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NOLF2 review


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Since there has been reviews for the other newer games....... I came accross this review of nolf 2. Kinda says why we like it soo much to this day.

 

No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way Review

 

author: Eric

Well, the original No One Lives Forever was the recipient of much critical acclaim, though wasn't necessarily a commercial success. Regardless of how great the reviewers said it was, it perpetually failed to grab me. I wasn't enthralled. I played through roughly a third of the game before I resorted to cheat codes, just so I could get to the end and say I'd finished it. But I never got that far, stopping at probably a little past the halfway point. There were some things about it that were great. The humor was good, the character models and animations were superb (for the time), and Cate Archer was (and is) a certifiable hottie. But other facets of the game just made it drag a bit too much. In between most missions, you had to go back to a training facility to learn how to use some new gadget. The cut-scenes, though very well done and usually entertaining, were often quite lengthy. Still, it was a very unique game, full of charm, wit and style. It just wasn't compelling enough to keep me playing.

 

Then along comes No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way. Cate Archer returns as the only superspy that can (try to) spoil the evil organization's plot to destroy the world. Again, NOLF2 has been the recipient of much critical acclaim, probably more so than the original. And with good reason. Unlike the first installment, this one grabbed me from the beginning and hasn't let go. Supposedly, the first few chapters are the weakest of the bunch (seems to be a trend in games these days...), but they have been highly enjoyable so far. There are also multiple ways to accomplish any one task. Want to sneak in undetected? You can do that (but you have to be patient, so that's not usually my avenue of approach). Want to gun down everyone? No problem. I tend to use a mixture of the two, hiding out for a while, and then shooting everyone.

 

The designers have done much to slickify everything, and have really succeeded (slickify: to make things slick; ex: damn, that's slick! it's been really slickified!). From being able to continue your most recent save with one click from the main screen (or even hit the quickload key), to being able to exit the game pretty much instantaneously, to automatically switching to the appropriate gadget when needed, everything is really streamlined. I really like being able to exit a game easily, by the way. From within the game, just hit ESC, choose quit, yes, and you're on the desktop. Unlike, oh for example, Rallisport Challenge. ESC, retire, yes, quit, yes, ESC, ESC, ESC, ESC, ESC, quit. Sheesh!

 

NOLF2 uses the newest iteration of the LithTech engine (Jupiter). LithTech engines have mostly been criticized for being a bit behind the times. Games built on them (which include such titles as Blood 2, Shogo: Mobile Armor Division (which I thought was a lot of fun), the original NOLF, and others) have always looked good, though not great. This is true in some respects in regards to NOLF2. These games have mostly surfaced during the graphical splendor days of the likes of Unreal Tournament and Quake 3: Arena. Unfortunately, NOLF2 has the unenviable task of competing (graphics-wise) against such titles as Unreal Tournament 2003 and Rallisport Challenge. And while NOLF2 falls a bit behind those other two, it is still a fantastic looking game, with excellent and detailed texture work and perhaps the most convincing water effects I've seen, rivaling even Morrowind. The environs in which you get to spy and shoot are varied and interesting. From a Japanese village to an Arctic outpost (my favorite named chapter, by the way: Ice Station Evil) to an underwater base and even to a trailer park in Ohio, there is no shortage of diversity. The environments are quite interactive as well. One feature I liked is that a lot of locations are littered with debris, such as empty bottles. If you bump into one, it can topple and the noise may alert guards. You can also use this as a diversion or a way in which to draw the bad guys toward you.

 

So actually sound plays a fairly major role in the game. Not quite to the extent of Thief, but remaining silent can be very beneficial. The original No One Lives Forever had a few stealth-based missions, but the problem with those was that discovery was the same as dying: you had to start over or reload your last save. This made the corresponding missions quite difficult and frustrating. However, the developers have revamped stealth in A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way. No longer does discovery mean automatic failure, and I don't recall any missions in which stealth was an absolute necessity. It was certainly useful, though. Music and sound are used to superb effect in these regards. You can walk slowly or creep in a crouching position to reduce the amount of noise you make when mobile, and footsteps make different noises based on the surface you are walking on (almost a given these days). I also mentioned previously that you may want to avoid toppling bottles or other debris that litters many of the levels, as the ensuing noise may bring guards in your direction. When guards or other baddies are not alerted to your presence, the music assumes a soothing cadence. As soon as you are spotted, however, the music becomes much more pounding. But if you can find a dark corner to hide in for a while, eventually the guards will break off their search for you, and you can safely resume creeping around. The music resumes its slower pace at this point, too, so you will always know when the heat is on.

