Contemporary shooters, such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, generally strive to present a gritty world full of dirt and dead bodies. A few others, like Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, offer a different experience full of color and bad puns. However, most shooter fans will be shocked with the fun and hilarity of No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way. The sniping, killing, missions, and tension of a good shooter are all here, as well as a strong stealth system, but NOLF 2's levity surprises.
British super-spy Cate Archer -- obviously inspired by the Austin Powers movies -- is surrounded by buffoons, a Mime King, deadly traps, "super-soldiers," and an arch-enemy with an overbearing mother. Cate's bravado, put-downs, sneaking, and sharp-shooting are a match for everything she encounters, but players will have to be sneaky. NOLF 2 levels frequently have multiple ways to complete objectives: an obvious "shoot everyone" solution (which generally only works on the easiest setting), and a covert alternative. Fans of the Metal Gear series will be familiar with NOLF 2's stealth aspects, which included calculating lines of sight, staying in the shadows, and causing distractions. Guards have set patrol paths, but will intelligently investigate noises, tracks in the snow, and anything suspicious. Unfortunately, their predictable hesitation whenever they find a fallen comrade allows players to easily snipe them almost every time.
NOLF 2's huge levels and intricate design are impressive. Cate will ride snowmobiles, investigate an Antarctic base, and explore Calcutta. The snowmobiles are an interesting addition, and necessary because of the level's immense scope. Sadly, the snowmobile control is abysmal, though the game is forgiving for every jump (otherwise it would be a nightmare). Cate's weapons include the standard silenced pistol, ala Bond, powerful though inaccurate Soviet assault rifles, and assorted explosives. One of the more inventive bombs is a "walking kitty" which, when deployed, supposedly fools enemies until "it's too late." Exactly what fools them -- it's a glittering metallic cat -- is a mystery, but it's good fun nevertheless. Other everyday items, like bananas and coins, are utilized and Cate has a whole collection of wacky sci-fi gadgets as well.
One significant change from the first NOLF is the character development screen; players collect skill points as they complete missions, then spend them to improve Cate's attributes. Upgrade her carrying skill, for example, and Cate can carry more ammunition for weapons. Upgrade marksmanship, and burst firing accuracy improves. It's possible to complete the game without upgrading anything, but it's fun to collect skill points and selectively upgrade Cate's abilities.
NOLF 2's humor manages to keep players interested and laughing throughout the game. Even if the game's funniest lines are ignored, however, NOLF 2 offers solid gameplay, a good ridiculous story, and detailed levels. Most importantly, NOLF 2 never takes itself too seriously. You'll be battling ninja's in an Ohio trailer park while a tornado approaches, avoiding neon super-soldier death rays, slaughtering mimes, and experiencing other outlandish predicaments. Sometimes the jokes fall flat, but the consistently zany atmosphere is a welcome relief from the dreary realism of most other contemporary shooters.
Graphics: Impressive, but nothing that hasn't been done before. The colorful levels are fun to explore; eye movements are particularly well done.
Sound: NOLF 2's sound is impressive; the zany soundtrack and voice acting enhance the game's considerable humor.
Enjoyment: Loads of shooting fun, laughs, tough enemies, tricky levels, and weapons. The plot, gameplay, characters, levels, and challenges are all well done.
Replay Value: Since the jokes are only funny once or twice, players probably won't want to complete the single-player missions again. A cooperative multiplayer mode adds additional gameplay, however.
People who downloaded No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way have also downloaded:
No One Lives Forever, Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix, Max Payne, Contract J.A.C.K., Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Soldier of Fortune, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Halo: Combat Evolved
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