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Game Over Online ~ No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way

GameOver Game Reviews - No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way (c) Sierra Entertainment, Reviewed by - Aaron 'PharCyde' Butler

Game & Publisher No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way (c) Sierra Entertainment
System Requirements Windows, Pentium III 500, 128MB RAM, 1.4GB HDD, 32MB 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 96%
Date Published Thursday, October 10th, 2002 at 01:11 PM


Divider Left By: Aaron 'PharCyde' Butler Divider Right

My review of NOLF over at GameSpy.com caused quite a stir with a few people given the score I awarded it. Thus, I feel I have a little history with the NOLF series and so I jumped at the chance to review the second installment in this Austin Powers shags James Bond style spy game. Let’s check it out!

Part two of NOLF, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In H.A.R.M.’S Way, or rather NOLF2, as it will be affectionately known as from here on out, was developed by Monolith Productions and co-published by Sierra and Fox Interactive. Cate Archer, the heroine of the original and the character you control, along with U.N.I.T.Y., the secret goody-goody organization she works for, are all back to entertain us in NOLF2!

Story Time!

The story is still set in the 1960’s era of brightly colored and frighteningly ugly and yet…“groovy” fashion. Once again, the plot revolves around the evil H.A.R.M. organization and their secret doomsday project, “Project Omega”. To make matters worse, H.A.R.M. has recruited assistance from a gang of evil French mimes! So, your job, being the now higher-polygon-count-super-sexy secret agent that you are, is to uncover H.A.R.M.’s dastardly plot and foil it before they succeed in starting a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Because, as we all know, that would be, “Not groovy, man.”

As the story unfolds, you will get to visit several different locations around the globe. These include Antarctica, India and even under the deep blue sea in your one-[wo]man shark sub. The plot is helped along rather nicely with in-game cut scenes as opposed to CGI. These cut scenes are not only informative, but also contain some rather intelligent humor. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. The story is told with excellent voice acting as well as a unique blend of music that will have you humming along whether you like it or not.

Groovy Gameplay

My god, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun playing a FPS in a LONG time. NOLF2 is a complete package when it comes to combining the regular rules of the FPS genre with new and unique twists on how things can be done. I say this because Monolith has taken a bold step with NOLF2 by adding upgradeable “skills” to the game that overtly affect how your character will perform throughout the adventure. Lucky for us, they implemented this feature in an easy-to-use fashion. There is a skill tree that contains a list of primary attributes such as “Marksmanship”, “Gadgets”, “Stealth”, “Armor”, etc., that your character uses during game play. These main skills are then broken down into sub-categories. For instance, Health, Endurance, Resistance, First Aid and Toughness are all located under “Stamina”, along with percentages as to how proficient your character currently performs each one. When you raise the main attribute using “Skill Points”, the percentages of the sub-attributes go up accordingly. These “Skill Points” are gained after performing different tasks such as finding secret information when searching file cabinets, bodies, desks, etc., and also after successfully completing a milestone during a mission.

The ability to search your victims for weapons, armor, health and intelligence is also a cool new feature in NOLF2. You also have the ability to search desks, file cabinets, lockers, chests, and vaults for secret information that will reward you with skill points, as well as possible information about your current mission.

In addition to a skills system, you also have a mini-map located in the top right corner of your screen. This comes in handy when you need to figure out which direction you’re facing as well as being able to see the enemies you have tagged with tracking darts. What? Tracking darts? Yes, keep reading.

The game’s controls are simple and straightforward, nothing fancy and or complicated. By default, everything you use on a regular basis is located at your fingertips. Of course, you can change the keys around if you wish.

There are 15 chapters and each contains several “scenes”. Needless to say there is enough game play to keep you busy for a good amount of time and all of it is rewarding.

The goal of each level varies from basic assault, to sneaking your way through an enemy compound, to fixing broken machinery which allows you to escape. Many of the scenarios you might expect from a good spy flick, you will find in NOLF2.