 

Silence has another benefit: it allows you to sneak up on the bad guys and knock them unconscious, using a variety of methods. Typically, you have access to a Mascara Stun Gun that delivers a shock to your foe and incapacitates them for a while. I don't know if this was intentional, but it seemed to me that whenever I used the stun gun, the noise of it would alert any nearby guards. Anyhow, you also have access to a utility launcher, which can accept different types of darts, such as tranquilizers, camera disablers and electric charges. Knocking out an enemy is only temporary ("All of a sudden I feel very sleepy..."), but it can get you past certain points without having to kill anyone. While the baddie is out, you can search the body and remove any weapons. After a period of time, he will wake up. If you have disarmed him ("Filthy American capitalist has stolen my weapon!"), he will alert any nearby guards or trigger an alarm, and may look for another weapon and then hunt you down. There are also a few innocents in many of the levels, such as scientists who work for H.A.R.M. I guess they aren't really innocent, working for an evil world-domination oriented organization, but anyhow they will typically cower in front of you if you come in brandishing a weapon. Catering to my sadism-sense, I enjoyed watching them cower for a bit and then zapping them with the stun gun. Searching their bodies occasionally yielded some useful bits of intelligence, but most often just a ball of lint.

 

Speaking of intelligence (Cate IS a spy, after all), part of her mission is to gather as much information as she can. This comes in the form of items and documents sprinkled around the levels. Sometimes finding a piece of information will open up a secondary objective, such as gathering all related documents; an internal memo trail on the new H.A.R.M. uniforms and a series of audio tapes on the transformation of some ordinary schmoe into a H.A.R.M. operative were a couple more-memorable examples. Additionally, each piece of intelligence collected will reward Cate with skill points. These points can be used to upgrade several abilities, such as stealth, marksmanship or stamina. Each skill has about five levels, with Mastery of certain skills conferring exponentially larger bonuses (such as shot damage, health, or ability to remain silent). This allows the player to customize the way they prefer to play the game. Want to just gun down everything in sight? Put points into weapons and marksmanship, some more into stamina (gives more health) and armor. Want to be a sneaky-loo? Put points into stealth, gadgetry (enables Cate to use gadgets more quickly and effectively) and search. All skills are very useful, and I was frequently torn as to where to spend my points. Additionally, these skill points can be used at any time, not just between levels or during intermissions. Aside from the increase in skill points, searching out bits of intelligence has other rewards: the writing on many of the memos or letters is humorous and very well done; good for a chuckle.

 

So how does the game actually PLAY?! you're all asking. Well, in many respects, it plays like a "standard shooter". You can move your "virtual avatar" about (viewed from a first-person perspective exclusively - that means it feels like you ARE the character) using a combination of "keys" on your "keyboard". From what I've been told, the default layout follows what has become the de rigueur standard for this "type" of "game". You press the W key to move forward, S to move back, A and D to sidestep left and right respectively, and some other keys to do some other things. In addition to the "keyboard", you also must use your "mouse" to control Cate. Introducing the revolutionary MouseLookTM feature, movement of the mouse corresponds roughly to the movement of Cate's head. Move the mouse left and she will look left (and turn that direction, too!). Same with the right. In addition to this, there is another feature known as "Invert Mouse". With this disabled, moving the mouse up (pushing it forward) looks up, while pulling it back looks down. I found this configuration to be somewhat confusing, so I tried out this "Invert Mouse" thingy. Essentially, this swaps the up and down motions of the mouse. With it enabled, pushing forward on the mouse actually causes Cate to look down! Unfortunately, they didn't take a cue from that lame-wad Jurassic Park game, so you don't get to see Cate's breasts when you look down.

