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Splinter Cell
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No One Lives Forever
Archer, Cate ArcherThe game may no longer be brand-new and has been on the shelves since the turn of the year, but that doesn't diminish the game's quality in the least. Far from it, Cate Archer hasn't lost anything of her charm so far. Although her name is not 007, rest assured that she's as cool, as charming and as cunning as James Bond himself - if not better. A name to be remembered, therefore, since the surprises good Cate has up her sleeve in Monolith's latest action shooter are currently unparalleled in the 3D action genre. And although the game's sales figures have been regrettably low, developer Monolith intends to publish No One Lives Forever 2. But first things first...
MoroccoEven though the graphics cannot set a new benchmark, they were created with a love for detail. And you can enjoy the nice textures, lighting effects and smoothly animated enemies with only 500 MHz of CPU speed. Physical correctness gives the gaming world an air of credibility - e.g. objects roll down rises and enemies fall down from balconies. The developers paid particular attention to the cool cutscenes shown directly in the 3D engine - the movie-like acting characters along with the professional voice-overs (at least in the English version) deftly convey the atmosphere of agent movies of the 1970s.
Agents die alone:
Berlin at nightCate Archer is a far cry from the classic agent-type character - after all, the fact that she's a woman doesn't sit well with her conservative superiors. However, they have little choice but to trust in her skills: after several agents of the British Secret Service have been assassinated, the Service is lacking apt agent personnel. The mysterious organisation H.A.R.M. as well as a sturdy female opera singer from Germany, a tough Scotsman and an unscrupulous Russian seem to be involved in the matter. It's up to Cate now, to gather information on the murders and their potential killers in her best agent manner. The player will learn early on that it won't be an easy task to accomplish...
Mission: Impossible!
Code deciphererBut what No One Lives Forever makes so extraordinary, are the riveting and innovative missions as well as the crazy agent tools. Similar to James Bond, you begin every mission with a training course to get used to the scientists's latest inventions. While you start off with a barrette that helps opening locks or poison enemies, later on you'll be equipped, among other things, with some sunglasses with an integrated camera, a perfume flask for numbing purposes, a lip-stick turned bomb or an electronic poodle that detracts watchdogs. Naturally the designers have thought of situations in which you require all these devices.
But you also have to make use of "real" weapons. Right in the first mission, for example, you have to prevent encroaching assassins from killing an American diplomat by making ample use of your sniper rifle. But Cate isn't the Duke - shooting like a madman won't take you anywhere. Far from it, in many levels you have to behave inconspicuously in order to avoid detection through the surveillance cameras. Therefore, you come to appreciate the worth of your silencer (or later your crossbow!). Besides this, it's important to dispatch enemies quickly and silently. Depending on the body zone you've hit, the enemies goes down crying, thus alarming reinforcements. Killed foes can also be vaporised (!).

Demo version




very good

very good

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Pros & cons:
The baron's villaBeing James Bond once is no longer impossible. Whether you gather intelligence items, visit locations like East Berlin or Morocco, fight on board an airplane followed by a spectacular jump scene, dive through a submerged freighter, or make your way through vast store rooms or winding alleys - the life of a secret agent has never been staged as ingeniously and atmospherically as in No One Lives Forever. The story drives you on and surprises with some unexpected twists and turns. And what's most important - you are not rewarded for firing yourself senseless but for approaching with prudence and decent use of weapons. No need to say that the cool agent paraphernalia are a class of their own.
Actually I've found almost no fault with No One Lives Forever. Admittedly, it's no full-blown action shooter in the traditional sense, and sometimes you can only accomplish a task by mere guessing what to do. Also the puzzles aren't overly tricky, it's much more difficult to sneak through the levels undetected. But all in all, these are petty details that cannot curb the fun playing the game. In my opinion, Monolith's action and tactics shooter is the best single player game since Half-Life, while friends of multiplayer matches aren't neglected either. As the low budget version of the first installment is likely to be published soon, it won't be too hard to wait for the highly anticipated second installment.
© 06-02-2001 by CE