No One Lives Forever
November 9th 2000: as the first year of the new millennium came to an end, Monolith Productions, who would go on to garner fame with the Condemned and F.E.A.R series, released The Operative: No One Lives Forever.
A whimsical 60’s spy adventure starring British accents, villains with the whole world in their sights and a female protagonist by the name of Cate Archer. NOLF was a joyous comedic romp through the world of international espionage, clearly inspired by the well known Austin Powers series of films. As a parody of the 60s spy genre, NOLF was brilliant. As a game released to a world where Deus Ex had already made waves 5 months before, it accomplished the impossible and managed to be absolutely fantastic.
Shooting doors has never been so fun, ignore those two men with guns.
Early on in its development, the team at Monolith intended to make a straight faced spy game with a male protagonist. But with the threat of legal action from James Bond holders MGM, the studio was forced to change their protagonist, who MGM felt strayed too close to a rip off of their very own Bond. Thus the course of this game was changed forever, what was planned as a serious, dramatic spy thriller became the Austin Powers-esque gaming comedic masterpiece.
NOLF belongs to that fantastic set of games, alongside Deus Ex and Half Life, which were known for their complexity, open-endedness, difficulty and length. NOLF is as much a masterpiece as Deus Ex or Half Life, and it is something you couldn’t imagine being released in 2011, for the simple fact that it wasn’t your mere 6 hour corridor shooter.
It can look a little dated, but not here.
NOLF lives on in infamy primarily thanks to the comedy factor, genuinely funny dialogue was written and the NPC conversations which you could listen in on were a testament to the abilities of the team, at Monolith, to make you laugh. The game was long as well, with a wide variety of locations such as Morocco and Germany, combined with fantastic stealth and action game play, NOLF was a winner.
By 2011’s standards, NOLF looks massively dated, but one of the great things about PC gaming is the extensive catalogue of games available, regardless of how fancy they look. From the scores of fun and often zany gadgets, to the hilarious NPC dialogue and quick witted story, NOLF was successful enough to spawn a sequel in 2002, titled No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M’s Way. Today Monolith is best known for developing F.E.A.R and Condemned, but to those who know of NOLF, it is clear that Monolith isn’t just a place for serious horror style games. If you can find NOLF online or in your local store, pick it up. You won’t regret it.