Review by Ofisil

"The best female spy is back. But..."

No One Lives Forever 2 is a FPS developed by Monolith Productions. While being a sequel to the very good No One Lives Forever this game isn't the same, some major changes have been made, some good, some unavoidably bad. In any case the game still is one of the best single player FPS games, with lots of crazy action, nice stealth tactics and lots and lots of humor.

Story: 7/10
Presentation: 8.8/10

NOLF2 is very similar to the first game in terms of plotline and remains a great parody of Bond-flicks. Kate Archer, UNITY's best superspy is once again against the evil organization called H.A.R.M. that still has plans for world domination. Many characters from the previous game have returned along with some new and very good ones that are spoofs of typical spy movie characters and of course we still have witty Catie, one of the best female game characters, (the best among action heroines IMO). There aren't so many plot twists as the previous game, which is a huge minus, but the overall presentation is a bit better. More… movie like if you get my drift.

Gameplay: 6.8/10
Replay Value: 4/10

NOLF2 once again blends pure run n' gun action and stealth tactics and like in the first game the result isn't exactly balanced but it IS a good game nonetheless. The first chapter makes you say, “WOW! This game is perfect, much better than the first one!!!”, but there are some disadvantages that restrain the gameplay from being perfect, but I digress… First the good stuff: Stealth like in the first game relies in using silenced weapons, avoiding cameras, hiding bodies, walking lightly and so on. A very helpful lean move has been added and the enemy AI is slightly improved although the bad guys still behave a bit weird and when they see you they run like crazy towards you. One interesting new feature is that when you're being chased, you can hide and blend with the shadows. There are some areas, like rooms with lights turned off or narrow paths between buildings, that when you enter them a small eye icon appears in your screen indicating that you are now in a hiding place although you're still not completely invisible.

The main addition are the Spy Skill Points which can be gathered by finding certain items or completing main\side quests. You can afterwards use these points and improve your abilities, like your Marksmanship, (increased accuracy), Stamina, (how much damage you can endure), or Stealth, (hide faster and move more silent), and many more. This feature gives you a much better motive to collect everything while in the first game you would only search for items for completion's sake and for the humor involved. Gadgets are still here and IMO are even better. Various kinds of grenades, (frag, sleeping, laughing, stun, etc), a hair spray\lock welder, a makeup mirror\decoder, a lipstick\camera and many more. Most importantly we have a great Utility Launcher that uses various types of ammo. The most usual ones are the tranquilizer darts that put enemies to sleep but apart from these we have tracking darts that can be used in an enemy in order to mark them in your compass. There are also camera disablers and robot destroying electrical darts.

And now the bad news: After 10 minutes of careful planning, you avoid cameras, kill enemies while they sleep or eat or just patrolling, you hide or vanquish the bodies and start searching the area to find… that other soldiers have taken the place of the dead ones. Yes ladies and gentlemen… enemies spawn from nowhere… and that's a very bad thing for a stealth game because it is totally unnatural and annoying. Also while less linear NOLF2 is very, very easy. Finally, (and maybe most importantly), the first game's main problem was the fact that while a game build for stealth tactics it featured more action than stealth. This problem still exists and it gets worse as you progress in the game although both the action and the stealth levels are awesome. Lets hope that the sequel, (if it ever comes out), will fix these problems…

Graphics: 10/10
Design: 10/10

Major changes here!!! The first game was good looking, but this is absolutely beautiful! First of all the main characters look almost real and have great body\facial animation. The biggest change has been done to the main character who now looks even sexier but beware that she also looks veeeeeery different from the previous game. I love the new style because in my opinion she is far more beautiful, (kicks Lara's archeology ass anytime), distinctive and at the same time more down to earth while the first version of Cate, (which I also love), was more “aristocratic” with colder facial characteristics. What will WOW you though is the level design. While you won't travel through many areas like in the first game the few that you will see are wonderful. You begin at night in a wonderful, small traditional Japanese town with nice waterfall in the background showing you the high-quality special effects of the game. The lighting in the very detailed and greatly designed roads creates an almost magical atmosphere and after fighting the beautiful female ninjas you enter a building and look at a very realistic Japanese-style house. The rest the game is equally great, with Siberian mountains, a detailed city in India, a wonderful windy Ohio, (very atmospheric area), and many more. The special effects, (fire, reflections and so on), are wonderful, the levels and the characters have great design… and generally everything looks beautiful! NOLF easily stands among newer graphic “Titans” like Half Life 2, Doom 3 and so on.

Sound: 8/10
Music: 6.7/10

Get ready to laugh! Remember the funny conversations between guards or main characters, well now they are even better both in terms of humor and quality and that because there has been excellent work in the voice acting. You'll hear people talking about all kinds of stuff and the dialogue is well written and witty. Weapons still sound very good and powerful and ambient sounds are a lot better from the first game but still nothing special if you ask me. The music is once again a bit disappointing… no, no, it certainly not bad, it is actually very good, but apart from the main theme, which is EXCELLENT, the in-game music themes are a bit simple and can get very repetitive too soon although they help in creating the right atmosphere in each separate occasion and change when you are being chased for example.

[+]:
-A great parody of old spy films
-A great Action\Stealth FPS
-Even better “special” gadgets
-Improve your skills by using skill points
-Beautiful graphics and great sound effects\voice acting
-Cate Archer :)

[-]:
-Enemy Respawning in many levels
-Very easy and still very linear
-Once again more action than stealth tactics
-Remember what H.A.R.M. stands for… or else…

Also Play:
Deus Ex (PC)
No One Lives Forever (PC)
Project I.G.I. (PC)

Overall: 7.7/10

NOLF VS NOLF2… which is better? None if you ask me. They are both great games although NOLF2 is my personal favorite. Despite my slightly negative review, (in the gameplay section), I absolutely love the game and in my humble opinion if the developers had focused more in creating a stealth game rather than an action one we would talk about an excellent title. Cross your fingers for a sequel, (Damn you F.E.A.R.!!!)


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/07, Updated 08/25/10

Game Release: No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way (EU, 10/18/02)


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