 

Anyhow, now you have a pretty good idea about how to control the character. Exactly what can she DO?!! Well, other than walking around, she can walk around quietly, she can crouch, she can lean left and right, and she can stand still. But wait! There's more! She can jump, too! And, at certain points in the game, Cate has access to what are known as "weapons". With these items, she is able to defend herself from antagonists, such as the guards in an underwater base. Or, if you prefer, she can become offensive, rampantly killing anyone she comes across. The use of weapons is accomplished by "clicking" the "left mouse button". Now, if any of terms are unfamiliar to you, I apologize, but I have to assume some level of familiarity with playing "games" on the "computer". There is also a "right mouse button" that is useful for using objects, such as opening doors. Like any good spy, Cate also has "gadgets", such as the afore-mentioned Mascara Stun Gun, or the Toe Nail Clipper Lock pick, or the Hairspray Welding Torch. When appropriate, "right-clicking" on an object in the game will ready a gadget and use it on the object. In "gamer's" terms, features like this are known as "interactivity". One of the more humorous gadgets was the Angry Kitty, a proximity mine disguised as a cuddly little kitten; activating it is always good for a laugh.

 

Alright, enough with the remediality. One of the remarkable features about NOLF2 is that you can really play it how you want to play it. Running around making a lot of noise and shooting anything that moves, or creeping around and trying to avoid any confrontation. For the most part, it is possible to avoid killing anyone. There are a few sequences, however, where there is no way around it, such as when you have to defend a hulking Scotsman while he's trying to unbar a door and insane mimes are attacking from all around. You really have no other choice but to return fire. There are also a few "boss battles", in which Cate must face off against some nefarious ne'er-do-well or other. Far and away the most interesting of these characters is the Mime King. He is easily the most interesting game villain I've come across in a long, long time. However, in general the boss battles are a bit lackluster. Other than the Mime King, I had no difficulty defeating all the other bosses on the first attempt. Now, just to allay your understandable fears, these aren't boss battles in the typical console-style gaming definition. You're not facing off against some giant head with missiles coming out of its eyes and tentacles sprouting out of its ears to swat you around. These are (mostly) just people, but a little tougher than the garden-variety thugs you will come across in your travels. And for the most part, the AI of the villains is quite good. Never did I come across a guard running into a wall, which occurs with some frequency in other titles. Guards will make patrols, stop to have conversations, investigate noises, bodies or footprints in the snow, search for you when you've been spotted, summon backup, trigger alarms and take alternate routes to your location in order to get behind you for a better shot.

 

There are also some very memorable and striking sequences in this game. By now, most have heard of the Ohio level, in which Cate is searching for information in a trailer park while a tornado is bearing down. Interesting setting, but easily the most memorable scene for me was in the "Ice Station Evil" level, which takes place in a mostly abandoned Arctic outpost. Parts of this level reminded me so very much of the excellent scene from Half-Life in the parking garage. I won't say anything else, other than that it was easily the most tense gaming scene for me in recent memory (probably going back to System Shock 2, anyhow).

 

I noticed very little environmental clipping, other than the (infrequent) enemy hand or gun poking through a closed door. The only real clipping I noticed was with bodies. If two enemies were killed in close proximity, on the ground they would frequently clip through each other. Also, Cate has the ability to move bodies (so as not to be discovered by wandering guards). When you drop these on the ground, if you place two or more bodies in the same location, they will clip through each other. But these instances are few, so it does very little to spoil the illusion. The physics engine is quite good as well, incorporating some pseudo-ragdoll effects. I didn't really notice this until near the end of the game, but there were some portions of a level that were on some fairly steep slopes. Killing a guard on the slopes, his body would roll end over end down to the bottom. It's not quite up there with Unreal Tournament 2003 and its Karma physics engine, but it was convincing nonetheless. The character models and animation are also extremely well done. From the subtle movements of a guard taking a cigarette break while on patrol, to the cavorting of the mimes, nothing is average or mediocre. This is also the first title that I'm aware of, to feature eyes that track movement, furthering suspension of disbelief.

 

In a year where quality has been rampant (with titles such as Medal of Honor, Mafia, and Morrowind), No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way stands as tall as any other. This is easily a candidate for my Game of the Year. There are very few faults I can find with this game, and those I can are easily overlooked (except perhaps not enough glamour shots of Cate...). Blending some truly memorable scenes ("ABIGAIL!") with a strong sense of humor, interesting and varied gameplay, NOLF2 is a truly enjoyable romp. You want a friggin score? How's a 9.3 strike ya?! Booyah! Go buy it now, jerky!

