon switching is important, as the pistols and sub-machines guns are good for close combat, but you also must do some long range sniping. The crosshair also indicated which people you should shoot, and which to save. This is a nice feature, since at long distances, they may look the same, and the game ends if you kill a civilian or monkey (as I found out). As an added bonus to your primary objective, you can search for several top-secret items, like briefcases, letters, or dossiers. Talking a nod from a more strategic perspective, there are no health power-ups located in any of the levels. So, especially near the end of a sequence, you may be going more cautious to avoid that one last hit. To slightly compensate, there is body armor available, which can tide you over for a period of time. If need be, you can conceal your weapons, which is necessary to talk to locals, since most people are apprehensive of gun-toting spies. You can approach the unsuspecting people in each level, and they just might give you useful information, but usually not: they usually just complain about going to Morocco instead of France. Funny guys!
The story is advanced through cut scenes, but they are interactive. For instance, when your superiors make fun of you, you can either smile, or tell them off. Movie clips were never more fun! The cut scenes do set up your next missions, and each mission are often separated by training missions, which teach you how to use that exploding lipstick you'll need in the next mission. The overall effect is that it feels like you're taking part in Austin Goldfinger 3. Plus, it gets you interested and involved in the game, and makes you want to play more (trust me).
And the AI is not too shabby. They will duck and cover, hide behind walls, and will flip over tables for cover! Are they allowed to do that? You'll soon wish you were back in the days where the AI stood in one place, instead of killing you in No One Lives Forever. I even saw a couple tuck and roll. Oh, and you can hop on a motorcycle. Yes, I believe this game is more than your basic action shooter.
The graphics in No One Lives Forever are about on par with Half-Life. This does not mean (by any stretch of the imagination) that the graphics are horrible, just not earth-shattering like so many games nowadays. Cate looks silky smooth, even from up close (all that makeup was worth it); however, the supporting cast does look a little rough when you're up close and personal. The environments are very well done, though. You get a real feeling of the atmosphere of each location where you battle evil, and exotic they are. Thankfully, the 60's theme is not transmitted in the levels, as the realism of the levels shine through. The stages could have turned really silly, but the designers went for authenticity, and that's a good decision in my book.
If you are a fan of first person shooters, No One Lives Forever is for you. It's been a while since we've had a story-driven, smart, funny, and engaging shoot-em-up. The standard FPS gameplay is enhanced by realistic weapons, fun gadgets, high-quality AI, and an overall fun atmosphere. The advancing storyline will draw you in, and you can't turn back after you enter the world of Cate Archer. Not that you would ever want to.