Developer: Monolith Publisher: Fox Interactive
Even after over a year on the shelf, Monolith\'s No One Lives Forever stands strong as one of the most enjoyable FPS ever made. When you mix 007, Austin Powers, Emma Peel, and add a dash of Agent 99, what you get is the fantastically beautiful, lethally cunning, and downright enigmatic Cate Archer, who holds the fate of the world in her hands. Just try to keep your hands to yourselves, guys. Most will be able to catch the movie references literally strewn throughout the game, many of which taking a queue from the James Bond franchise. The magic of this title stems from its gameplay root being firmly planted in the methodology that made such legendary titles as Half-Life such a success. There are grandiose cinematics mixed in with the hyper-kinetic action going on, and, as a welcome surprise, they are startlingly well done. Yes, the plotlines and story points of the game will intrigue you almost as much as the gameplay does, and you are bound to be obsessed with advancing to the next level just to find out what happens. For instance, there definitely seems to be a \'Bogie & Bacall\' thing going on between Cate and just about any male she comes across, with the dry, rapier wit and stunning repartee kicking in at full throttle. Explaining this in particulars would probably both lose something in the translation and ruin the surprise for the player, so there won\'t be much detail presented here. However, bear in mind that Cate loves to deliver a double whammy to her opposition, so she generally delivers verbal stings before blowing away her adversary. Yes, as one might assume, players assume the role of Cate herself, who is UNITY?s best secret agent (with a 1960\'s-ish setting ala Austin Powers). Like the Bond films, UNITY also has a nemesis organization by the name of H.A.R.M., and, as you would also assume, it is up to Cate to rid the world of their diabolical schemes, one mission at a time. Graphically, the game is gorgeous (although it is just starting to show its age), with the Lithtech game engine being pushed to its limit. The character textures and animation are stunning at times (expect a lot of the psychedelic colors the 1960s are known for), and the whole package is stunningly beautiful overall. The character\'s faces actually seem to convey emotion at times? the eyes blink, the eyebrows raise, etc. Although some of the character designs themselves are wildly over-the-top in terms of reality, this is not exactly what one would come to this title for, is it? If you want real physical accuracy, play Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. If you want over-the-top fun and intense action with a gorgeous hero, No One Lives Forever is for you. The title has been such a success, in fact, that by the time anyone reads this review it should have been announced that the game is being ported to the major console systems as well. The audio is of an excellent quality as well. There is 3D positional audio, and a trippy 60\'s score. The sound effects of the weaponry (and the havoc they can induce) is spot on and thrilling. In both the graphics and sound area, the game excels beautifully. The game offers paths of both direct violence or the stealthy approach. For those concerned with the level of violence that may be present in the game, in most cases the player can choose from what angle they wish to approach a mission. The game rewards players for taking indirect, non-violent approaches, but does not penalize for screaming through the game with a non-stop bullet fest. The game is rated for teens, so even at full tilt there is no really graphic violence. (After all, this is not Soldier of Fortune.) Most of the violence is tongue-in-cheek, campy, and over-the-top? like a Vincent Price horror film would be. The weaponry, the items that are the main thrust of all FPS, is varied and exactly what you would expect in a \'secret agent\' game. Players will find pistols, machine guns, and sniper rifles to be among the more common choices, and laser guns, briefcase rocket launchers, lipstick explosives, killer robotic poodles, and lockpicking barrettes among the more \'fictional\' choices. The AI of the enemies has also been tweaked to a point of near perfection, and they do react realistically to what is going on around them. They run, duck, hide, and use corners for cover. If there?s no immediate cover present, they even knock over tables or use anything that may be on hand? truly exciting. Ever since Goldeneye for the N64, FPS fans have been clamoring for decent AI in their titles, and this title definitely answers, and delivers. Cate will find herself traipsing all over the world (and even into orbit) to thwart the plans of the enemy, ending up in such diverse locales as Germany, Morocco, Caribbean, large ships and under water, and even outer space. The single-player experience is where the game shines here, as the multiplayer seems like, well, an afterthought. That is not to say that it is bad by any means, it is just simply well, lackluster. There are deathmatch modes and HARM vs UNITY modes, but out of the box there?s not much there. It is recommended that players download all the updates (multiplayer maps, patches, etc.) from the website (some have reported lag trouble when using a straight out-of-the-box version) at http://www.noonelivesforever.com. Overall, the game is a blast to play on so many levels. It\'s a beautiful title that doesn\'t insult your intelligence (some of the jokes are really esoteric, but when you get them you feel extra special), or your trust with your dollars. Whether you get your hands on the PC title, or wait for one of the upcoming console versions, the game is fast and furious treat that should not be missed by any gamer. The system requirements are: Win95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, MacOS 9.1 ? 300Mhz, 64Mgs RAM, 128MB Mac, 400MB HD Space, 100MB for Mac, 4X CD-ROM, 8MB 3D accelerator card, 16-Bit Sound Card.

Final Ratings

Game Play: A Graphics: A Sound: A Interface: B Stability: B Offensive Content: C
(Dialogue and gags full of sexual double entendre (like Austin Powers), and the endemic violence of a FPS

Overall: A-

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Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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