 

http://www.groovgames.com/display.cfm?id=115

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Found another one

 

 

 

 

No One Lives Forever 2 is a rousing success on every level.

No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way--the sequel to GameSpot's 2000 Action Game of the Year, The Operative: No One Lives Forever--continues the surprising success Monolith has experienced in the last couple of years. It improves on almost everything that worked well in the first game, and it also fixes that game's problems. Thanks to this sequel, an already amazing year for action games just got even better.

 

 

Skill points can be used to raise eight different character stats. Though the details have changed, the new game's story and setting are similar to those of the first game. It's still the swinging '60s, you're still UNITY agent Cate Archer, and you're still fighting the worldwide crime syndicate H.A.R.M. and its quirky henchmen. This time, you'll not only travel to predictable locations such as a remote military base, an undersea laboratory, and Japan, but you'll also visit the never-before-simulated world of Akron, Ohio, an environment that in video game terms qualifies as truly exotic.

 

If the story hasn't changed dramatically, the means of telling it certainly have. The expository cutscenes--which were sometimes interminable in the original game--have been seriously streamlined for the sequel. Nearly all of them make their points quickly and effectively and then move on. This skillful trimming results in scenes that are funnier and generally more entertaining than those in the original game. And from the unexpected visual gags, to the strange gadgets, to the overheard conversations of H.A.R.M.'s neurotic, chatty minions, all the other elements of the series' steadfast good humor remain intact as well.

 

The series' stealth elements, arguably the weakest aspect of the original's gameplay, have undergone a complete overhaul. Thankfully, a lean function has been added to Cate's repertoire of actions. Most of the game's 40 levels (spread across 15 long chapters) can be completed using stealth, brute force, or a combination of the two. And unlike in many games with a stealth element, guard alarms are usually localized--if you trigger an alert in one section of a level and manage to escape, enemies in another area won't necessarily be alerted to your presence. The designers have also done away with all the aggravating missions in which you automatically lose if you're spotted. Though triggering an alarm (especially on higher difficulty settings, where enemies pack a real wallop) will often result in a tough situation, you always have the option of fighting your way through, fleeing, or hiding until things cool down. In fact, several new gadgets, such as the bear trap and the banana peel, are specifically designed to help you escape from pursuers.

 

Excellent level design complements the game's improved sneaking element. Most of the environments include side passages that can be used to avoid guards. These side-passages, however, also give enemies a way to circle around you in a fight. The AI of your enemies, which was already excellent in the original, has been somewhat improved. Often, one henchman will hold his position while another one tries to work his way behind you. Meanwhile, the AI of characters who aren't actually engaged in combat has been improved dramatically. Guards will become alerted by sounds, footprints in the snow, cries from other guards, and the bodies of their fallen comrades (which you can pick up and carry out of sight). Once alerted, they won't immediately pinpoint your location. They'll first check the area of the disturbance (taking a moment to investigate dead bodies). They'll then start poking around, turning on lights and peeking into closets, in an attempt to find you. All these actions are accompanied by auditory feedback in the form of either the guard talking to his compatriots or muttering to himself. The stealth system is both intuitive enough and lenient enough to avoid the frustrating half-baked feel of similar systems implemented in other shooters, which often seem to be nothing more than an afterthought. With the possible exception of the Thief series, No One Lives Forever 2 features the most seamless and satisfying integration of first-person stealth to date.

 

As in the original, there are lots of bonus objects to find and extra tasks to undertake. But this time, there's an actual incentive for tackling these challenges. Skill points are awarded for completing objectives, and these points can be used to improve eight different character stats through five different levels. The effects of raised stats are noticeable without being unbalancing. For instance, improving your weapons skill will reduce the amount of time it takes to load a new clip. It's nice to have improved skills, but it's not necessary to complete a level.

