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Review by: Nick Stewart
Published: November 24, 2000
As box office receipts have certainly shown, the cinematic world has an obvious love affair with spies. Between the high-glitz living, the exotic locales and the outlandish gadgets, there’s something about them that has appealed to the movie-going public for the last half-century. Naturally, the most obvious specimen would have to be the eminent James Bond, perhaps the most famous spy of them all, who has since stood as a symbol of his trade. Of course, there have also been several attempts to spoof this extravagant and often cliché-ridden genre, including Our Man Flint and its campy ilk. This trend has recently been revived with the arrival of the incredibly popular Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and its sequel, which not only skewered many of the laughable Bond conventions, but also returned to the wild colors, “cut loose, hang out” attitude and unique atmosphere of the swingin’ sixties. Although such titles as Metal Gear Solid have made serious attempts at the espionage scene, few have taken a more laid-back attitude such as the Powers series; that is, until now. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Monolith has put forth the kitschy, campy, ’60s-themed No One Lives Forever, an obvious spin on the Powers mythos, with one particularly distinct twist: a female protagonist.
Fleshing out No One Lives Forever‘s orange-and-white leather jumpsuit is The Operative, better known as Cate Archer, an employee of the top-secret global protection agency known as UNITY. A former professional thief, Archer hooked up with this group in hopes of joining its battle against the mad scientists and would-be global dictators hell-bent on conquering the world; instead, she’s ended up a victim of sexual politics, and has been relegated to menial busywork. Frustrated and feeling more than a little betrayed, Archer finally finds her chance at the “big time” in the unfortunate form of a calamity. Intent on reaching heights of his own, the infamous Dmitri Volkov has not only assassinated more than half of UNITY’s active operative roster, but his own evil organization, known as H.A.R.M., has managed to develop a deadly chemical agent. When administered to a human host, this organic injection is capable of turning its carrier into a walking time bomb, capable of destroying thousands and even possibly millions in a terrible chain-reaction of explosive death. With half their crew dead and the other half chasing after other megalomaniacs, UNITY has no choice but to put aside their aversion to “women taking care of business” and allow Archer to try her hand at some in-the-field action and subterfuge.
Split into 15 different levels with at least three missions apiece, No One Lives Forever has a real variety of goals for Archer to attain. Though she begins with what is a seemingly simple mission to protect and escort the American ambassador in Morocco, she gradually works her way through a great number of different situations that put her though almost every classic spy convention imaginable. Including the infiltration of a megacorporation’s HQ, intelligence gathering, employee extraction, search, rescue, and much more — there isn’t a whole lot that Archer isn’t asked to do. Being an able spy and a former thief, however, she’s left with several different choices on how to handle herself. On one hand, she can reach into UNITY’s considerable arsenal to leap into the bulk of her do-as-you-please missions with guns blazing. On the other hand, she’s also capable of accessing UNITY’s scientists and gadgetry designers, known as Santa and the Toymakers, in order to sneak, creep, and generally use spy tactics to work her way through to a given goal. Though certain missions will demand that you maintain a low profile and a solid cover, you’ll usually be allowed to indulge your trigger finger should you so desire.
Meting out justice and the safety for all can often mean getting your feet wet, and — lucky for you — UNITY is no slouch in the weapons department. Just about everything has been included, from good ol’ .38 revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, to sub-machine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, and even a crossbow, leaving you with more than enough of an arsenal to choose from. You’re even allowed to carry several different types of ammunition; while the standard full-metal jacket might do the trick, you might find that you’ll need dum-dum ammo to pack an extra punch against standard grunts, or even the cyanide-tipped bullets to drag it out that much longer. Still, any garden-variety evil terrorist can somehow obtain such items; what sets you apart from them is the addition of such tools as silencers and scopes that can be added to give you that extra edge of quietness or range. Given, each of these weapons is gradually introduced as the game gradually unfolds, but you’re still allowed a fairly wide berth when deciding what to take with you on your upcoming mission.
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