434th played so far


Genre: First-Person Shooter
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2002
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment

Spy movies can make for good games, especially with a nice bit of shooting – as we’ve seen in Goldeneye 007 before. Some shooting, but also plenty of reasons to explore, look in out of the way places and accomplish different targets from just killing everyone – something FPS games do need.

No One Lives Forever 2 promises to deliver that. Not as much James Bond (although it has been stuck in my head as being so, probably because the title could be straight from a Bond movie), but with enough overlap. It promises to be an interesting one.

Our Thoughts

This game honestly kept getting better as we played. It started off with decent graphics. What really grabbed us there, initially, is the lip sync. It can be dodgy even in today’s games, we didn’t expect much from a thirteen year old game… but it was pretty much perfect. Absolutely impressive. Further throughout the levels, you can tell there are graphical limitations, especially with decorative objects, but mostly the game does well in making the environments recognisable and looking good, helped by some pretty good lighting.

Clicking through, we find some more RPG-ish elements. A simple inventory system as well as character stats covering some major spy abilities – technical abilities (hacking and such), stealth, shooting and so on. It’s not very complicated – mostly an important way to encourage you to complete sidequests and try different paths. The boosts you get do feel significant enough to help make the game easier and allow you to face tougher enemies.

More on that in a moment, however, as combat doesn’t come that early. No, the next moment of awesome comes as you walk a bit further. A bird starts talking to you – a mechanical bird, as you discover moments later. It’s one of your mentors giving you advice is a less conspicuous manner, useful in these early levels. It fits in so well with the aesthetic, the spy world, that it sets the tone in the right way.

The bird also introduces you to the side quests in the game. As expected, the game sets you goals to follow, rather than just levels to beat. Sometimes it does require you to get to the next level, but others are to find contacts or, as main goal of the first set of levels, to take a video of the big crime boss in a meeting. It requires stealth, having to be quiet to get the chance to get the information, and makes for a far more gripping story. Especially as you sneak while a single wrong step could end the mission. Side quests are fairly obvious – things like collecting envelopes or finding a cache of weapons – but make a lot of sense in the world.

Combat, then is as engaging. It’s not entirely optional, but sneaking can make for easy kills (or getting people subconcious) and you’ll spend a lot of time dragging bodies away so they can’t be discovered. The AI is pretty smart too, finding you with the smallest hints sometimes, without ever being unfair – intelligent enough to be fun. There is a breadth of options – plenty of weapons, but also devices like smoke bombs and tasers to get rid of enemies. Then there are the melee weapons – the first level takes place in Japan, so of course there is a katana to be had, and used.

The game quickly moves to colder territories, which leads to one of the last features I’ll mention as being great. Sure, there are plenty of games with vehicles out there, but somehow the snowscooter feels like they are a bit special in an FPS. There’s some pure glee in racing around the world doing that, even if the path can be fairly linear, and the fact that you must make a few jumps to get through just feels right.

Final Thoughts

This game felt like it would be good, but not as exceptional as it turned out to be. Not as much a Goldeneye expansion, it more takes from the Deus Ex hymnbook (a game we’ll be playing soon that I’m greatly and badly looking forward to) and expands on it to be a bit friendlier and shootier, but makes it work just as well.

Not often does an FPS make me want to play this much more than before.  A genuinely fun discovery for us.

  1. […] one that fits the bill best, however, is No One Lives Forever 2. Sure, FPS games are good and engaging and we had a bunch of fun ones, but this didn’t seem […]