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The Operative: No One Lives Forever

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The Operative: No One Lives Forever (commonly shortened to No One Lives Forever, abbreviated NOLF) is a first-person shooter video game with stealth gameplay elements, developed by Monolith Productions and published by Fox Interactive, released for Windows in 2000. Set in the 1960s, No One Lives Forever has been critically acclaimed for, among other things, its stylistic representation of the era in the spirit of many espionage-themed films and television series of that decade, as well as for its prevalent use of humor.

The game has received several Game of the Year (GOTY) awards in the video game press, which lead to the release of a Game of the Year Edition in 2001, published by Sierra Entertainment and Fox Interactive, that includes an exclusive mission otherwise not available in the original game.[2] In 2002, MacPlay published a Mac OS port of the original game, and later its GOTY version. Also in 2002, NOLF was ported to the PlayStation 2 (published by Sierra and Fox, again); this version included some flashback levels not available in other releases of the game.

The video game is the first title in the No One Lives Forever series of games, having been followed by a sequel entitled No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy In H.A.R.M.'s Way, released in 2002, and an interquel, Contract J.A.C.K., in 2003; both developed by Monolith.

Overview

The Operative: No One Lives Forever was published in 2000, and stars female protagonist and spy Cate Archer. The game is a mixture of a first-person shooter and a first-person sneaker: most (but not all) missions can be solved in multiple ways: using sneaking to avoid danger, using gadgets, or by going in with guns blazing.

The basic plot of the game is that a secret organization, UNITY, watches over world peace. Seven UNITY agents are murdered within a week, leaving UNITY with a critical manpower shortage. In response, Cate Archer (an ex-cat burglar) is given a role as field agent to try to discover the cause of the agent assassinations. All roads lead to a new terrorist organization named H.A.R.M., run by a colorful assortment of characters intent on destroying the free world.

The game is set in the 1960s, and includes a lot of humor: resembling a mixture of Austin Powers and James Bond with the lead character echoing Modesty Blaise, or Emma Peel from The Avengers. The player is able to scuba dive a shipwreck, freefall from an airplane and explore a space station in zero gravity, all the while fighting armed villains.

File:NOLF.jpg

A novel feature of the game is its array of gadgets, including a body-removing powder (for disposing of incriminating corpses), lock picks, and an electronic poodle to distract guard dogs. Additionally, the missions are littered with "intelligence items": briefcases, envelopes, and manilla folders containing textual notes which often provide humorous side-notes to the game, as well as overheard conversations between guards or scientists (the truth about the failure of the Ford Edsel, for example). Points awarded from intelligence items could gain certain awards at the end of the mission that would add up for bonuses. For example the 'Thanks For Not Getting Hurt' Award allowed a 10% increase in maximum health – up to a limit of 120%. Such bonuses were available for health, armor, ammo capacity, damage, accuracy, and reputation. The reputation awards are earned by choosing the 'nice' responses in dialogue trees (although it is uncertain what benefits the reputation bonuses confer).

The game is also notable for its use of sound: not only are enemies aware of noise made by the player, but the game features 1960s-style music, which flexibly adapts to the situations that players finds themselves in, similar to that of movie soundtracks (for instance, increasing in tempo or urgency when the player is in a combat situation).

The game won several Game of the Year awards, including ones from Computer Games Magazine, Computer Gaming World, PC Gamer, and Gamespy.

  • In 2001, No One Lives Forever appeared in a Game of the Year (GOTY) version, with one additional single player mission which was not made available to those who bought the original. The GOTY version also includes more multiplayer arenas.
  • In 2002, NOLF was ported to the PlayStation 2 video game console, complete with extra missions not available for the PC version. This port also included the extra GOTY mission. One of the other extra missions was a prequel to NOLF, with Cate Archer as a thief in the days before her recruitment by UNITY.

