No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In HARM’s Way
No One Lives Forever might have been the encapsulation of the 60s spy movie with a light sprinkling of witty satire, but in reality it has its own brand of charm. The original also had the advantage of being one of the more original shooters of its own time, encompassing lighthearted humor, cool gadgets, stealth, action and a gripping story all in one package. Cleverness and class also abound in the sequel, but not quite in the same amount.
We again assume the role of female spy caper Cate Archer as she battles H.A.R.M., a nefarious criminal organization hellbent on taking over the world. This time she’ll be working with old enemies and new friends across the mandatory diverse range of locales – Japan, Siberia, India or the American Midwest to name a few – in yet another quest to foil H.A.R.M.’s plan for world domination
The talented guys at Monolith have set out to create a world that’s evocative and genuinely believable, with the AI going about their business smoking, talking, sleeping or performing daily menial tasks. Enemies are vigilant to noises and your visual presence, so hang around for long in plain sight and you’re bound to be spotted. Even more impressive is the tendency of groups of guards to coordinate attacks against you, with some managing to distract you while others surprise you by sneaking up from behind. What’s more, each type of adversary has a distinctly different mode of assaulting and evading your attacks.
In the same token we have more complex levels to go along with the AI. So often we had levels in the original that were either geared towards action or stealth, while here there’s more choice in how you approach things. And while sneaking through the game isn’t as central as in IGI 2, it’s still the ‘right’ way to play the game outside of a few pure action sequence. Stealth is often useful for taking out enemies from a relatively safe distance, a useful tactic considering Cate can now drag bodies out of sight.
Players can now upgrade their characters with a point-based skill system. It might sound fun, but in truth this piece of RPG fluff cripples the game. This is because success is sometimes dictated by your skill chart and not your actual skill. Can’t score a clean headshot with your pistol? Tough luck – you should upgrade your firearms proficiency. And don’t think you can just jump into the shadows Thieft-style and turn invisible. You have to wait for a ‘Hiding…’ bar to load, but you can reduce the waiting time by adding points to your stealth pool. It all feels so contrived and unnecessary.
NOLF2 is an overall enjoyable shooter that is more technically advanced than the previous game. But for all its high-poly detail, the end product is one that feels lighter on the charm that cemented the reputation of its predecessor and its lead. The role-playing angle is completely unnecessary here, the swinging music was scrapped together with the former cast of voice actors, and neither the dialogue nor writing manage the same amount of tension. No One Lives Forever 2 is by no means a bad game, but it definitely can’t measure up to the first one.
System Requirements: Pentium III 450 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, 1.4 GB HDD, Windows 98
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