At one point while playing and reviewing 007 Legends back in October, I realized that amidst the godawful execution, there were promising ideas at play. “If this game actually had some semblance of personality,” I said to myself, “as well as more development time, an actual budget, competent shooting mechanics, and stealth that wasn’t broken, it would actually be fun.”

It was definitely an optimistic viewpoint, but a valid one nonetheless. Instantly, I hurriedly searched my mind to think of any FPS series involving stealth and a spy theme that could potentially have a current-generation sequel. I waited for a response to come. Then I waited some more. Then I went to have a sip of coffee. Then I spat out the coffee because I hate coffee. Then, like a stealthy bullet to the back of the head, it hit me:

No One Lives Forever.

In what other game can you do this? (image courtesy Gamespot)

For those unfamiliar with the original game, it was developed by the under-appreciated folks at Monolith Productions and released in 2000 for PC/Mac (and later PS2) as a stealth/FPS title that parodied the style and tropes of overblown spy films. Although a critical and commercial success, spawning a sequel and even a spinoff by the name of Contract J.A.C.K, the series has faded into obscurity lately. Such an occurrence is understandable given the falling out of both stealth and espionage in the later 2000’s. However, considering recent trends and the landscape of today’s gaming market, I firmly believe that now is the perfect time to bring people a No One Lives Forever 3.

Why? Firstly, it’s evident that the stealth genre is making a comeback. Recent titles like Dishonored, Hitman: Absolution, Mark of the Ninja, Assassin’s Creed III, and Far Cry 3 have proven that stealth games are still very much relevant in today’s market and that gamers are very much willing to buy them. NOLF’s stealth wasn’t perfect to be honest, as it was home to some spotty AI and a few levels in which a raised alarm equaled game over, which is a big no-no in my book. Most of the time though, the stealth flowed organically into shootouts when you were spotted, and the environments were open-ended and interesting enough to make both play-styles engaging. With a bit of tweaking, this gameplay formula has the potential to become something just as polished as the apparently excellent systems used in Far Cry 3.

I dare anyone who played NOLF to not remember characters like these. (image courtesy MobyGames)

And that’s just in terms of gameplay. One mustn’t ignore the trademark humor and personality NOLF 3 could bring to the table. If, like me, you’ve grown sick of developers’ recent efforts to make game narratives overly serious and depressing, you’ll definitely understand the appeal of a NOLF 3. For my money, No One Lives Forever contained some of the most genuinely funny humor and memorable characters yet seen in a game. Not only was it intelligent, utilizing actual wit and smart context as opposed to the modern trend of ‘Whedonizing’ dialogue ala Uncharted, but it was also varied, using everything from satire to sight gags to awkward conversations between guards.

The original game had serious moments too, which were just as engaging. (image courtesy MobyGames)

So yes, NOLF 3 definitely has the potential to provide some humor, but one thing we constantly forget is that ideally, humor and drama are meant to compliment and juxtapose each other in order to be effective. Simply having one or the other devalues each and wastes the emotional spectrum writers have available to them. Nothing would help teach developers this than another installment of the series. No One Lives Forever was definitely funny, but also held a serious tale at its core, presenting a narrative that was emotional and engaging on its own. Lead designer Craig Hubbard said it best himself in an IGN interview back in 2000:

“[The game’s intention is] to make you laugh, but not at the expense of providing a broader, more satisfying emotional experience than a spoof generally allows, so that even if you don’t chuckle once, you can still have plenty of fun playing the game. At heart, NOLF is an action/adventure/espionage game with a healthy dose of levity.”

This brings me to Cate Archer herself. She was definitely a strong female protagonist, and by strong I don’t just mean she was a generic badass girl who could take on men in a fight. She was that too, but she was also complex and layered. Her dark past involving theft made for an interesting backstory, and her recklessness was something she had to overcome and fight against during her adventures. SPOILER ALERT: The death of her mentor Bruno Lawrie, for example, came across as an effective piece of character development for her. SPOILERS END. Coupled with her wit and charm, she wasn’t just a memorable female protagonist, she was a memorable protagonist, period. Again, I bring your attention to Craig Hubbard:

“She’s not just some marketing gimmick, but rather a character with a complicated, tragic personal history and clear, understandable motives that drive the narrative.”