Development

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Work on No One Lives Forever started in 1998, after the release of Monolith Productions' previous game, Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.[3] Craig Hubbard, game designer for both games expressed that Shogo "(although critically successful) fell embarrassingly short of [the team's] original design goals," and "it is a grim reminder of the perils of wild optimism and unchecked ambition" exercised by the relatively small development team.[3] The team (which included approximately 18 core members during development of NOLF)[3] was determined not to make the same mistakes again with their next game.[3]

Signing a contract with a publisher was a very difficult task for Monolith. The project has been green-lighted by different publishers four times, before they were able to actually sign a deal with one.[3] During this long time for finding a publishing partner, No One Lives Forever "mutated constantly in order to please prospective producers and marketing departments. The game actually started off as a mission-based, anime-inspired, paramilitary action thriller intended as a spiritual sequel to Shogo and ended up as a 60s spy adventure in the tradition of Our Man Flint and countless other 60s spy movies and shows." [3] This final theme for the game was settled on through discussions with Fox Interactive, the final publisher of NOLF.[4] However, development has been going on for months before the Fox partnership – announced on August 24, 1999[5] – happened.[3] (Parts of the initial "paramilitary action thriller" concept evolved into F.E.A.R., another Monolith game, released after the NOLF series, in 2005.)[6] Monolith's producer for the game, Samantha Ryan said that before the deal was signed, "There was a period where Monolith was two weeks from death. And Jason ["Jace" Hall, CEO and co-founder of Monolith] closed the deal with Fox Interactive that basically saved the company."[7]

After finally signing a contract with Fox, the team was able to draft a mission statement, which stood as a point of reference during every aspect of developing the game.[3]

"Our primary aim was to make the player feel like the hero of a 60s action/adventure/espionage movie. We came up with a list of the characteristics we felt were necessary to achieve our objective. The game must have a strong narrative, with twists and turns in the spirit of Charade or Where Eagles Dare. It must feature a fiercely competent hero and an assortment of despicable villains. The hero must have access to an impressive arsenal of weapons and gadgets worthy of Our Man Flint, Danger: Diabolik, or Get Smart. There must be memorable, death-defying situations, opportunities for stealth as well as all-out action, and a variety of exotic locales to explore. Finally, every aspect of the presentation must convincingly evoke the era."
~ Craig Hubbard, game designer[3]
File:Early NOLF screenshot.jpg

Early press previews and screenshots of the game, as well as demonstrations at the 1999 E3 conference show significant changes from the finished product.[8][9] While at this time, as described in the mission statement above, the game was already set out to be a spy-themed shooter set in the '60s, there are many differences with regard to characters, plot and setting.[8] The game's protagonist was originally set out to be a male character, called Adam Church, who worked for MI0, Her Majesty's Most Secret Service.[9][10] However, many of the final gameplay and story elements are known to have been present in this earlier iteration of the game: the H.A.R.M. organization; the defection of an East German biophysicist for information about a top-secret Soviet weapons program; the presence of humor in the game; some locations, such as the sunken cargo freighter; the use of gadgets, such as the rocket launching briefcase; etc.[9][10] In August 1999, Craig Hubbard announced the introduction of many major changes done in the preceding months. One of the main reasons for reworking many elements of the game was that the gaming press unexpectedly started comparing the game to James Bond games title, like GoldenEye 007. Hubbard mentioned that their intention was to "make a 60s spy game", and that they "didn't want to make a 'Bond' style game, so when people were obviously drawing that comparison, we decided to rework things a bit. We wanted to get away from the Bond comparisons that people were making, so we've changed the main character and the back-story a fair amount."[8] As a result, the player controls a female protagonist in the final game, Cate Archer, who works for an organization called UNITY.

Around August 1999 it was revealed that the title No One Lives Forever was actually just a working title, with many outlets dubbing it "the game formerly known as No One Lives Forever," or even "TGFKANOLF."[5][8] "The title, actually, was never final," said Hubbard at the time, adding that "No One Lives Forever was one of those internal working titles that just stuck, so when it came to trademarking the title, we didn't ever look to do that."[8] However, the No One Lives Forever title, in fact, stayed throughout the development, and The Operative, (referring to the game's heroine, Cate Archer) was added to the beginning of the title. This prefix was not used in the titles of the other two games in the NOLF series, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way and Contract J.A.C.K. (although the working title for NOLF2 was, at one point, The Operative 2).[11]

