No One Lives Forever 2

February 4, 2003

Every once in awhile you come across a game that you just feel good about from the second you put the disk in. You can’t really explain it, but somehow even the install screen manages to keep you in awe. The game is great from beginning to end and you’re instantly in love. [url=]No One Lives Forever 2[/url] is definitely this type of game. Having never heard much about it and never having played NOLF I didn’t have much interest in this game until one of the guys from [url=]Paladin[/url] giving it “game of the year” hype. Regular visitors to the site know that I’ve been on a bit of a gaming exodus lately, for some reason I’ve felt the need to try out genres that I typically haven’t enjoyed in the past. I even found myself spending my free time immersed in Final Fantasy VII. So when I heard so many positive things about a game in such a short amount of time I figured it was time to give the old “sneaker/ spy” genre another go.

In my opinion there are two basic schools of spy work. One is the “sneaker” style, you might find someone like James Bond employing this tactic. You know the type, the guy slips into the party undetected to snap some pictures of a secret lair hidden under the bathtub. The other school of spying I like to call the “Run n’ Gun.” Obviously the Run n’ Gun is self-explanatory. For some reason game developers seem to feel that everyone prefers the sneaker style and they design their games accordingly. This has really turned me off to spy games in the past, because I would much rather sit up on a peak and snipe everyone before I smash my way into the party with crossbow in hand. Instead of forcing you to do things a certain way, the game developers at Sierra decided to give the player the option. Each mission can be completed by using the “sneaker” tactic or the “Run n’ Gun.” Giving the user the ability to complete the objective the way they want to complete it is what it’s all about. Many spy games I’ve played in the past give you one way to do something and give you a “this is the only way to do it because I said so” attitude. Allowing for various ways to complete a mission paved the way for endless hours of replay value. Props to Sierra games for letting me decide what type of spy I want to be.

Even though I was playing NOLF2 on a GeForce 2 the graphics were great. NOLF2 was trying to achieve it’s own type of style with the graphics and the results were a huge success. Instead of going down the path of pre-rendered cinematics they did a somewhat cartoony/ live rendered style. It’s hard to describe, but trust me, it’s very well done. One of the major problems I’ve run into with FPS games in the past is the clipping. NOLF2 is done so well that you don’t even pause to say “Hey, there’s no clipping in this game,” because you don’t even notice. I just couldn’t possibly say enough good things about the graphics in this game. The guns look great, the enemies look great, scenery and backgrounds are perfect, footprints in the snow are great, the list could go on and on. Normally I don’t rate things on a scale, but if I had to rate the graphics on a scale from 1 to 10 I would defiantly give this game a 9.

Amazingly enough the sound matches the graphics in quality. The voice-overs are excellent and humorous, the gun sounds are fantastic, the background music doesn’t ever get annoying, and they did a great job of incorporating sound proximity. As you get closer noises get louder, like they would in real life. If you sneak around you can eavesdrop on two enemies having a conversation that might give you a good chuckle or reveal an integral part of the puzzle you are trying to solve. If you get too far out on the ice with the snow mobile you will start to hear the ice cracking. And the music and sound fits in perfectly with the style of the graphics and story. In case you are just catching on, the developers did an excellent job with this game.

Another reason that I have hated many FPS in the past is that there is just so many damn buttons you have to push to accomplish anything. The first thing I usually do when I play a new FPS on my PC is set up the controls similar to the old [url=]Counter-Strike[/url] style that I used to use. In my opinion you should be able to pick up a game and be able to play it within five minutes, even if you only think you are playing but are just going through a tutorial like in [url=]WarCraft III[/url]. NOLF2 is pretty much grab-and-go. The buttons aren’t very complicated at all and the game will tell you what you need to press from time to time. For the most part the controls make sense too, like you press “Enter” to “Use” and item; that just seems natural to me. The only weak point about the controls is that my mouse seemed to be a bit hypersensitive and not very smooth. This could be due to the optical mouse of use, or that my graphics card is outdated. I tweaked with the settings for a little while, but nothing really made a significant difference. It just takes a little getting used to, and defiantly does not deter from the game very much at all.

Ever play a game that is too hard? Ever play a game that is too easy? Either way you are pretty much going to be done with that game in a very short amount of time. I’ve been playing the Single Player mode of NOLF2 on easy mode and the difficulty is nothing short of perfect. The only time I’ve had to play has been at night after work, and it will usually take me about two or three nights to beat each level. You can also save your game in the middle of a level and resume there later without having to restart the whole level. You’ll find this feature pretty handy because it will take you awhile to beat some of the levels. As you progress further into the game new enemies are introduced and they increase in difficulty, bigger and badder guns come into the picture as well.

While I haven’t had time to play the multiplayer mode much the single player mode is enough to make this game great. NOLF2 brings back the joy I used to have for video games when I was a kid and to be totally honest is one of the most fun games I have ever played. There is enough variety in the missions to not feel monotonous, and once I learned how to use the compass right I didn’t spend a lot of time wondering where I was supposed to be going. This is one of those games that you can’t wait to get home and play because you can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. And of course I can’t say enough about being able to pin a ninja to a wall with an arrow shot from a crossbow. Few things in life bring a gamer as much pleasure as scoring a headshot with a sniper rifle from 300 yards away.

Again, I hate to go to the rating scale, but this game is as close to a ten as you could possibly get. NOLF2 is a must own for fans of spy games, FPS or hell if you like games at all you need to have this game! I am still a huge fan of WarCraft III but this game defiantly deserved GameSpy’s game of the year award with all the new ground it broke. NOLF2 has earned itself a special place in my heart and I will be using it as a standard for PC FPS games in the future. Go buy this game!

Score: 5/5

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