E3 2002: No One Lives Forever 2 impressions
We were swept away by Monolith's demonstration of this first-person shooter.
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Fox Interactive and Monolith Studios had the latest build of No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way at the show floor, and we were certainly impressed with what we saw of it. On hand to give us a demonstration of the game was lead designer Craig Hubbard.
Hubbard started the demo by showing off a level that takes place in a snowy Siberia. We saw Cate Archer, the game's heroine, sneak up to a shack where a few Russian soldiers were sleeping and performing menial tasks, unaware of her presence. Cate slowly made her way around the shack to the front door and quickly dispatched one of the soldiers with her tranquilizer gun. She then picked up the soldier's AK-47 and used it to take out the remaining sentries still in the hut.
Hubbard showed off many of NOLF 2's interactive features, such as shooting out windows, turning over furniture, and causing fire extinguishers to explode. The game will also present you with multiple options to reach the same goal. For instance, you can turn off a light in a room by simply flipping the proper switch, shooting the bulb out entirely, or unscrewing it altogether. You'll also be able to open desk drawers, file cabinets, and kitchen cupboards to search for hidden files and other important items. Additionally, you'll be able to see Cate actually flip through individual file folders while looking for top-secret documents in somebody's desk. This might seem like a trivial addition, but Hubbard points out that this simple process will require a few seconds to complete--seconds that will add a sense of urgency to many of the missions, which was something that he felt was lacking in the original NOLF.
Another interesting feature in NOLF 2 is the enhanced stealth gameplay. As in the Thief games, Cate can hide in the shadows, and a prominent "H" will appear on the screen when she is properly hidden away. Hubbard also said that his team learned a lesson from the original NOLF and that stealth missions won't be nearly as frustrating as they were in the first game. He added that stealth missions in NOLF 2 will be similar to those in the Metal Gear Solid games--if you're spotted, you still have the ability to run away or fight if you've been submitted.
Hubbard went on to show us another mission that takes place at UNITY's headquarters--as it was being overrun by mime assassins. Cate used a variety of weapons and gadgets--such as bananas and a compact with the ability to decode encrypted software--to subdue these French brutes. The most impressive part of the demo, however, was when Hubbard loaded up the Ohio level. Yes, like all daring international spies, Cate will travel the world and see such exotic locations like Akron, Ohio. All humor aside, this level was one that had to be seen to be appreciated. Cate was fending off a score of high-flying female ninjas in the middle of a trailer park that was in the direct path of an angry tornado. As the massive funnel cloud approaches the trailer park, everything around Cate starts to shake violently, and soon the air is filled with swirling debris. The powerful wind uprooted fences, and once harmless pickets became deadly spears--cars, trees, and trailers were all pockmarked with the flying wooden posts. Soon, even entire trailers were being lifted up and flung around like rag dolls. Cate has to dispatch all the ninjas before the tornado hits the park--or else it's game over.
That level is actually a prelude to a boss fight. The demo came to a close with Cate chasing an enemy into a house right before the tornado sweeps through the picture. A short cinematic reveals the house being uprooted from its foundation, which probably means that the ensuing boss fight will take place within the airborne house. We're not in Kansas anymore...
According to Hubbard, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way is on schedule for release sometime in the fall. The game will eschew the multiplayer modes that were featured in the original game in favor of a more compelling cooperative mode. Up to four players can play through a campaign that's unique from the single-player game cooperatively. Hubbard said that the identities of the three other characters in this cooperative mode are a big mystery, though rest assured that we're on the case. We'll have more on NOLF 2 very soon. In the meantime, be sure to read our