Cate Archer’s had many adventures, but the 60’s aren’t completely safe yet. I mean, they weren’t completely safe yet. Wait, what?

There are a number of other things I could mention as unique incentives to revive the franchise, such as the 60’s/Cold War setting having gone relatively unexplored so far and the potential for over-the-top villains, but I’d just be spinning my wheels. I really want to see a NOLF 3, and I think many people would gladly play it if it were made.

That brings up the most important question, though; how would such a game be made? At the moment, Monolith is owned by Warner Bros. Interactive. I very much doubt they’re frothing at the mouth to resurrect a dormant franchise like this one, so it would be up to the fans to continuously poke the publisher and harass them into making it somehow, not that we here at OnlySP encourage destruction or blackmail… usually. Perhaps it could be done via petition, similar to Timesplitter 4. Since next-generation consoles are on the rise, perhaps it would be best to start the project there?

Whatever the case, I encourage anyone related to the franchise reading this, whether it be diehard fans or someone from Monolith or Warner Bros. themselves, to really consider this. The market is in dire need for some unique experiences with a sense of humor, and to me, nothing would patch that hole better than another No One Lives Forever. Perhaps an HD remake of the original would also suffice. Either way, I’m sure no H.A.R.M could come from it.

Michael Urban
Now an occasional contributer, Michael Urban is the former Editor-in-Chief at OnlySP and has the nickname "Breadcrab" for reasons his therapist still doesn't understand. From the moment he first got hacked in Runescape, he's been uninterested in multiplayer games and has pursued the beauty of the single-player experience, especially in terms of story and creative design.His hobbies include reading, writing, singing in the shower, pretending to be productive, and providing info and feedback regarding the games industry. It is an industry, right? You can ask him a question or send him spam at michaelurban@onlysp.escapistmagazine.com. Also, follow him on Twitter or the terrorists win. (@MichaelUrban1)

2K Unveils Bioshock Infinite’s Box Art

Previous article

State of Decay – New screenshots show off combat, surveying, and inventory

Next article

8 Comments

  1. It was and still is the best single player FPS game I&#039ve ever played and I have played practically all of them. Halo, Call Of Duty, Far Cry and Crysis can&#039t compare to the original NOLF. There was so much variety and character in this game. The designers actually used their imaginations instead of basing everything off of market research and what they thought people would like…

  2. It was and still is the best single player FPS game I've ever played and I have played practically all of them. Halo, Call Of Duty, Far Cry and Crysis can't compare to the original NOLF. There was so much variety and character in this game. The designers actually used their imaginations instead of basing everything off of market research and what they thought people would like…

  3. This is still my all time favourite game!!! I’m glad someone is still writing about it!

    My copy of The Operative for PS2 is my pride and joy out of any of the games in my massive collection. I got the Operative for the PC in 2000 when I was only 8 years old, except i hated gameplay with a mouse and keyboard. Eventually when the ps2 version came out I demanded that I had to have it. Every couple years i bring it out and play the entire game over again.
    When the release of NOLF2 was announced I was extremely excited but at that age I didn’t have a computer that was fast enough to support the game (or that was mine)…. and by the time I did acquire one, the game was to outdated to be supported on my laptop. So basically I am itching for somebody to do both an HD remake of the original games, and perhaps a brand new one to the franchise. But I would hope they keep the swingin’ 60s chic decor and Kate’s classic look… but maybe with the option to pick out some new costumes ;)
    I think that even a multiplayer Goldeneye style setting would be popular with the franchise, including groovy maps with the choice of all the outlandish characters and weapons. But hey, the market today seems to just constantly pump out boring story/dialog, and characters which have no personality or depth what so ever.

    I think that NOLF rebirth would obtain more success than people think. We all know that the video game world has always been dominated and targeted for male audiences, but we have failed so miserably at attempting to appeal to females around the world. When i was a kid I loved goldeneye and all the other popular games for “boys”, I loved video games to begin with but If I had my girlfriends over I could never coax them into playing with me, it was for boys only and I was a weirdo for it. When I got perfect dark it was a whole new experience to me that actual had meaning, and I wanted to be Joanna Dark. The girls i knew played “video games”, but games like barbies horse stable for ps1, and other really awful mindless crap. I actually rode my bike over my barbie game because I beat it in under 30 minutes..

