Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: 10/3/2002
Noone Lives Forever 2 is the successor to the great yet underplayed Noone Lives Forever. In case you’ve happened to miss our detailed preview you play as Cate Archer, one of the few female spies in UNITY, a top secret organization that is dedicated to stopping terrorist and criminal activities around the globe. In the first NOLF, UNITY combated and nearly eliminated the H.A.R.M. criminal organization. By eliminating key members and foiling their plots, Cate Archer almost single handedly gave HARM the deathblow. However, evil has a way of regaining itself and with H.A.R.M.’s new leader Cate Archer is once again A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way.
Imagine the very essence of a great game. Now imagine that essence poured over an awesome graphics engine, add a large helping of plot, an equally large dose of humor, and a little something for everyone. NOLF2 simply raises the bar for PC FPS, a bar that has long been held in place. Simply put, this is definitely a must-have game of 2002.
The game’s plot starts off simple enough with the investigation of strange criminal activities in the Orient. Without giving too much away, the plot fits perfectly with the original NOLF and those who had the luxury of playing it will be able to pick up on it very quickly. The plot is almost novel-quality in itself, with just enough exciting bits and twists to keep you entertained throughout the game but not going overboard. Along the way humor is sprinkled generously, which all adds up to be a compelling, flowing, and ultimately entertaining plotline.
The original NOLF’s trademarks were its combination real world and wacky weapons, its ‘60s theme, and its ingenious yet cool gadgets. Along with the standard FPS fare of shotguns, pistols, and machine guns, you can use a banana to give the slip to your foes. Want a baddie to stick around? Stick him to the wall with a crossbow. Feeling a tiny bit evil? Set up a bear trap on a guards patrol route. The gadgets make an equally impressive comeback, with hairspray cans that convert into welders, compacts that unfold into code decryptors, and evil robotic kittens that chase down opponents and explode.
The stealth part of the game is one of the games best features. If you hide in the darkness you will slowly conceal yourself, to the point of almost being invisible. As long as you don’t make any sudden movements or fire a weapon the enemy will never know you’re there. If darkness is nowhere to be found Cate can now lean and fire around corners, but if you lean for too long enemies will eventually notice you and attack. Walking on different surfaces plays a factor into the game was well. If you are walking on sheet metal you will make much more noise than walking on grass and if you make enough noise nearby enemies will investigate.
The AI in the game isn’t the best AI out there, but is far from the worst. Enemies will react to their environments, taking cover behind objects, sounding alarms when overwhelmed, and reacting to any noise the player makes. The AI will also follow any footprints they find, which can be used by the player to lure unsuspecting AI into a trap. If you don’t alarm them the AI will engage in humorous conversation with each other that sometimes give clues but usually are just there for comic relief. However, the AI isn’t without its flaws. Unlike the first NOLF you can pick up bodies and move them out of sight, but it is rather pointless as any enemies who happen upon a fallen comrade simply dissolve the body and continue on their way. Having them sound an alarm would be a little more believable but overall the AI in the game usually comes through.
The game takes place in the 1960’s and almost every aspect of the game represents it, from the menu colors, to the theme song, to the clothing of the characters. The game almost seems a spoof of the older Bond movies and spy shows of the 1960s, which intentionally or not adds a unique flavor to the game.
Cate visits many locations throughout the course of the game, from India to Siberia, the Orient to Idaho, all of which have a unique style in both the layout and overall feel. The Orient comes complete with Asian-themed music and characters, while Siberia gives off a cold, isolated feel. The India levels are filled with Arabian housing styles and dusty streets, while the suburbs of Idaho come complete with a 3D tornado ripping apart houses in the distance.
Graphically the game is sheer eye candy. The character models are some of the best models to date from any game. The animations are all very fluid and believable, and while some of them seem overly dramatic they all fit the game well. The textures and special effects are top notch and every level seems to showcase this level of quality equally. The weapon models are hit and miss with some being of higher quality than others. The game does need a significantly better computer then the first NOLF, but those who meet that requirement will be in graphical heaven.
The sound in the game is just as good as the graphics with a catchy main theme and an awesome musical score that changes dynamically through the game to fit the mood. Sound effects in the game are what you would expect them to sound like in real life but don’t seem recycled from other games. Bullets clang and hiss, wood creaks, the katana blade swooshes, and crossbow bolts barely make a noise as they fly towards their mark. The game supports EAX and surround sound, so the better setup you have the more immersed you will be. However, even on a two-speaker setup the sound quality is very good.
Control in the game is fully customizable, which is almost expected with today’s PC games. There are a large variety of actions you can do and yet the controls are simple to configure and use, you’ll never get “lost” in your keyboard searching frantically for a key. The action button opens doors, searches bodies, reads messages, awakens sleeping people, searches stacks of papers, and will simply reload your gun if nothing you can interact with is under the crosshair.
The multiplayer side of the game is the only downside to the game. NOLF2 features a built-in browser, which works wonderfully and is very easy to use. However, with the current version of the game all multiplayer servers seem to lag for some reason, even on servers with low ping. Hopefully a future patch will alleviate the problem. Also, not many people seem to play online as of yet so players are relatively sparse with the number of servers even less. Nevertheless, once these two issues are out of the way NOLF2 boasts a great multiplayer side. 14 of the main game’s levels have been reworked and are available in a Players VS AI co-op mode complete with working objectives and teamwork-oriented gameplay. The game also features Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag modes. Some maps even some complete with vehicles. Once the above-mentioned issues are ironed out NOLF2 should turn out to have a great multiplayer side, a huge improvement over the original NOLF’s lackluster multiplayer modes.
Overall, Noone Lives Forever 2 is a great game and would fit nicely in any FPS fan’s collection. While the multiplayer is currently lacking, the single player mode alone can warrant the game’s purchase price. With a great plot and theme, awesome gameplay, and the trademark NOLF humor, Noone Lives Forever 2 has emerged to be one of the best PC games of 2002.