In an essay published after the game's release, Hubbard identifies the aforementioned mission statement as a strong point of the game's development, along with the flexible systems used in development, the cohesion of the team, effective scheduling, and realistic expectations.[3] On the other hand, Hubbard cites difficulties in fleshing out the final team, inefficient pre-production, waiting on technology, and the aforementioned difficulties in finding a publisher.[3] Hubbard also mentions the cinematic cutscenes as problematic, partly because of technical difficulties, and partly because of conceptual flaws on his behalf, with regard to screenwriting.[3]

Source code

The source code for the game engine version 1.003 was released by Monolith Productions[1] to "support the fan base by offering the tools to create their own levels and keep them current with the code base Monolith is using to author its latest creations". It is available both as a download[12] and on the Game of the Year Edition[2] CD.

To build the NOLF source v1.003 one will need the following:

  • 400MB free disk space

Soundtrack

  1. DATA – 39:40
  2. Goodman's Surprise – 02:24
  3. Santa's Workshop – 02:39
  4. Be-boppin' Shoo-woppin' Along – 02:43
  5. The Operative – 03:41
  6. Elevator of Love – 02:57
  7. No One Grooves Forever – 03:11
  8. Suisse Chalet – 03:34
  9. UNITY's Spy – 02:59
  10. Unknown – 02:42
  11. El Dorado (Archie Thompson) – 02:41
  12. Void (Red Delicious) – 03:54

Best Buy Exclusive

Bonus CD features a modern, contemporary remix of the "In the Lounge" tracks. Original tracks included.

  • Goodman's Surprise remix
  • Santa's Workshop remix
  • The Operative remix
  • No One Grooves Forever remix
  • Unknown remix
  • UNITY's Spy remix

Mac Play version Soundtrack

  1. Goodman's Surprise – 02:24
  2. Santa's Workshop – 02:39
  3. Be-boppin' Shoo-woppin' Along – 02:43
  4. The Operative – 03:41
  5. Elevator of Love – 02:57
  6. No One Grooves Forever – 03:11
  7. Unknown – 02:42
  8. Suisse Chalet – 03:34
  9. UNITY's Spy – 02:59
  10. No One Lives Forever Theme – 01:41
  11. Goodman's Surprise remix – 03:03
  12. Santa's Workshop remix – 02:58
  13. The Operative remix – 03:45
  14. No One Grooves Forever remix – 03:11
  15. Unknown remix – 02:43
  16. UNITY's Spy remix – 03:16

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 No One Lives Forever Source Code Release
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Operative: No One Lives Forever Game of the Year Edition. No One Lives Forever website. Fox Interactive (2001). Retrieved on 2010-07-18.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Craig Hubbard (June 2001). Postmortem: Monolith's No One Lives Forever. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2010-07-18.
  4. Tom Bramwell (October 2005). The FEAR Effect. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2010-07-23.
  5. 5.0 5.1 IGN Staff (August 1999). Fox Interactive Pursue Sanity. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-07-18.
  6. Logan Booker (June 2005). Engine room: F.E.A.R. Factor. Atomic MPC. Retrieved on 2010-07-23.
  7. Christian Nutt (November 2009). IGDA Forum: WB's Ryan On What It Takes. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2010-07-31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Vincent Lopez (August 1999). No One Lives Forever. IGN. Retrieved on 2010-07-18.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 CVG Staff. No One Lives Forever, Mr Bond. Computer and Video Games. Retrieved on 2010-07-20.
  10. 10.0 10.1 User "Damien_Azreal" (January 2008). Re: No One Lives Forever / NOLF 1 & 2. 3D Realms Forums. Retrieved on 2010-07-20.
  11. User "NakaNaka" (April 2001). Getting Into The Gaming Industry: Part II – Interview with Craig Hubbard. Intelgamer. Archived from the original on 2001-10-24 Retrieved on 2010-07-23. “Craig Hubbard: My name is Craig Hubbard. I'm the Creative Director at Monolith and was the lead game designer on No One Lives Forever. I'm also the lead designer on the sequel, which we're currently referring to as The Operative 2 (TO2).”
  12. No One Lives Forever Source Code 1.003

External links

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