The Operative: No One Lives Forever

aka: NOLF, Nikto Ne Zhivjot Vechno, No One Lives Forever, Wu Ren Yong Sheng
Windows Specs [ all ]
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(prices updated 9/21 5:01 AM )

Description official descriptions

Some time in the 1960s, a former thief Cate Archer is the only female agent in the service of U.N.I.T.Y.; a worldwide secret espionage agency. Having been relegated to menial tasks over the years, Cate is finally given a chance to prove herself when a terrorist organization called H.A.R.M. starts to knock off active field agents. Under the qualification of being available as a trained agent, Cate is given the authority to track down and investigate these H.A.R.M. activities. In missions around the globe, Agent Archer will find herself sniping assassins, stealing documents, and doing a host of other suitably sneaky, often deadly espionage tasks.

No Ones Lives Forever is a first-person shooter with stealth elements, often focusing on remaining undetected and obtaining intelligence data. The game combines stylistic elements of James Bond espionage stories and games (such as GoldenEye 007) with a humorous attitude. Cate will need to use her weaponry and gadgets to get the drop on enemy agents. Among the gadgets available are photographic sunglasses, a lockpicking barrette, body remover powder, a cigarette lighter which can be used for wielding, lipstick explosives, and a robotic poodle for distracting guard dogs.

Emphasizing sneakiness, the game not only gives extra points for not being seen, it also features alarms that cannot be shut off and guards that don't return to their docile ways once alerted to the protagonist's presence. Enemies follow AI routines such as knocking tables over and ducking for cover. However, in most levels stealthy approach is not mandatory: theoretically the player may almost always opt for dealing with the situation aggressively, having Cate shoot first and ask questions later, gleefully blazing through the levels. However, while the mission will get completed, Agent Archer will receive a lower score for taking the non-subtle approach. In addition, by acquiring intelligence items Cate will obtain various bonuses to her health, armor, ammo capacity, damage, or accuracy.

The game's artwork and music reflect the 1960s setting, from the loud outfits to the beatnik rhythms in the bars. In a homage to spy movies and series of that time period, there are plot twists, shootouts, close calls, set pieces, confrontations against villains, and a few over-the-top action scenes.


  • Никто Не Живёт Вечно - Russian spelling
  • 无人永生 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

163 People (76 developers, 87 thanks) · View all

Additional Thanks to
  • MCA
  • 1500 Records
  • Avalon
  • Panasonic
  • Language Institute
  • ATI
  • NVidia
  • GameSpy
Recording Studio
  • Asylum Studios
Associate Producer
Fox Quality Assurance Supervisor
Fox Quality Assurance Lead
Fox Test Team
[ full credits ]



Average score: 88% (based on 53 ratings)


Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 138 ratings with 10 reviews)

Just like an old James Bond movie (86/100)

The Good
Ok, let me get this out of the way first: the level "Unexpected Turbulence" is one of the coolest levels I have ever played in any shooter to date. If you played the game, you know what I mean; if you did not, I will not spoil it more than I already have. This level probably raises the game rating some 3 or 4 points all by itself...

In general, this is a very good "spy action movie" shooter. The hero kills lots of bad guys, saves lots of innocent people, has tons of weapons and gadgets to use and looks good during the whole process (but, in this case, the hero is a woman, as you probably knew). Some of the action sequences are quite unbelievable and the bad guys are very much over the top, bordering goofy. All in all, reread this paragraph and you will realize that the game is just like an old James Bond movie.

Gameplay sometimes favors stealth over force, what keeps you thinking about how to deal with the different levels. The huge number of weapons and gadgets are wisely introduced during the game a few at a time in pre-mission briefings. AI is fairly good: enemies look for cover (sometimes a bit too much) and often run for help or try to sound alarms instead of taking you by themselves.

The graphics are fine for the game. They are a bit too clean, mostly, but the same can be said for some other outstanding games (like Half-Life). When textures are really necessary (grassy ground, mountains, etc.), they look good enough. The environments do have quite some variation: snowy Europe, tropical landscapes, urban sights, underwater searches, etc.

Sound is mostly excellent: the music is very 60s and the tempo follows the action very nicely. Sound effects are good and varied. Voice talent is also good enough (not stellar), but the scripts are really good. In particular, many unimportant characters have in-level conversations that I almost always stopped to listen (sometimes this stop would even make my mission harder...) -- these dialogues ranged from vaguely amusing to very funny. One of them sounds just like I do when teaching Statistics and got me laughing aloud ("Correlation is NOT causation!").

The Bad
As mentioned above, voice acting could be better. Also, the cutscenes that are done with the game engine itself are well scripted, but the movements of the models during such cutscenes could be improved -- there is a lot of repetition and not a lot of expression from the model faces.

Some nitpicking: while it is nice that the music speeds up and gets louder whenever action is going on on the screen, sometimes it would be TOO loud. I often lowered music volume just so I could hear what was going on during the action... but then the music would be VERY feeble out of the action. I guess this little annoyance actually comes from the fact that I LIKED the music and I wanted to hear it, but it would be nice to have two controls for music volume: "action" mode and "non-action" mode.

