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Overview

"Would you like to buy a monkey?"

The Operative: No One Lives Forever, or NOLF, is a first-person shooter/espionage game set in the 1960s. Inspired by the James Bond series of films but taking the light hearted approach of Austin Powers, the game has highly charming appeal in its universe and overall artistic direction. The game was published by Fox Interactive and developed by Monolith Productions using the Lithtech 2.0: Talon graphics engine. No One Lives Forever was released on November 9, 2000.

The game features numerous locales from Soviet Russia, East Germany, and the Swiss Alps. There is also a trip beyond the atmosphere, underwater, and, of course, an evil villain's lair inspired by a Bond flick. Many more locations are left to the player to discover. One aspect of the game which really set it apart from other shooters is that you played as Cate Archer, a female protagonist. Other aspects which set it apart were its high quality gameplay, brilliant story, and terrific dialog and voice acting.

Plot

Cate meeting with her partner.

Just like a spy flick from the '60s and '70s, the game has you battling international evil villains and their henchman while working for an organization called UNITY. The sole reason for UNITY's existence is to maintain global peace and harmony--even at the cost of an agent's life. The main evil organization you battle against is called H.A.R.M. who has taken the world ransom with the threat of bio-chemical warfare. It's a race against time as Cate Archer, on her very first assignment, must discover the people behind H.A.R.M. and bring them to justice while saving the world.

Cate's gender plays a significant role in the game. She is UNITY's first female operative and frequently has her abilities and decisions questioned and mocked by both allies and enemies alike. However, Cate is strong-willed and does not take such comments lightly. She readily stands up for herself, often with humorous results.

Main Characters

Cate Archer

Cate Archer, spy extraordinaire

Cate Archer is the epitome of what every woman in the 60’s would like to be; she is extremely competent, intelligent and goddamn attractive. Cate was born in Scotland in late March 1942; her mother never really recovered from labor and passed away three weeks later. Cate's father gradually fell into drunkenness and started losing his health until the day he put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger, in 1954. From then on, Cate went from an orphanage to various foster homes, but her strong personality made it that she would never last anywhere for long. Eventually she turned to thievery, mainly to be able to provide for herself but also because she was just really good at it. In 1958 her life took an unexpected turn, however, as she attempted to steal from Bruno Lawrie. What she didn't know was that Lawrie was a UNITY agent and that the watch she had stolen had a built-in tracking device. When she got home, he was waiting for her. Luckily for Cate, he admired her talent and fearlessness and decided to give her an opportunity. Nine years passed and she is now a covert operative for UNITY awaiting for her first real assignment.

Bruno Lawrie

Bruno Lawrie, aging super-spy

Once a British super-spy, Bruno Lawrie’s reckless lifestyle and passing of time took their toll. After having found Cate, however, he began teaching her the tricks of the trade, and found himself a form of redemption. Cate regards Bruno as her mentor and perhaps even as a substitute father figure.

Tom Goodman

Tom Goodman, license to dress horribly

Tom Goodman is a good-natured American agent. He's been in the employ of UNITY for over 10 years.

Sergeant Magnus Armstrong

Magnus Armstrong, Scottish stereotype

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1925, Magnus Armstrong is a Scottish Demolition Expert with a knack for fist fighting. He was expelled from several schools until the day his parents finally sent him to a military academy. After having served in the War, Armstrong eventually got himself in H.A.R.M.'s way.

Mr. Smith & Mr. Jones

Smith & Jones, UNITY's big shots-- your bosses, that is

Smith and Jones run the operations of UNITY. They oversee the whole organization and delegate assignments to field operatives. They were once field operatives as well and are therefore very experienced in all spy-related activities. Smith is the typical gentleman who expects nothing but perfection from himself as well as his agents--he sees any type of mistake as being a complete failure. Jones is more flexible--he also doesn’t take failure lightly but is a bit more understanding to his agents.

