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No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way is a first-person shooter developed by Monolith and released for the PC in 2002. It offered a number of improvements over the original game and cast the player in the role of a secret agent battling against an evil organisation across various exotic locations throughout the world.
The involving single player storyline offered a comedic take on the world of James Bond and was packed with action. The game was very successful on release with terrific characters and environments and great game-play.
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The game features standard first-person shooter controls and casts the player in the role of Cate Archer. The storyline follows on from the first game and sees H.A.R.M. working together with the Soviets. The player embarks on a series of missions to spoil their plans and save the world. Missions are introduced with short cut scenes and the most charming aspect of this game is the campy humour. There are lots of good visual gags, some wacky gadgets and some comical voiceover work which reveals what baddie henchmen really think of their job.
The game can be approached in different ways according to your preference. The stealth approach relies upon sneaking and avoiding tripping alarms which will cause more henchmen to arrive. The ability to lean round corners for a peak was added to aid this approach. Of course if you are impatient like me then you’ll still find you can work your way through the game by wading into each situation and taking the bad guys out.
In order to assist you in your quest the developers have provided a huge range of gadgetry. The design of the gadgets is excellent and in addition to weapons there are defensive items and surveillance aids. You can use lock picks, acid, spy glasses, camera disablers, code breakers and even a robotic poodle to throw guard dogs off your scent. Even the weaponry is in keeping with the spy style and you can emit gas that kills, stuns or sends you opponents to sleep via a perfume sprayer. You are also equipped with exploding lipstick and bear traps or banana peels are perfect for escaping pursuers. As if all that wasn’t enough you have a range of conventional weaponry to use from throwing stars to AK-47’s.
The level design is fantastic and generally allows for a range of approaches. The enemy AI also provide a good challenge and will respond to sounds, footsteps and cries from their comrades. It is also important to hide the bodies of the baddies that you kill, because if another guard finds one, they will raise the alarm.
There are a range of bonus tasks and objects to find in each level and you are awarded skill points for completing objectives which allow you to improve your character. The story line is engaging and fun and the single player game provides an excellent adventure with 15 chapters spread across an impressive 40 levels.
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The game is an impressive feat visually and while the engine may be getting a bit dated now the layout and visual look of the characters and environments is nothing short of excellent. Drawing on the spy style of the 60’s each environment is beautifully modelled and the cast of characters are comical stylised spy clichés. There are also a wide range of animations in the game and they are done with touches of humour which really add to the overall effect. The textures are bump mapped and detailed and even the water looks good.
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The focus with NOLF2 is undoubtedly on the engaging single player adventure but the developers did include a co-operative mode which allows you to play as a team with up to three mates. They later released a patch with a number of multiplayer modes including deathmatch, team deathmatch and doomsday. The range of weaponry and gadgets make this a fun title to play online. It won’t keep you coming back for more but it makes a big change from the endless glut of war themed multiplayer FPS’s and if you fancy something different it is worth a try.
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You’ll want a reasonably decent system to take full advantage of this title. Minimum specs are a 500MHz processor, 256MB RAM, DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card and a DirectX 8.1 compatible video card. You’ll also need about 1.5GB of hard drive space for the install. Playing on the lowest spec the game has a few problems especially in multiplayer so it would be best to use a slightly better system.
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NOLF 2 is a fantastic game and yet despite great reviews and general acclaim it failed to draw in the audience it really deserved. The designers did a fantastic job with this and really let their imagination run free with the gadget and weapon design which is refreshingly different to the vast majority of first-person shooters. The level design is similarly well handled and visually speaking the game still holds it’s own. The characters and voice over work elevate it to a different level and the quality of the humour is rare especially in this genre. If you managed to miss this first time around it is worth a look and there is plenty of game-play here to keep you engaged for quite a few enjoyable hours.