An intriguing story and charmingly goofy gameplay make NOLF a success on every level.

User Rating: 9.5 | The Operative: No One Lives Forever Game of the Year Edition PC
The Operative: No One Lives Forever is an excellent example of why story driven games always end up being the most rewarding. It's not necessarily the gameplay that makes NOLF such a great game (though it's certainly very entertaining), but rather the excellent delivery of an amazing story, one that's filled with intrigues, betrayals, hilarity, emotiveness, and plenty of tongue in cheek moments, a story that in essence is THE reason to play this game. Despite being more than 7 years old, NOLF ends up being an incredibly rewarding game for virtually anyone with a pulse, one that has certainly passed the test of time.

NOLF tells the story of Cate Archer, a british woman that had a rough childhood and decided to follow a questionable path to get through with life. Along the way she gets involved with a spy organization called UNITY and in the wake of an internal crisis that sees most of UNITY's agents killed, Cate is called to fulfill a daring mission against an organization called H.A.R.M., who is hellbent on wreaking havoc across the planet. Things don't start too well for Cate and she will have to prove herself against those who doubt her abilities. From there on, the story in NOLF is filled with plenty of plot twists, some of them so shocking that I'll stop giving any more details right here, in order to avoid any potential spoilers. Suffice to say, NOLF is a game you'd want to play without knowing a single thing about what's gonna happen next, because it's that desire to know what's gonna happen next that will keep you motivated and on the edge of your seat through the entire game.

One thing that can be mentioned though, is that NOLF is filled with humor all the way. You'll encounter countless funny conversations taking place between guards, doctors, engineers, civilians, etc., that really spruce up the good natured feel of the game. One of the best conversations is in the very first level, and all I'll say is "you look like you need a monkey!"...

The humor is also found in the dialogue during the cutscenes, the intelligence items you collect through the game, as well as some hilarious moments that occur throughout the unfolding of events of the game (pay close attention to the conclusion of the parachute scene...). It's not easy for a game to succeed at being genuinely funny, but NOLF manages to do just that.

Also worth mentioning, is that you can alter some of the dialogue in NOLF, which is the case during the interactive cutscenes. In most cases you can't go wrong with whatever line you choose, but you'll occasionally net a few extra intelligence items by choosing certain lines and it's always funny to ignite some anger by choosing a "rude" answer.

Leaving the story aside for a second, it should be said that the presentation in NOLF is stellar. The graphics are obviously showing their age from a technical standpoint, but the artistic direction behind them is brilliant. The 60's feel is perfectly captured and it's easy to fully immerse yourself in such detailed levels as the ones in NOLF.

And then there's the sound. Be it the voice acting or the audio effects, soundwise NOLF is simply as good as it gets. The voice acting is simply terrific. It's believable, funny, and just downright memorable. It plays a very important role in elevating the story of the game. And the soundtrack is also incredible. Every tune that plays perfectly fits the scenario you're in, and just like the visuals, it contributes to creating that perfect 60's atmosphere.

To this point I haven't even mentioned the gameplay and that's not because it's lacking, but simply because the story and the presentation steal the show. But the gameplay in NOLF is certainly great. For the most part, this is a shooter that rewards a stealthy approach and you'll constantly rely on your silenced pistols or other gadgets at dispose to take out enemies. You'll have to keep an eye on cameras or patrolling guards before jumping in on the action. But if you feel like it, you can straight lit up the place with your entire arsenal, mowing down anything in your path. However, some missions will require that you remain stealthy, so it's always best to use a combination of stealth and aggression. The enemy AI is great, as you'll rarely catch a guard doing something flat out stupid. It's not necessarily challenging, but the AI doesn't deter from the suspense of disbelief at all.

No One Lives Forever is a game that totally blew me away. I have always made a case for story driven games and this is one game that proves that the "games and good stories don't mix" theory is completely wrong. With an amazing story, memorable characters, spectacular presentation, and satisfying gameplay, No One Lives Forever is nothing short of gaming nirvana.