All the levels are well designed. Not once did I ever get the feeling, like I did with the original game, that the levels were linear. It seems a lot of creativity and care went into the level design to make the player feel like they were actually there. I’m happy to report that the hard work has paid off and everyone that plays through each mission will be left satisfied.

Yay! Spy Stuff!

NOLF2 is chock full of unique gadgets for you to utilize on your missions. Believe me, you will end up using them all at one point or another.

Your special agent items are visually appealing and useful to boot! The trusty “Body Remover” spray, Fingernail Clipper lock pick, and Coin make return appearances, aided by the new Compact code breaker, the Hairspray welder, and the handy U.N.I.T.Y. keychain light, to name a few. While the keychain goes out on occasion, it’s nothing a good shake won’t fix. In addition, there is the CT-180 Utility Launcher, which is more of an item than a weapon since it’s non-lethal and there are several kinds of ammunition you can use with it: Tranquilizer darts, darts that disable surveillance cameras without setting off the alarms, energy darts that can disable pesky robots, and tracking darts that you use in conjunction with your mini-map. Enemies you shoot with a tracking dart show up as red dots and you can then watch them move around and plan your movement accordingly. For your amusement, you also have bananas you can use to trip up enemies that might be chasing you. While it wasn’t terribly useful, it certainly provided some laughs.

Along with all the “far out” items mentioned above, you also have a nice assortment of weapons with which to inflict large amounts of death with: an AK-47 Assault Rifle, a RFA Series-4 Bolt-action sniper rifle, a McAllister .32 Automatic Handgun, a Gordon 9mm Submachinegun, an Eye Shadow Taser, a Vindicator Sportsman’s Crossbow, two different swords, several kinds of grenades, and a few other extra surprises along the way. The pistol, SMG, and sniper rifle can also be equipped with a silencer for more covert operations.

Now THESE Are Graphics!

The LithTech Jupiter System that NOLF2 utilizes is simply leaps and bounds above what the Lithtech engine of old, that powered NOLF, was ever capable of rendering. Every environment is created with jaw dropping detail that makes every single one a visual feast. I spent a good amount of time just looking at the surroundings trying to take everything in; from the eerie and yet beautiful-snowy emptiness of Siberia to the wonderful maze of buildings in India.

Running on a P4 1.7 with a GeForce3 (yeah, old school baby!), I received respectable frame rates; there were some chunky moments during heavy combat, but nothing that gave my machine a heart attack. The only downside to the engine I came across was the load times. They seemed to just cross the boundary of an acceptable waiting period.

The sound effects in NOLF2 are great and are woven into the game rather nicely. The weapon effects, ambient noises, weather effects, the idle and most of the time, humorous banter coming from enemies talking around corners all work together wonderfully.

Multiplayer Co-op Goodness

Currently the only option under the multiplayer menu is the one for co-operative play. This allows you and three other friends to play through a special campaign where you play the roles of secret agents assisting Cate Archer through the first five missions of the game. You also have the option of loading up scenarios made by other players. Saving is also an option. It is recommended you get yourself and your friends familiar with the gameplay before you put your lives and patience in each other’s hands.

At the time of release, co-op multi is all that is available. There will definitely be a patch released post launch that will add deathmatch and other game play types. Currently, the main reason for purchasing NOLF2 won’t be for the multiplayer aspect, but only time will tell what lies ahead.

Conclusion

If you couldn’t tell by my review, I was thoroughly amazed by the overall improvement that NOLF2 has made over NOLF. You can bet that when I was playing, I was looking to see if the things I had complained about in the first game would rear their ugly heads. Thankfully, they did not. NOLF2 is a smorgasbord of not only fantastic visuals, but fantastic gameplay as well.

If you want to know which game is the leading candidate for the title of, “Action Game of The Year”, well, you’re looking at it! It’s groovy baby, groovy.

 

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Rating
96%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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