Top positive review
14 people found this helpful
on 5 November 2003
The first game, No One Lives Forever, was a truly excellent game for its time (in fact I was playing it again only a week ago) and never really got the sales it deserved. But the developers went back again and produced a second adventure for UNITY agent Cate Archer, titled A Spy in HARM's Way - this game. It should be a brilliant hit, but I can't help but feel a bit nonplussed about it. What went wrong?
First off, the graphics have been well and truly cranked up, and I can honestly say that this is possibly the best-looking FPS on the market, even now! The designers have spent a lot of time of the character models and it has paid off; Cate, her opponents and her surroundings are all lovingly detailed and it's a real pleasure to dash around the levels and see what's going to come up next. The weapons are now handled more like a typical FPS, with Half-life style weapons groupings and access. My only complaint is that the amount of ammo you can carry is seriously reduced, although Cate is supposed to be a spy, not a Tank. Still, I would have appreciated some amount of choice in initial loadout, as was the case in NOLF1, especially with the opportunity to pick up bolt-on accessories such as scopes and silencers. The experience system is a real hit, you can tailor Cate's abilities the way you want to use them. And finally the interface is hugely improved, with keys now in much better places (it used to drive me potty).
Problems? Well, the game feels too short when you finish it. The original was a really long piece, an epic that could take hours to play through even on easy settings. The set-piece missions are just TOO scripted, in that your options for dealing with problems or opponents are too limited. Previously you had choice, as with the brilliant "Thief" games you had the option of duking it out, stealthily infiltrating with a silenced pistol, or just sneaking through a level as you saw fit. This time there's often just one way through, and it detracts from the play value somewhat, as well as sometimes making the game much more difficult than it really wants to be. And while the graphics are way, WAY improved, the game feels dark. The first was a burst of technicolour 60's brightness. This feels grim by comparison. There aren't half as many funny intelligence items like you used to be able to pick up, or half as many inane conversations between guards like you used to be able to listen in to (and sometimes learn useful hints). Some enemies can't be killed (I cannot emphasise just how much that annoys me). Some respawning borders on the ridiculous, and you can't methodically clear some of the levels of enemies. And, I just want to raise this again, you have no choice over your initial loadout.
So, despite some really good improvements, it feels like it has still slid back a bit. It's much grimmer and offers less choice than before, as well as sacrificing game length and a lot of comedy features that I loved so much. A third game, brightened up a bit, given a bit more comedy and given back some choice of gameplay would be more valuable to me than Deus Ex 2. Overall, it's a good game in itself and is worth Four Stars, but it's really a victim of its predecessor's success.