I was somehow expecting more from story and environments... On the other hand, it is probably just me -- I have just played "Wheel of Time", and the story and world there are so interesting that N.O.L.F. probably lost a couple of marks there.

But, really, I really did not like the plot ending. Too much happens in too little time, and it feels contrived... This was probably done intentionally, but I wished they had held it a bit. Even James Bond movies are not THAT goofy at the end.

The Bottom Line
A good shooter with character and plot.

Windows · by Thexder0 (1931) · 2002

Fun, cheezy and well-executed. Overall a great game.

The Good
Jut finished playing NOLF, almost three years late - but does it really matter? I've found over the years that a good game just doesn't diminish over time. Too bad so few people have the capacity and patience required to judge a game in the context of its relevant timeframe; luckily MobyGames' reviewers include some such enlightened souls.

With that said, simply put, NOLF KICKS ASS! The game engine (LithTech) generally excels at rendering goregous scenes at decent frame-rates. The indoor scenes are most convincing, and the outdoor scenes are great too. The vast variety of form and colour in the game, combined with the continuous excitement of firefights and daring escapes makes for a very intense gaming experience that never bores. One of the worst qualities in recent years' games is their tendency for endless dream-sequences or linear "run from the bad guys" scenes; even the most linear and scripted scenes in NOLF give you a sense of satisfaction, that you've done something rather than watched as something unfolds. In this respect, NOLF compares very favourably to much more highly-praised games such as Max Payne.

The story is cheezy but very suitable for a 60s-esque spy movie. It's not overly ambitious (which, again, compares favourably to Max Payne) though not overly simplistic, unfolds well across the game's timeframe and manages to stay coherent. The game is also accompanied by very well performed, suitably cliché spy movie music, which (almost) never annoys and never gets in the way of the action.

The variety of weapons and gadgets in the game is absolutely astounding! From various semi-automatic pistols to machine guns, sniper rifles, AK-47 and even a long-distance, high-explosive firing sniper riple, this game has it ALL. Although I never found much use for most of the gadgets (being a "shoot first and ask questions later" player), it was nice to have all sorts of gadgets - lock pick, zip-cord, body-removing spray (ha!) and other cool items. The vast amount of weapons is adequately accompanied by a vast diversity of missions, from typical "enter the building and kill everyone" missions to even more typical "protect the ambassador" missions. Some missions involve subtlety and stealth while others require you to go through minefields and remove "obstacles" with the sniper rifle. There're even missions that require you to do some actual thinking: blow up a generator before attempting access through an electrocuted fence, or do some jumping to lower platforms, shooting people from behind instead of using an elevator. Don't get me wrong: the ability to finish a task in one of many ways comes nothing close to Deus Ex, but it is non-too-shabby...

On top of that, the game is absolutely hillarious; sometimes you get to hear the most ridiculous dialogue from your enemies ("Would you like to buy a monkey?"), others you will face some of the craziest situations ever concieved (Igne Wagner boss level, anyone?). Rest of the game you'll be blowing up a gajillion people with gajillion cool guns. What's not to like?

The Bad
There are very few things that I dislike about NOLF; primarily the one mandatory stealth mission, which I just cheated my way out of. I can't STAND stealth. The beautiful thing about Deus Ex is that at no point during the game is anything so utterly scripted that you can't avoid either a gunfight or a stealthy approach. NOLF just isn't as good in that respect.

Also, some parts are far more linear than I would've liked (primarily towards the end of the game).

Other than that, no complaints!

The Bottom Line
An extremely well-executed game with a hell of a lot going for it. Just get it and play it, you won't regret it - that's a promise!

Windows · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 2003

Possibly the best game since Half-Life!

The Good
This is the first time in years that I have been so engrossed in a game single-player campaign. The average shooter right now pretty much works like this: Walk into a warehouse, shoot all the bad guys, walk back out, walk down the street to the next warehouse, and so on. No One Lives Forever lets you explore a beautifully detailed variety of locations including night clubs, hotels, exotic countries, airplanes, sunken ships, and even a space station! And the best part of all these neat locations is what you'll get to do inside them, such as where you jump out of the plane to steal the parachute on a diver below. Between each mission you'll get very well-done, in-engine cutscenes that advance the story, give you your briefing, and, most of the time, are really quite hilarious. Plus, No One Lives Forever has one of the best, most fitting soundtracks I have every heard in a game! This is the kind of game that literally makes hours seem like minutes!

The Bad
There's only one complaint I have about this game, and that is the multi-play. While it is definitely above average, it doesn't quite compare to the online play found in other shooters.

The Bottom Line
A funny, classy, incredibly fun game that no gamer should be without.

Windows · by Brian Jordan (19) · 2001

[ View all 10 player reviews ]



The game evolved quite a lot from its original conception. Originally you didn't play as a woman, but as Adam Church, operative for Her Majesty's Most Secret Service (MI0) and the game was not as Austin Powers-Swinging Sixties but strived for a more serious humorous take on the James Bond films (Adam himself was a satirical version of Bond). Early screenshots from late 1999 can be found on the web or in old magazines where you can see the early incarnations of NOLF.