 

The graphics are rendered using LithTech's next-generation Jupiter engine, and while they're somewhat trumped by the next-generation Unreal engine on display in the Unreal Tournament 2003 demo, they still look terrific. The Jupiter engine is capable of rendering large environments with a lot of detail, and it seems particularly suited to creating some striking water effects. But the characters in No One Lives Forever 2 are an especially notable triumph of imaginative design combined with excellent technology. Fluid animations and eyes that actually track objects permit the game's characters to truly act--a rare feat in gaming. The soundtrack is once again an endearing mix of an orchestral score and Ray Conniff-style space age pop. Also, those who played the original may notice that a new actress has provided Cate's voice work for the sequel. It's a little jarring at first, but you'll quickly adjust to it.

 

 

The Jupiter engine does a good job with large outdoor environments. Facing stiff competition from games whose sole purpose is multiplayer action, the developers have concentrated on the game's great single-player experience and (possibly wisely) decided to not include any competitive online modes in No One Lives Forever 2. Instead, they've created a supplemental four-chapter campaign that can be tackled cooperatively by up to four players. The campaign is composed of reworked environments from the single-player game, and it's designed to be a true campaign experience in that you can actually save and resume online sessions. The levels do a good job of tailoring the action to a team of players. For instance, at one point you have to carry Cate's unconscious body to a safe zone, an act that requires one person to bear the load while the others to protect him or her, since you can't carry a readied weapon and a body simultaneously.

 

Since it's not a review until someone starts complaining, here you go: The multiplayer doesn't have a lot of replay value. Also, there might be a few too many tasks that require you to scour a level for a key object. Those criticisms might seem half-hearted--in truth, there isn't really a lot to complain about. No One Lives Forever 2 is a rousing success on every level. In an era when grim, humorless realism appears to be the sensibility of choice among shooters, a game as genuinely funny and good-natured as No One Lives Forever 2 is a welcome relief. That it's also a genuinely excellent game makes it almost too good to be true.

By Erik Wolpaw

Posted Sep 27, 2002 1:58 pm PT

 

It was comments like his about the original multiplayer (the CO-OP only) that lead to the patches that added DM and doomsday to the game.

Moral if enough of us make noise **Nolf 2 petition** etc and the fact Nolf 2 is the only one of this series listed as being supported we may still be able to get the changes we've asked for.

 

 

 

You can read this one at http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/nooneliv...ihw/review.html

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Hey E1...any word back on the petition that you sent them?

 

 

Major sent it off to VU last week I believe and a few other game publications.

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Something interseting i found on gamespot:

 

Hi,

 

The reason for this question is simple, but it has more complicated origins. As you may know, when a company releases a game to the consumer, the consumer expects for that company to provide good support for, at least, a reasonable amount of time (enough to work out all the bugs/balance issues that they released/rushed the game with).

 

Unfortunately, that's not always the case. There are companies (like one that has a Big letter "E" at its start and ends with "Arts") that, for some reason, tend to terminate their product support fairly quickly, even if the product still has bugs that need to be worked into patches. I'll tell you more. I know that Jane's F/A-18 is an old sim, and wasn't designed for WinXP, but the company states in their knowledge base that the game shouldn't have problems running in that O.S. because no patch is needed to address compatibility issues.

 

When I tried to run it, and couldn't, I tried their support database and couldn't run it either, so I emailed them about it. They sent me a very cheap answer actually. They told me that the keyword there was "shouldn't"...and, in short, that there was nothing the company would do about it. How cheap!

 

So, after this scroll of info...my question is: Why do some companies take those kinds of actions with their consumers (which in fact keep their own companies alive) and why can't consumers do anything about it?

 

Thanks for your answer in advance.

 

The Ghost Rider

Puerto Rico

 

Economic viability, my friend. The simple reasoning is that trying to keep up with and maintaining accurate, helpful support for games that are old and obscure is just not cost-effective under most corporate guidelines. It's like that quote from Fight Club--the whole thing about the cost-benefit analysis. Take the number of customers likely to still be playing said old game (likely determined by a sliding scale, starting from the number of people who bought the game, and working downward year by year), and multiply it by the cost of maintaining a knowledge base, up-to-date patches, and a support staff knowledgeable in said game. If the end result is more expensive than it would be to simply eat whatever customer losses the company would incur by simply not bothering to support the game, then the company will just eat the customer loss.

 

It's crass, but it's true. -- A.N.

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