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Take one dash of James Bond –

Take one dash of James Bond – one dash of Austin Powers – add a huge portion of fun and excitement – plus add the sexy curves of Agent Cate Archer and you’ll have “No One Lives Forever.” -- a game that wants to shag you rotten, baby!

“No One Lives Forever” is the latest First Person Shooter from the folks at Monolith Games, whose past games have ranged in quality from good (Blood), to fair (Shogo), to bad (Claw), to downright horrible (Blood II). I bought a copy of “B II” for $9.99 and I still think this is the biggest pc gaming screw job I’ve ever had… I’m still reelin’ from the feeling of it and its terrible performance on my system, not to mention various bugs and overall faulty game balance.

So when I played the first demo of NOFL, I thought – “Oh, great – another Monolith crap fest,” as it ran just as poorly as “Blood II. “ It should be noted that the NOFL engine is the latest iteration of Monolith’s “Lithtech” engine, of which “B II” was among the first to be made with it… “B II” was the 1.0 engine and with NOLF it is up to 2.5. Of course, Monolith made it known that the demo wouldn’t represent the final version. The haphazard way the demo played didn’t convey any overall sense of structure.

So did Monolith live up to its words; let’s find out…

The Game:

Taking place over fifteen missions the story of UNITY Agent Cate Archer unfolds; you’ll find yourself in many large and varied locations – from Morocco, to East Berlin, to the English countryside, and many more places for nearly 60 levels of spy hunting thrills.

After losing many operatives in the field, UNITY discovers that it’s the work of that evil bastard Dmitrij Volkov – (he’s bald, got a mustache, plus an eye-patch, so you know he’s a rotten no-good punk, or was a window clerk at a BK drive-through) – and it seems he has score to settle…

Cate Archer is assigned a desk job as we watch the various movies that set-up the premise and engage the viewer into this world of the mid ’60. But don’t think that sweet little bottom is going to stay planted for long – Cate and her mentor, Bruno Lawrie are dispatched to Morocco to protect an American ambassador from assassination – and to learn more about Volkov and the organization with the mysterious acronym – H.A.R.M.

From there, the events unfold and the player is drawn into this battle to save the world from the nasty plans of H.A.R.M…

The Weapons -- The Gadgets – and the Vehicles, Oh, My!:

What would a shooter be without guns? I guess you could throw frozen potatoes at the baddies – but where’s the bloody, gore-ridden fun in that? NOLF has a fair share of firepower, including a .38 caliber revolver, AK-47 assault rifle (wait for the cries of protest from Col. Grossman and Tipper Gore), and my favorite – the Geldmacher SVD sniper rifle with zooming scope… Pop a cap from hundreds of feet away; make’em feel the burn! Also, to be found are the M79 grenade launcher – and a weapon called the Bacalov Corrector, which fires explosives shells.

Many of the weapons can handle different types of ammo – full metal jacket – dum dum bullets – phosphorous rounds… And the gadgets – oh, well it’s best left for the player to discover them… At the beginning on each assignment, you’ll be prompted to go to the UNITY training center to learn about the strange, and sometimes, deadly death dealing devices you’ll be working with…

Give a stranger the kiss of death with the exploding lipstick! Oooh – I can’t wait!

During a certain point in the game, Archer gets to mount her Triumph motorcycle and also there’s a snowmobile that can be rode.

Game play and Lithtech 2.5:

This time around game play better balanced, but there are still a few quirks with the engine itself. The enemies react to the environment, if you shoot a bad guy with the .38, the noise will bring any others nearby running your way. Other times, using the pistol with a silencer will also do the same thing – what’s the point of a silencer if everyone hears it.

A neat little trick in the game is that the villains will attempt to take cover when you fire back at them – and most of the time it works fine. Other times, they seem to forget that you’re shooting at them, and they’ll stand there. Hey, if they want to make my life as a Secret Agent that easy, then okay – but as a game player it takes away some of the thrill.

The animation of the characters are top notch – using Skeletal Animation for smooth life-like movement, and Specific Recoil Modeling for targeting areas of the enemies body – a head shot will take ‘em out quicker than a shot to the leg or body. Sophisticated Damage Modeling gives action to the characters – if shot near a stairwell, they may tumble down it to the bottom, or fall off a balcony after a well-placed bullet to the head – or a simple gunshot will throw them back… It’s really something to see.

Lithtech’s 2.5 engine is able to kick out many large outside landscapes, but it is at a cost – on my PIII 500 – with Radeon DDR at 800X600 32-Bit color, the frame rate seems to hang somewhere in the twenties… Of course it could be more due to my ATI card and processor. Also I noticed white seams where the textures meet on the buildings during play… Not enough to ruin game play, but it still is troublesome to see.

I’ve haven’t dived into the multi-player aspect, but my guess would be that it wouldn’t be on the order of Quake III or UT, due to the strain on the system, processor-wise… Lithtech’s NOLF is very demanding that way.

The Good and the Bad:

The Good:

Interesting twist on the basic FPS with humor. Fun weapons and gadgets to play with. Give that FSAA a workout -- NOLF looks fantastic with it running. Voice acting for the most part is good. That Cate Archer has some big breasts.

The Bad:

Lithtech’s 2.5 engine couldn't fight its way out of a paper bag. Many times during the game, I could see where the textures met -- many white seams were visible. Whenever Cate gets hit by a shot, she screams like she having an orgasm...

Wait, put that one in the good list :)

Despite the occasional frame rate drop and minor quirks, I’ve found that Monolith has produced a game worth of any FPS fan’s hard drive – I’m planning to play this one to the end, and I still have Star Trek: Elite Forces and Deus Ex waiting for me to finish them…

They’ll have to wait – Cate’s calling me and she needs my help… Groovy, baby, groovy….

And remember – Sniper Rife + Gas Tank = BOOM!

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Das review by UberNeuman

Copyright© 2000 by Uberneuman