Console magazines on the other hand ignored the game entirely that year, mostly because it wasn't released on any yet. It eventually got a PS2 port two years later, but it was apparently a bit ass. I hear the Mac port was good though!
(Click the pictures to view them at an incredible 1280x960 resolution.)
It was nice to have an opportunity to have some input into the conversation, though Cate hoarded almost all the other lines for herself. To be fair she knows a whole lot more about what's going on in the spy business that I do. She could give James Bond a run for his money when it comes to remembering detailed info on obscure topics.
The developers haven't shied away from the fact that Cate's working in a very male/asshole dominated profession though, and some of the characters are outright sexist towards her. They make it very clear that the only reason they're giving this assignment to an emotionally inconsistent woman is because all their other agents keep dying.
And then when the job's done and the guy walks off, I'm sent to another window to snipe another band of pop-up assassins. They just keep coming! It's like the developers were contractually forced to put this crap in and decided to get it out of the way early.
Fortunately these enemies go down in a couple of shots, or one good bullet to the head, so I can get away with being stupid if I have the skills. I don't have to wear down their health first.
You know this may not be the prettiest shooter in the world anymore, but it's got a good feel to it. Plus the enemies seem to have a little more intelligence than in a game like Nightfire: they don't just stand out in the open and get shot. Well, not always anyway.
I'm in Morocco by the way, nowhere near the Middle East, in case you were wondering. These guys I'm shooting are from the local branch of a global James Bond villain organization called H.A.R.M., which stands for... something. Probably.
Anyway after successful escaping H.A.R.M.'s assassins I returned to England, only to discover that the guy who I was sent to protect ended up getting killed anyway. Oops.
There's a running joke here about the code phrases being really sleazy, but it just isn't working for me. It doesn't help that almost all the minor characters have really terrible stereotypical accents, like deliberately bad. In fact it's not just the accents, they're putting on silly voices too. I wish they'd dialled it back a bit, played their lines a little more straight.
There's a brand new game feature in this bit: security cameras. Yep, it's a stealth level, and I have to avoid being seen or heard by creeping around outside their field of view.
And once that siren's going, that's it; there doesn't seem to be a way to stop it. The level's on alert mode forever and I just have to live with it. The cool jazzy sixties-style dynamic spy music is still doing its best to set the mood, but now it's being drowned out by this bloody siren.
Right, fuck stealth, time to wipe out every bloody guard on this base. Then I'll be free to look around for the explosives I was told to trigger as a diversion.
SEVERAL LAPS OF THE LEVEL LATER.
SOON, AFTER FINDING THE SCIENTIST AND JUMPING OUT OF A WINDOW.
Now that I've found the defecting doctor I get to play an interrogation level, as I try to get info out of him during the flight back to England.
Now I have to fight them all off single-handedly and protect the scientist, else I'll get shouted at again back at HQ.
TWO MINUTES LATER.
This level's a real shame as it's got a fantastic idea, but it's just not much fun to play at all. Bloke falls out of the sky in the distance, I shoot at them, another bloke comes out and so on.
First though I've been sent to meet up with an American agent at this club in Hamburg, and I'm struggling to get inside. I figured out right away I needed to climb in through that window on the right, but I instantly lose whenever I try. It's bloody annoying to know the correct solution, but not being able to make it work.
Turns out in the end that I had to speak to someone in the crowd to get them to distract the guards. Which I might have tried earlier if it was generally possible to ever talk to people in this, beyond in cutscenes.
To be fair I can't get over the fact that he isn't made of rubber, so I guess we've both got issues to work through.
Hey, is that a working mirror! You don't see them in games that often these days for whatever reason, which I think is strange. Maybe it's a weakness of Unreal Engine 3, I don't know. Perhaps someone reading this knows the true answer.
Hang on, I think I see a guy sneaking up behind me in the mirror. Good thing it was there really.
But to be fair, this isn't actually that bad at all. For one thing I haven't gotten lost yet, which already puts it ahead of some of the levels I've played. Not really a fan of these sharks though, but that's just because I don't like desperately putting ten spears into something only to be insta-killed by his buddy sneaking up behind me.
Well at least now we know what the chemicals in the freighter were for. H.A.R.M. has been using the doctor's research to concoct a drug capable of transforming human beings into walking time bombs!
H.A.R.M. has infected several innocent people without their knowledge, and have issued demands in exchange for the antidote and a list of names. Fortunately we have a lead to go on, so it's time for me to go off and kill a whole lot of bad people.