Inge Wagner

Inge Wagner, delusional diva

Inge Wagner is a German nightclub proprietor living in Bremen. She is very distantly related to Richard Wagner and was highly pressured as a child to become an opera singer. Unfortunately for her, she was just plain and simply terrible. Nonetheless, her parents’ obsession with having her daughter becoming a world-class opera singer made them encourage her so eagerly that all that ridiculous adulation eventually made her into a self-centered, neurotic diva. It is rumored that she eventually turned into crime in order to make money to compensate for the complete absence of work offers in the opera-singing department.

Dimitrij Volkov

Dimitrij Volkov, criminal mastermind

Dimitrij Volkov was born in Kamchatka in 1921 and by the age of eight he had already distinguished himself as an academic prodigy and master chess player. On the downside, he also gained some notoriety for having developed a couple of torture techniques on his neighbors' pets. As he grew older, this darker side of his personality took over and he deliberately chose to pursue a criminal lifestyle solely because he found it to be interesting--that and he could do whatever experiments he wanted on pretty much anyone he wanted. Recent reports link Volkov to an organization calling itself H.A.R.M.

Gameplay

Shooting bad guys.

Being a spy, Cate is armed with numerous gadgets disguised as everyday objects. These gadgets include a belt buckle zipcord, a barrette which serves as a lock pick and a poisoned blade for stealth kills, a cigarette lighter which also works as a welder, lipstick-shaped grenades, perfume dispensers which emit an array of gases, a briefcase missile launcher, and sunglasses which can be used as a camera, infrared vision, and mine detector. Other gadgets include body removing powder, a code breaker, security camera disabler, and a robotic poodle.

Continuing with the spy theme, Cate is encouraged to discover as much as she can about H.A.R.M. and its goals. Scattered throughout the game world are hundreds of intelligence items which give interesting and often humorous clues and insight into the world of terrorist organizations, the people working for them, and details about their operations. Intelligence items come in several forms: letters, notes, brief cases, dossiers, folders, files, envelopes, blueprints, shipping manifests, Captain's logs, packages, ledgers, passenger rosters, security passes, film canisters, photographs (which can be collected or taken with the sunglasses), and film reels. Intelligence items can also be gathered through conversations/interrogations with people as well as eavesdropping on other conversations. Gathering intelligence is rewarded with bonuses. Bonuses include health, armor, ammo capacity, damage, accuracy, and reputation.

Another spy-related theme is stealth. Cate is encouraged to be as stealthy as possible throughout the game although in most missions brute force is also an option. Sound plays a key role in being stealthy. Enemies are able to hear and find Cate if she is walking or running on hard substances. Crouching and/or walking on softer ground enables Cate to move undetected. The game's soundtrack works to let you know whether or not guards are aware of your presence. Slower, relaxed music means she is safe whereas faster, ominous music means she's been detected. Being stealthy has definite advantages. In addition to being able to deal with enemies quickly (and non-lethally, if desired), Cate is able to listen in on the conversations of her enemies. NPC conversations are one of the highlights of the game. Enemy henchmen will discuss the tedium of their lives, cars, philosophy, TV shows, etc. At the end of each level, Cate's performance is scored and ranked, with a large portion of the score coming from how stealthy she was.

