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

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4.0
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Written by  :  kbmb (399)
Written on  :  Apr 09, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars4.29 Stars

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Summary

A worthy sequel.

The Good

No One Lives Forever is one of my all-time favorite games. Never before has such a linear game been so much fun that I would restart it and play through it again right after I beat it. Each level was fun, and the varied levels were just as great. Enemies came at you in large numbers and you even had to use a little strategy by hiding behind walls and knowing when to fire - also avoiding friendly casualties. The enemies even hid behind walls and ducked behind barrels, something I hadn't seen done very well until them. And of course, the humor in the game was the biggest seller. It took itself just serious enough. Every piece of intelligence you found had hilarious messages in it, and every conversation you overheard was enough to put you on the floor grabbing your side from laughter. It was, yes, my favorite FPS of all time.

No One Lives Forever 2 is a game I'd been waiting for since I beat the first level in No One Lives Forever and realized what a great game it was. The sequel, in most ways, is wonderful. It's a worthy sequel to my all-time favorite FPS. The new Jupiter engine rocks, capturing everything from the original and adding so much more to it. Animation is more fluid, and the in-game cutscenes are some of the best I've ever seen.

In NOLF2, you resume your roll as Cate Archer, superspy, working for UNITY and attempting to thwart the evil plans of H.A.R.M. Gameplay has changed a tad from the original. No longer do you have to sort through your inventory to find that pesky lockpick - instead you just hold down the "use" button and Cate will whip it out for you. Also, a lot of the "useless" gadgets from the first have been removed, and most levels are stricty run-and-gun. Good or bad? Perhaps good; those who didn't care for the "stealth" missions in the first one won't find a problem in the second one.

The humor is well-present in this game, even moreso than in the first. Every single piece of intelligence you find is filled with hilarious notes, and you might find several notes that all connect together to form a very funny exchange of hilarious quotes from two H.A.R.M. agents. And whoever doesn't think that riding on the back of a tricycle piloted by a large Scottish guy in a kilt gunning down fat French mimes is the coolest thing ever should check himself into a clinic. And not to mention the "angry kitty", a robotic cat that lures the enemy to it, thinking its a cute furry kitten and then explodes.

Levels are very well-crafted. In one particular level you fight ninjas in a trailor park in Ohio as a tornado rages through it! And another you journey into the depths of an undersea HARM base. Each location has several missions within them, all hilarious and entertaining.

The new skill point system also works very well. You gain skill points by finding intelligence, doing some optional "quests" (finding other intelligence items) or by completing missions objectives. You use these skill points to increase your attributes, such as ammo carrying capacity and marksmanship.

A lot of people don't like the "new Cate", but I found the new attitude of Cate to be refreshing. Instead of being a smug down-to-business girl, in NOLF2 she portrays an actual human being. Her dialogue sounds much more real and convincing and far less rehearsed than it did in the first one.

The Bad

Sadly, while this is a great sequel to a great game, it's not nearly as good as the first one was. That's not to say it's a bad game - not at all. Just not as good as the first.

To start, the difficulty is awkward. On normal difficulty, it's quite possible to make it through any level just by running through it, picking up armor and killing only those that you *have* to. The enemy is a horrible shot and they do very little damage. However, on "hard" mode, it seems like the damage you take per shot is multiplied by ten. Three shots you die - more realistic, I suppose, but not that fun when you find yourself surrounded by twenty fat French mimes with machine guns. So you'll probably be playing on "normal" difficulty the whole way through, which is far too easy.

The whole feel of belonging to UNITY is all but gone in this sequel. In the original, every chapter required you to go through some sort of training to see what kind of nifty new gadgets the labs had come up with. It was very entertaining, and very useful. One of the things I looked forward to after completing a chapter was what kind of cool neato gadgets I'd be able to use in the next, even if they weren't all that practical. Sadly, that's all gone in the sequel. In fact, you only go to the UNITY base once in the game, and even then it has nothing to do with a briefing or new gadgets. The gadgets you do get in NOLF2 aren't all that much interesting, either. Instead of having a lipstick bomb, you have...a grenade. You don't get any cool sunglasses that you can use to zoom in and take pictures with, either. They make up for it a bit with the angry kitty and blow-dryer blow-torch, but other than that, much is missing.

The "stealth" missions are also pathetically easy. In the original, I remember playing on stealth mission for hours because it was so difficult. You weren't allowed to alert your target at all, so you had to make your kills quick and silent, and make sure the bodies were disposed of. In NOLF2, however, stealth is almost completely pointless, since you don't fail the mission by alerting anyone. You can just run from everyone you're supposed to "elude" once they start chasing you, and they'll eventually get lost or give up looking for you. Boring. I would say that it's a nice feature that you're able to pick up bodies and drag them to a hidden spot, but it's a completely useless feature. You can also hide in the shadows, but for the most part, that was completely useless as well.

The levels also just weren't that entertaining. In the first one, there were nearly a dozen (heck maybe even more than a dozen) different locations you visited, each one unique and each one memorable. In NOLF2, the levels are somewhat dull. The outdoor levels are too cluttered with buildings and streets that only serve to annoy you as you "treasure-hunt" for an item. The indoor levels are a little better (such as the Indian theatre or the UNITY base), but pale in comparison to NOLF1's levels. Even the simpler ones in NOLF (like the Morocco hotel) just were more entertaining.

The Bottom Line

Despite all its shortcomings, this game is a worthy sequel to one of the best FPS' of all time. It has some great voice acting and incredible in-game cutscene animation, and all the humor that was in the first is in the second. Perhaps it's a little short (I beat it in two days...but I played it nonstop :P) and the levels aren't really as much fun, and the funky gadgets are all gone, but regardless, this is still one of the best first-person shooters I've played all year.