    In this day and age the video game industry is obviously trying to take some steps to try and integrate women into gaming, because imagine how much more profit they could have made if girls were buying their products too. Clearly Kinect for xbox has attempted this by making games that teach you how to workout to ZUMBA, and other dance central fruity games. House wives and teen girls across the nations have probably already got their copy, but they wouldn’t be caught dead playing Dead Island or Halo…or any type of shooter.

    I believe that if there was more Female Antagonists that are not only badass, but stylish and quirky aswel, it would draw tons of attention and appeal to girls who want to play video games, but haven’t found that gateway title. A game that has as much detail, emotion, edgy comedy, and suspense that a movie would. NOLF hit this dead on.

    As a female gamer, I can confidently say that if it wasn’t for Cate Archer & Joanna Dark, I dont know if I would have grown up to love video games as much as I do to this day. I don’t hold back on other games, and they don’t need to have female characters for me to enjoy it.

    It’s my 21st birthday on Sunday, and I will definitely be firing up the ol’ ps2 for some memorable gaming from my youth.

    1. How is the PS2 version better than the PC version? Have you given the
      PC version a chance since you were 8 years old? I’ve played through the
      PS2 version and, after playing through the PC version it felt quite
      empty and slow in a nutshell, but read on if you want the run down and
      see what your missing in the PC version:

      The things I hated the
      most was the lack of a quick save feature and long loading times
      compared to a PC (by the way, the games still work on modern PCs). Good
      luck trying to beat Superspy difficulty without auto aim especially
      when you are falling out of the plane in “Unexpected Turbulence” (I had
      to for this part in order to beat Superspy, it seems near impossible
      without it). I also think using a mouse and keyboard is easier and
      faster to aim with. At least there are more checkpoints (broken down
      into more scenes), but this also increased the loading time.

      Another
      big thing was the lack of multiplayer, especially since it was nicely
      included in the PC version and the fact that the PS2 certainly has
      several FPS games with multiplayer. You also couldn’t use any cheat
      codes for fooling around or download mods such as fan made content.

      The
      music didn’t go as well with the game as the PC version’s music
      (especially during the later boss fights where it just sounded awkward
      and out of place), and it didn’t change based on if an enemy got
      suspicious (tense), if you were spotted or being attacked (aggressive,
      danger), or when it got calm again, which was quite nice and handy.

      You
      could not change your gear at the start of a new mission, unlike in the
      PC version, which allowed for not only more fun such as using a laser
      gun in other missions than in the “Low Earth Orbit” rocket mission (once
      you got it, of course), but also using certain gadgets in earlier
      missions than when you normally have them to obtain extra items in
      secret areas inaccessible in the PS2 version. Of course this is tied in
      to the fact that once you beat the game you can go back to any mission
      and play through it again without starting the whole game over again (in
      the PS2 version, after you beat it you are stuck repeating the final
      mission in less you start over on another save file or delete it). But
      at least the one cheat code included with this game lets you start a new
      file on any mission.

      The only things I really preferred over the
      PC version was the 3 (not 4 like the game box said) young Cate
      missions, even though they were only 1 scene a piece, short, and basic.
      Also the secret shooting area in “A Man Of Influence” when you talk
      with Baron Dumas even though there was no need to go there. But the
      Game of the Year Edition for the PC included an extra full mission (with
      multiple scenes) after the last normal mission and also some extra
      multiplayer maps to make up for their absences, but it really could and
      should have included them.

      I’d like a Nolf 3 too, but it seems
      very unlikely at this point. If there is one, don’t expect it to be
      like the PS2 version since it got bad reviews. But if you are willing
      to play these games on the PC and want another Nolf like title then you
      should get Contract Jack. It’s a spinoff of Nolf 2 with the same
      graphics, textures, and models, but it also got poor reviews due to it
      being more about mass shooting, no stealth, and a different main
      character than the traditional Nolf style content.

  4. @Amanda

    How is the PS2 version better than the PC version? Have you given the
    PC version a chance since you were 8 years old? I’ve played through the
    PS2 version and, after playing through the PC version it felt quite
    empty and slow in a nutshell, but read on if you want the run down and
    see what your missing in the PC version:

    The things I hated the most was the lack of a quick save feature and long loading times compared to a PC (by the way, the games still work on modern PCs). Good
    luck trying to beat Superspy difficulty without auto aim especially
    when you are falling out of the plane in “Unexpected Turbulence” (I had
    to for this part in order to beat Superspy, it seems near impossible
    without it). I also think using a mouse and keyboard is easier and
    faster to aim with. At least there are more checkpoints (broken down
    into more scenes), but this also increased the loading time.