A few months after NOLF's release, the ESRB changed its rating to M and its descriptors to Animated Blood, Animated Violence. The Game of the Year Edition has this rating, and it is listed as M on the website, but the original boxes don't. Inquiries to the ESRB about why this happened result in a canned "When the game was first submitted, we gave it a T, but then it was resubmitted with more mature content," which is obviously not true.


Several of the game's missions take place in German cities such as East Berlin, Bremen and Frankfurt. While the developers did make an effort to create a proper setting by making signs that are correctly written in German there are some errors. One in particular is a sign in the Stasi (state security ) compound in East Berlin which reads "Begriff -- Kein Trespassing". This would literally translate to "Term -- No Trespassing". Additionally, most of the articles on posters and Inge Wagner's banner are wrong since they use the wrong gender.

Another noteworthy issue are the villains accent's: Most of the villains are supposed to be German. However, some of their accents sound rather East European. One voice actor seems to have based his supposedly German accent on Arnold Schwarzenegger with a more Austrian note to his German.

German version

In the German version, all blood and death cries were removed. This also means that the "MoreBloodOption" cheat has no effect.


On nearly every level the guards, if you don't alert them, will carry on conversations with each other. Many of these are very humorous, as the guards discuss things which range from high brow topics like sociology in how it relates to criminals and alcoholics to how to let the guard dog relieve itself at the guard's post. Even if it was not part of the point system, being stealthy would be something players would strive for just to overhear all these talks.

Inge Wagner

The game features Inge Wagner, supposedly a grand-granddaughter of the famous German composer Richard Wagner. During your battle against her, a tape recorder plays Wagner's music.


The model and actress Mitzi Martin was the inspiration for the heroine of the story, Cate Archer.


  • In one of the missions, Kate receives a codename "Foxhound". This is an obvious reference to Konami's Metal Gear series., Mitzi Martin, was the inspiration for the heroine of the story, Cate Archer.
  • In one of the cut scenes in the mission "The Dive" you'll see a submarine that has the number 5675-309. This is likely a reference to a popular rock song of the 80's by Tommy Tutone, called "Jenny 8675309". Notice the similarities between the numbers?


The game initially sold poorly until the reviews and word of mouth increased interest in the game. Notably, the sales spiked a few months after the games release and enough positive reviews were printed.


The second disc includes In the Lounge: 9 exclusive music tracks inspired by the 60s, plus 2 groovy music tracks from the Fox Interactive & music search. The track listing is:

  1. Goodman's Surprise
  2. Santa's Workshop
  3. Be-boppin' Shoo-woopin' Along
  4. The Operative
  5. Elevator of Love
  6. No One Grooves Forever
  7. Suisse Chalet
  8. UNITY's Spy
  9. [untitled track]
  10. El Dorado (by Archie Thompson)
  11. Void (by Red Delicious)
Tracks 1-9:
Written and composed by Becky Kneubuhl;
Doug Norwine, Flute;
Joe Finetti, Trombone;
Lee Thornberg, Trumpet;
Lisa Kable, Vocals;
Chris Lee, Guitars;
Mixed and recorded by Gabriel Rutman at Asylum Studios

"El Dorado" (Track 10):
Written and performed by Archie Thompson;
Published by ArchType Music (BMI);
© 2000 Archie Thompson;

"Void" (Track 11):
Written and performed by Red Delicious (Steve Baca, Sara Wallace, Rob King);
Published by Stompin' Music (BMI);
© 2000 Red Delicious

Source code release

The publishers have released the source code for NOLF for anyone to modify. For anyone interested, they can be downloaded at the download section of the official NOLF webpage (link available at the related sites section).


  • Computer Gaming World
    • April 2001 (Issue #201) – Action Game of the Year
    • April 2001 (Issue #201) – Best Screenplay of the Year
    • April 2001 (Issue #201) – Villain of the Year (for H.A.R.M.'s Evil Hand Puppet)
    • May 2005 (Issue #251) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • GameSpy
    • 2000 – Special Award for Story
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 02/2001 - Best Action Game in 2000
    • Issue 12/2008 - One of the "10 Coolest Levels" (for the level "Unexpected Turbulence". It is a short level of six minutes but manages to stay in the player's memory because of its original, funny and challenging main idea.
  • PC Gamer
    • October 2001 - #44 in the "op 50 Best Games of All Time" list
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2001 - Best Action-Adventure in 2000

Information also contributed by dasfatso, Emepol, Entorphane,, Fire Convoy, Marko Poutiainen, Scott Monster, Szajd, Unicorn Lynx, Zovni

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ray Soderlund.

Macintosh added by Kabushi.

Additional contributors: Kalirion, Unicorn Lynx, Solid Flamingo, Szajd, oct, Patrick Bregger, Xy Yz.

Game added November 14th, 2000. Last modified September 24th, 2023.