Review by Hypnotikk

"You truly deeply will never forget your second time."

Remember the first time you met? You'll never forget your second time. That's the tagline for the game, and I must say I couldn't agree more! Monolith has done it again, with its all-new LithTech Jupiter engine. But who cares what engine it’s on? All that matters is that this game is awesome, gorgeous, and more importantly fun!

Storyline and Presentation
A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way continues from the original No One Lives Forever. In case you didn’t play the original, the game is a spin-off on the British 60s based spy motion pictures, as portrayed in the Austin Powers movies. It’s pretty much a James Bond/Austin Powers type storyline. You play a sexy, witty female spy Cate Archer whose working for a secret government agency known as U.N.I.T.Y. out to thwart the plans of an evil terrorist organization known as H.A.R.M. whose plans are bent on destroying the world (Isn’t that original). Despite its lack of originality, the storyline is funny, and enjoyable, but perhaps not as much as the first game. But the fact that some of the original game’s characters are back adds to the charm. The factor that degrades this game most is its loading times. Although, it’s worth the wait, depending on the levels, and your machine, certain levels may take more than 2 minutes to load.

9.5 out of 10

Graphics
The graphics are among the best I’ve ever seen. Other than that, the detail put into the structures and locales are incredible, from scratches on a table, to the dirt on the wall, and the realism of the water. The character models are done marvelously well, with incredible facial detail and movement during speech and to show emotion. Cut scenes are also done very well and add a lot of taste to the game. However the fires and explosions do look a little underdeveloped at times, and clipping (Bodies appearing through walls/doors) occurs. Realism isn’t exactly the focus, as certain parts of the game’s graphics are twisted to fit the funny, and highly stereotypical characters as portrayed in the Austin Powers movies. But even with the lowest resolution (640 x 480), with all the graphical features turned off, apart from the some writings and words, the game still looks nice.

9.5 out of 10

Sound
The soundtrack is perfect for the game, with 60s spy movie style music, and an extremely catchy theme that stays in your head. The voice acting and script is one of the best I’ve ever heard in a game. Conversations are humorous, and are well worth stopping to listen to. The sound effects fit perfectly. Although there appears to be a sound-related bug in the initial release of the game, I never encountered it. No complaints here.

10 out of 10

Gameplay
This is where the game shines the brightest. Although this game is a first person shooter, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. You don’t run around blasting everything in sight like you do in Doom, and nor do you “over-sneak” like you do in Thief. In fact the second game remedies the problem in the first game, where in most levels springing the alarm means “Load Game” time. You would take some effort to sneak and avoid detection by enemies and cameras, and failure to do so would only mean the alarm blaring and the arrival of 3-6 soldiers. Not much of a problem. This also makes the game not too difficult, although certain unlimited spawning of enemies can be annoying.

Character A.I is near perfect but somewhat scripted. People go around reading books, smoking, drinking, sitting, sleeping, running and using environmental items as normal people would. Enemies speak to each other, check around when suspicious, hide behind walls, duck behind cover and roll to avoid your fire. The new features such as the skill point system, searching bodies, the hide icon, and new items are also a plus. And most important of all, yes, the game is incredibly fun.

10 out of 10.

Lasting Appeal
The game is pretty average in length for its level of detail. You can probably finish it in 3-7 days on average. Multiplayer teamwork is really interesting to play, allowing you to look at the story from another aspect, but isn’t really what most gamers look for. Finishing the game unlocks all the levels, some of which are worth replaying for their novelty. Bear in mind that this is no Warcraft 3 or Quake, where its gameplay can last quite some time. Although, I’d have to admit this is the best first person shooter this year.

8.5 out of 10

Conclusion
Sexy, witty, humorous, critical, stylish, intelligent, resourceful, and kicks butt…what more do you want from a girl? Intuitive storyline, gorgeous graphics, top-notch sound, fun and engaging gameplay… what more do you want in a game?

10 out of 10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/09/02, Updated 10/09/02


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