Weapons

WeaponAmmunition
Types
Description
HandsThe Hands are your default weapon, but it can pretty much only take out your target while performing a stealth knock; using it in non stealth situations requires several hits to kill
Shepard Arms P38 9mm Pistol
9mm
FMJ
Cyanide
Dum dum
This Walther P38 is one of the most useful weapons in your arsenal, since it can be outfitted with a silencer. The magazine holds 10 shots.
Petri .38 Airweight Revolver
.38 special
FMJ
Dum Dum
White-Phosphorous
Explosive
The Petri .38 is a five bullet revolver is a powerful weapon, but cannot be equipped with a silencer, so use with caution.
Braun 9mm Parabellum
9mm
FMJ
Cyanide
Dum dum
The Braun 9mm has a hard recoil and hold 10 rounds in the magazine. Its reload speed is fast which can prove to be quite helpful if you've blown your cover and enemies are moving in on you.
Hampton Carbine
.45 ACPIf you like being stealthy, the Hampton Carbine would be your sniper-rifle of choice; it fires so quietly that even nearby enemies won't hear it. It has a 10 round magazine and the reloading times are very slow. It can be used with or without scope.
Hampton MPL 9mm SMG
9mm
FMJ
Cyanide
Dum dum
This submachine-gun houses a 30 round magazine, and its steady reliable aim will make you knock out your enemies in a heartbeat. It can be equiped with a silencer
AK-47 Assault Rifle
7.62mmR
FMJ
White-Phosphorous
This russian gun mows down enemies at a considerable rate-- it can eventually be equipped with a scope, later in the game.
Morris Model 14 Speargun
SpearsThe spear gun is ideal to pin your enemies against walls-- fast kills are assured. Its only downfall is that this is a single-shot weapon and you have to reload it after every shot, so use carefully.
Sportsman EX Crossbow
Crossbow Bolts
Normal
Poison
Incendiary
Explosive
The crossbow is silent weapon that can kill almost anything with a single shot to the head. It can be upgraded with a scope
Gordon 9mm SMG
9mm
FMJ
Cyanide
Dum dum
Although not a very powerful weapon, the Gordon 9mm has fast reload times and its 30 bullets magazine make it a great weapon against multiple enemies.
M79 Grenade Launcher
40mm grenadesGrenades shoot out from this launcher with pin-point accuracy, and are capable of travelling up to great distances.
Geldmacher SVD Sniper Rifle
.308 Caliber
FMJ
White-Phosphorous
The Geldmacher sniper rifle is outfitted with a scope and is extremely powerful. The gun holds a 10 round magazine, but sure makes a lot of noise when fired. Later in the game it gains a night vision upgrade
Laser Gun
EnergyThis sci-fi gun looks like it was taken out from a 1950's B-movie and a single shot can pierce through, but it takes forever to recharge.
Super Atomic Laser Weapon
EnergyNot only does this laser gun kill the enemy, it also immediately eradicates any signs of their existence-- meaning, their bodies are blown to smithereens.
Bacalov Corrector
HE bulletsThe Bacalov comes with a scope and some really nasty explosive-tip bullets that detonate on impact. It is however a single-chamber weapon, and because it is extremely noisy, reloading will have you running for your life before you know it.
The Briefcase
40mm rocketsThe UNITY special, also known as "the Briefcase". The case packs a missile launcher inside it, allowing you to blow your opponents away with great prejudice-- be careful of its splash damage, though. The case can only hold one missile at a time and the reloading times are very, very slow.

Ammunition

  • Full Metal Jacket -- 90% of your weapons use a Full Metal Jacket bullet by default.
  • Dum-Dum -- these bullets cause a mushroom effect upon impact, which causes victims to have a larger hole in their bodies-- gore is guaranteed.
  • Phosphorous -- these bullets will make your victims burn and scream in pain.
  • Cyanide-Tipped -- in 3 words, poison tipped bullets-- they literally make you see goats if you're hit by one (you included!)
  • High-Explosive -- these bullets are especially designed for the Bacalov Corrector and will explode on contact.

Gadgets

These are not exactly the kind of gadgets James Bond would use, but they're equally effective.