Yep, it's another bloody stealth mission and this time I absolutely positively have to get through without killing every motherfucker in the room. Good news for stealth fans, not so good news for me. Thank fuck for quicksaves, because the game really does seem to be designed with them in mind; one screw up and it's all over. No wonder the PS2 version got bad reviews.
But screw this place, this train's moving slow enough for me to jump on and catch a ride. I wanna see where it goes.
I can't believe they put in a whole Indiana Jones style 'line across a map' video just for people dumb enough to try riding the train, that's awesome. Fortunately I was able to ride the train back again, and carry on with the mission where I left off.
This would be so much simpler if I was allowed to shoot the cameras.
I know a lot of people like stealth gameplay, so I have no problem with the game being based around that, even though it's not really for me. But searching for envelopes in an office? Who does that appeal to? Wait, I had to find those four spies earlier, then find three bombs on that other level, TWO other levels actually... this game is a stealth collect 'em up! Gotta search every corner of the bloody level trying to find the one object you missed. Man it's tedious.
Whoa, what the fuck is in these bullets they're shooting me with? I'm hallucinating goats here. That can't be good. Gotta ignore the goats, shoot the guards.
Oh incidentally, I know I was complaining about the enemy voices earlier, but these guys sound awesome. It's making me want to sneak up on them just so I can overhear the dumb conversations they have. Half the humour in the game comes from eavesdropping on henchmen discussing the mundane inner workings of a multinational crime organisation, and it can be genuinely funny.
Still, it could've been worse... and the next room along is. It's absolutely impossible in fact, too many laser. The solution is actually pretty straightforward though and I'm sure most people would figure it out, but it still made me feel clever for solving it. I won't spoil it though.
You know, I think this is why I hate surprise stealth levels in action games so much. The penalty for making a single mistake is often 'YOU LOSE!' I can't just run away and hide for a bit, let people calm down. Nope, once that alarm is triggered it's all over.
Plus then I had to have a shoot out against enemies armed with space lasers that cut right through my armour and drain my health bar instead. Health doesn't recharge in this, but my armour works like a second life bar so I usually rely on finding body armour to keep me going. Not on this level though, I've got to make do with what I've got (ie. load up a quicksave whenever I take damage). Though they do keep putting the armour pick ups around, just to torment me.
These enemies are almost as good at aiming as I am at this range, and they'll only get better as I get closer so I'll just have to take them out from here. Could be worse though, one of the other groups I fought around here was carrying a bloody rocket launcher. Even when he missed, he hit me.
Nightfire (which actually came out two years later, but whatever), they've also got their own cable car helicopter shoot out! It's funny just how many FPS games featured a bit of gunplay on an aerial tramway in this era. But anyone can do one helicopter, that's easy, so they've stepped things up to the next level. I had to shoot down half a dozen of these bastards one by one before it'd let me move on, and it was about as tedious as it sounds.
Anyway, a few more boss fights later and that was it, and thankfully they let me use guns this time. The game ends pretty much how you'd want a spy film to end: with Cate in bed with a beautiful Bond girl. Actually that's a total lie, it ends with a satisfying mix of plot twists and shocking reveals. Be sure to stick around after the end credits for an extra scene!
To be honest No One Lives Forever was a bit of a disappointment to me. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid game, I'd slot it somewhere between GoldenEye and Half Life (it's definitely a step above the Nightfire games); but it had the potential to be better. I really wanted to like this more than I did, because it's got so much to like about it. The shooting is generally great, but I spent most of the game lost, stepping over corpses, trying to figure out what button it wanted me to press next. It's filled with interesting, well acted characters, yet I found myself wanting to skip cutscenes because they just dragged on too long. The game is dripping with style and atmosphere, yet half the time all I heard was a bloody siren because I'd accidentally triggered an alarm ten minutes ago. It even has a level select, though you're only allowed to pick from every third or fourth level. You wanna play through the level with the bike, tough you've got to play the entire level on the train first. It's ridiculous.
Still, it's nice to play a comedy game that's actually halfway funny for once. Plus even though I was determined to quit the game every time a level pissed me off, somehow it tricked me into playing it through to the end, so that's definitely earned it a gold star.
If you want to talk about No One Lives Forever, to point out that I'm a heartless monster for saying anything bad about it, or just want to share your thoughts on this site in general, you're welcome to leave a comment.