    Another big thing was the lack of multiplayer, especially since it was nicely
    included in the PC version and the fact that the PS2 certainly has
    several FPS games with multiplayer. You also couldn’t use any cheat
    codes for fooling around or download mods such as fan made content.

    The music didn’t go as well with the game as the PC version’s music
    (especially during the later boss fights where it just sounded awkward
    and out of place), and it didn’t change based on if an enemy got
    suspicious (tense), if you were spotted or being attacked (aggressive,
    danger), or when it got calm again, which was quite nice and handy.

    You could not change your gear at the start of a new mission, unlike in the
    PC version, which allowed for not only more fun such as using a laser
    gun in other missions than in the “Low Earth Orbit” rocket mission (once
    you got it, of course), but also using certain gadgets in earlier
    missions than when you normally have them to obtain extra items in
    secret areas inaccessible in the PS2 version. Of course this is tied in
    to the fact that once you beat the game you can go back to any mission
    and play through it again without starting the whole game over again (in
    the PS2 version, after you beat it you are stuck repeating the final
    mission in less you start over on another save file or delete it). But
    at least the one cheat code included with this game lets you start a new
    file on any mission.

    The only things I really preferred over thePC version was the 3 (not 4 like the game box said) young Cate missions, even though they were only 1 scene a piece, short, and basic. Also the secret shooting area in “A Man Of Influence” when you talk
    with Baron Dumas even though there was no need to go there. But the
    Game of the Year Edition for the PC included an extra full mission (with
    multiple scenes) after the last normal mission and also some extra
    multiplayer maps to make up for their absences, but it really could and
    should have included them.

    I’d like a Nolf 3 too, but it seems very unlikely at this point. If there is one, don’t expect it to be like the PS2 version since it got bad reviews. But if you are willing
    to play these games on the PC and want another Nolf like title then you
    should get Contract Jack. It’s a spinoff of Nolf 2 with the same
    graphics, textures, and models, but it also got poor reviews due to it
    being more about mass shooting, no stealth, and a different main
    character than the traditional Nolf style content.

    1. Oh ive tried, when i was young i hated using the keyboard for games but much has certainly changed since then. I own the original PC version that came with the groovy music disc, but i no longer own a PC :( . The last time I played the PC version was about 2 years ago, and it was a real treat. Since then I have a Mac now so I can’t play the Operative until i get another PC.

      I tried download NOLF 2 recently and

      I use OSX lion and apparently lion is the only OS which will not support this game :| , still trying to make my way around that. Eventually ill get another PC so i can make use of my original copy of The Operative.

      I agree that the PS2 version is a hack compared to the graphics and every other aspect on the PC, the worst part is the loading times. Actually, the fact that you must replay the entire game over again in order to re-play specific level must be the worst part. The only way to get around it is by having multipul saved games for specific levels, which is a real pain in the ass.

      But hey, when i’ve got a craving for some good Cate Archer action, i can’t refuse the console version. I love this game, and the PS2 version is whats getting me by right now lol.

      What did you think of Contract Jack?

      1. Sorry I forgot about this lol. But it’s good to know you like the PC version. As for Contract Jack, I like it but you might get bored of it after awhile. There’s still some humor in it, but far less (with worse language and jokes) than in the Nolf games. You don’t get damage, accuracy, health/armor, or carrying bonuses like in Nolf 1 and 2 but there’s a few “secret areas” to get more ammo and sometimes weapons. There’s less puzzles and no intelligence items either.

        There is SO MUCH shooting involved and it’s impossible to hide from enemies. Most of them frequently spawn around a corner, out of your sight and know where you are at all times even if you run before they even “see” you. They take longer to kill and as one person put it, it seems like the first 2 levels has more enemies than in Nolf 1 and 2 combined.

  5. The original NOLF has given me more enjoyment than any other video game I have ever had. I would kill to get another, then rationalize the deed by telling myself, “well, no one lives forever…”

Comments are closed.

You may also like