DescriptionGadget
The Barrette's primary function is a lockpick, and the second function is a poison capsule dagger.
Barrette / Lockpick
Coins can be used as a distraction, to steer enemies off of your path of choice.
Coins
This toxic powder will decay a body faster than you can say "body remover".
Body Remover
These Sunglasses come with a zoom feature, photograph device, infrared vision and they also allow you to detect mine fields!
Sunglasses
The lighter is good to start fires to draw attention to yourself, when necessary. It also makes up for a flashlight, when needed.
Its secondary function is the Mini-Welder, which can cut through heavy locks.
Lighter / Welder
These Perfume bottles dispense 2 varieties of non-lethal gases and a (very) lethal one:
  1. Sleeping gas, capable of incapacitating enemies.
  2. Stun gas, which will daze and confuse anyone caught within the range of its influence.
  3. Acid gas, that burns through living tissue.
Perfumes
This Camera Disabler will allow you to forever loop footage back into the camera lens, allowing you to be able to move undetected.
Camera Disabler
Lipsticks are your hand held grenades in the game and come in 3 varieties:
  1. Lipstick Impact Explosive - this device detonates on impact.
  2. Lipstick Proximity Explosive - this device is triggered when a target comes within its range.
  3. Lipstick Timed Explosive - this device has a five second fuse.
Lipsticks
Line up your buckle (cursor) to any given Zip-Cord Hooks present in the game, press fire, and off you go to previously unreacheable places.
Belt Buckle / Zip Cord
Equipped with pheromone dispensers, this puppy will flirt with the nearest guard dogs and well, distract them from your presence.
Robotic Poodle
The Code Breaker is naturally used to hack into anything that is electronically sealed.
Code Breaker

Voice Talents

Voice TalentCharacter(s)
Kit HarrisCate Archer / Inge Wagner
Jock BlaneyDimitrij Volkov
David StalkerMagnus Armstrong
John Patrick LowrieBruno Lawrie
Roger CurtisMr. Smith
Nigel NealeMr. Jones
Mike MadeoyTom Goodman / Melvin Blitzny
Jeff SteitzerBaron Archibald Dumas
Barbara DiricksonBaroness Dumas

Trivia

Becoming Cate Archer
  • Model Mitzi Martin served as inspiration for the conception of Cate Archer's overall looks.

Reception

The Operative: No One Lives Forever was critically acclaimed by numerous journalists throughout the industry. It won several game of the year awards. It was especially credited for having a motion p icture worthy plot and excellent writing. It currently sits at 89% on GameRankings.

The game's success prompted Fox Interactive to release a special Game of the Year edition. It contained a bonus level after the game's normal ending. As well as extra multiplayer maps.

Sequel

The popularity of The Operative: No One Lives Forever led to an equally high quality sequel being developed and released called, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M's Way, in 2002.

Soundtrack

CD Cover Artwork

The original score for the in-game music was composed by Guy Whitmore. However, the released soundtrack for the game featured solely original tracks based on the game's 1960's groovy spy theme. While some of the song titles use characters and settings from the game, it is worth noting that none of the songs can actually be found in the game. The title for the released CD goes by the name of "In the Lounge".

Tracks one through nine were written and composed by Becky Kneubuhl and were mixed and recorded by Gabriel Rutman at Asylum Studios.

Track ten was written and performed by Archie Thompson. Track eleven was written and performed by Red Delicious.

Track No.Song TitleRunning Time
01Goodman's Surprise02.24
02Santa's Workshop02.39
03Be-boppin' Shoo-woopin' Along02.43
04The Operative03.41
05Elevator of Love02.57
06No One Grooves Forever03.11
07Suisse Chalet03.34
08UNITY's Spy02.59
09Untitled02.42
10El Dorado02.41
11Void03.54

System Requirements

PC

Minimum

  • Operating System: Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME
  • Processor: Pentium II 300 MHz
  • RAM Memory: 64 MB
  • Hard Drive Space: 400 MB
  • Graphics Card: 8 MB 3D accelerated video card
  • DirectX: DirectX 7.0
  • Sound Card: 16-bit DirectSound compatible

Recommended

  • Operating System: Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME
  • Processor: Pentium III 500 MHz
  • RAM Memory: 128 MB
  • Hard Drive Space: 400 MB
  • Graphics Card: 32 MB 3D accelerated video card
  • DirectX: DirectX 7.0
  • Sound Card: 16-bit DirectSound compatible

MAC

  • Operating System: Mac OS X v10.1 / Mac OS 9
  • Processor: 350 MHz PowerPC G3 or better
  • RAM Memory: 128 MB
  • Hard Drive Space: 900 MB
  • Graphics Card: 8 MB 3D accelerated video card

Playstation 2

  • Memory: 150 Kb on memory card

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