No One Lives Forever
by Universal Interactive
One of the most interesting FPS games on the PC was No One Lives Forever (NOLF). Controlling Cate Archer, a character that represents a mix of Emma Peel in the original The Avengers TV series and James Bond; you are a sixties secret agent. Unlike most FPS games the dialogue is actually interesting and funny and you'll find yourself playing the game just to find out how the story progresses.
The game begins with your employers, the secret organisation UNITY informing you that your fellow agents are slowly being wiped out by the evil and twisted organisation H.A.R.M., UNITY is convinced that somebody is betraying it's agents and desperately needs to know who that somebody is. It is made clear that you have only been picked because of the lack of agents available. A fellow agent and friend called Bruno takes you under his wing for the first mission in Morocco. Unfortunately half way through the Moroccan excursion Bruno is killed by UNITY's old enemy, Volkov. Cate is now on her own.
Now FPS games are not usually the ideal genre for deaf gamers. They are usually unsubtitled and completely unfriendly. Thankfully NOLF makes a damn good attempt at being suitable for deaf gamers. The game is subtitled with wonderfully clear text. The subtitles are an option but they are on by default. You occasionally have to make choices too, like in adventure games. On your first mission you can elect to have Bruno call out the targets if you so wish. Whilst walking around the conversations that are held by civilians or enemies are subtitled so you know if there is someone around the corner. The only comments that are not subtitled are the comic insults that are made whilst you are firing upon your enemies. These don't affect the gameplay but rob you a little of the game's humour. Icons alert you if you are being shot and you are caught by fire. You are told if your mission objectives have changed by a text message on screen and holding down the circle button will inform you of these objectives.
What the game does need though is captions. When you get to the second stage Berlin by night, the game becomes difficult without the use of captions or sound archs. Early on in the stage you are told to perform a list of objectives. One of these objectives is to answer the public phone. A hearing gamer can locate the phone because of the ring tone. A deaf gamer will have to locate the phone by merely searching. There is no danger at this stage though so it isn't too much of a problem. Before the Berlin mission you are taken to a training mission to highlight some problems that you might encounter. One of these problems is security cameras. On most occasions you can see the cameras so that really isn't much of a problem but if the camera is located in an awkward place then you could be in trouble. A hearing gamer will hear the whirring noise of the camera and be alerted to the presence of the devices. If there had been some kind of visual notification for the presence of the camera it would have been better. If the camera catches you an alarm will sound (again no visual notification of this) and you will come under fire very shortly after. Because there is no visual representation of these alarms the first time you'll know that it ringing is when you come under fire and therefore you lose those precious second to prepare for the onslaught or attempt to get out of the way. Compare this with one of the other problems, the spotlight. The spotlight is silent and you have to avoid the light beam to avoid raising the alarm but at least you don't need to hear it.
Graphically the game looks pretty much like the original PC version. The game is bright and colourful and whilst it's not the best looking game on the PS2 there certainly isn't anything wrong with it. The frame rate, always crucially important in a FPS, remains constant during gameplay although it occasionally dips in some of the cutscenes. There are a few graphical glitches. The worst I have seen is in the first mission, Morocco. On scene 7 there was one part where a gun came out of the corner of the wall. As I got closer it was obvious that one of the enemies was actually stuck in the wall. Thankfully I have only seen this once.
A feature of the game which some people might not like is the way in which the game does not replenish your health between scenes. Each location is made up of different scenes. When you go from one location to another your health does replenish but not so between the scenes. If you finish the one scene with very little health you are going to be in trouble on the next scene. It is possible to begin a scene, receive one shot and be killed. It is a good idea to make use of all four savegame slots and never save successively over the same slot so as you don't have to go back too far should you make a mess of things. In case you are wondering there are no cheat codes for the game to switch on a God mode or to replenish health so you'll have to be careful.
No One Lives Forever is definitely one of the most enjoyable FPS games on the PS2. We have really enjoyed playing the game. You have to bear in mind though that it can be very difficult for a deaf gamer. If enemies that are near to you aren't talking, then you won't be visually notified of their presence through the subtitles. Nor are there any footprint icons like in other FPS games. The security cameras can cause extremely difficult problems too. Having said this, the wonderful subtitles allow you to follow the story in such a way that no other FPS to date on the PS2 does. If we had to pick a FPS on the PS2 this would definitely be the one, despite it's difficulties.
Overall Game Rating: 7.8/10 No One Lives Forever is a really enjoyable FPS for the PS2. Our mark isn't too high because it reflects the difficulty that security cameras, etc can cause for deaf gamers. If you want an enjoyable challenge though we recommend this game.
Deaf Gamers comment: There are a few problems, such as the security cameras that we mentioned earlier. However the game is superbly subtitled and allows you to fully enjoy the story.