No One Lives Forever 2

I’ve just been playing through the levels in India and hit another disappointment. Several reviews I’ve seen have pointed out that there aren’t any missions that you fail immediately if the guards see you like in the first game. What they omitted was that there’s at least one mission where you’re restarted at a certain point if the guards spot you. What’s the practical difference between having your progress reset and having to restart a mission when the guards see you? It’s the same frustration. I enjoy the game enough to put up with this trial and error section, I just feel some of the reviews misrepresented how new and improved NOLF 2 is.

Well, I finished the game last night and while I enjoyed it, I don’t think it was as good as the first one. It just doesn’t have the same character the first one had. Also, the story seems lacking in parts, like they needed to keep it simpler than it should have been. I expected more investigative work; more espionage, but it more of a race then anything else. It seemed rushed to me. Anyway, just my thoughts. I still had fun playing it, but I doubt I’ll play it again.

Jaysun, you’re high. It’s SO much better than the first game in every respect. It’s not the best. game. ever. for me, but I find myself voluntarily coming back to play it-- something I can’t say about NOLF1, with its incredibly frustrating half-complete stealth elements, alarms that sound FOR THE ENTIRE LEVEL, and its smorgasboard of useless novelty gadgets.

Except… for that god damned snowmobile. This is the first game that makes the Operation Flashpoint vehicle controls look good.

The game is kind of difficult in places, isn’t it? Parts of that Soviet base scenario are like playing Frogger with the screen turned off in that there are these guards you can’t see whose lines of sight you have to discover by trial and error, and whose movement patterns you can’t see all at once. I had to do an awful lot of reloading in that mission.

I could do my Dave Long impression for you! Here goes: you’re a pussy. Games should be HARD. And if you don’t like it, too goddamn bad. Stop playing and move out of the way so the real men can get some time in.

Okay, back to reality.

While I appreciate the stealth, and I do use it occasionally, 99% of the time I find that it’s a LOT more efficient to just blast your way through. At least on the “normal” difficulty I’m playing on, there’s a liberal sprinkling of armor and health-- more than I can use, really. Avoidance works, but requires a lot of sitting quietly and observing and … zzzzz damn I fell asleep again. I generally use a more proactive stealth apporach of tranquilizing guards, but then they just wake up and sound the alarm later. I found myself tranquilizing (or shocking) guards, then putting a .32 caliber bullet in their head so I didn’t have to deal with the consequences later. That’s kinda sick. I figure killing them outright is less… creepy.

Anyway, the gun battles aren’t terribly difficult. Just find something to lean out from behind or crouch down under, and take your shots.

So far I’ve only tried to play through the Akron ninja onslaught once, but it seemed like it would be quite a challenge even on easy level. There are way too many ninjas for my ammunition, I don’t have enough armor, and they are dancing around throwing shuriken at range so I can’t just run after them with a katana. By the time I stumbled randomly from the outside-the-house area into the ninja-mayhem-in-the-backyard area, I didn’t have enough resources to last more than a few seconds. I guess if I optimize to run for the mayhem area I might eventually get through it, but it seems to be a serious challenge.

Man that was a fun section. Great design, too-- you spend a lot of time in an empty house, exploring, building up tension, then WHAM. And you get caught with very little ammo and only two weapons.

The key to this section is finding the shotgun and armor after you leave the house (it’s in a nearby shed). There is also another shed (actually two of them) behind the houses in the street. Make sure you quicksave, then run around until you find it, and go from shed to shed until you find the exit to the boss battle.

You can use the same approach in the next prelude to the boss battle; keep running from ammo -> armor -> ammo while fighting. Once you’re fighting the ninja chick, there are two armor sets in the small mobile home… fairly obvious. Get them when your armor is low; don’t waste them early.

It’s no accident that Siberia is the first place you get those tracking darts for your utility launcher. Fire them and the guards show up on your radar.

You really gotta use your ears, too. If guards are hard to hear unless you’re right on top of them, try disabling hardware sound in the launcher: weird sound mixing (and missing background sounds) is one symptom of buggy sound in this game that you might not notice.

As for the backyard ninjas in Akron: by the time I got there, they were pretty easy. I guess it might have to do with where you put your points. Adding points to search is really handy, because you don’t just search faster, you find more useful stuff. I ran out of ammo a lot less when I pumped up Search and raised Carrying a little (to increase max ammo limit). Those ninjas WILL keep coming forever on that level, I think, so you’re best off just killing and moving until you get to the exit.

And go for headshots, they do a lot more damage.

I put all my points into stealth, endurance/health, and armor. I had about 4000 points banked before the boss battle so I put 2 levels into weapons for the additional damage bonus.

Search seems like a waste of good skill points to me…

It’s not entirely. If it only sped searching up it would be. But you’ll find additional ammo, armor pads, and bandages on enemies if you crank up your search. Even ammo types for weapons other than what that guy was using (like .38 ammo on a guy using an AK-47), and special ammo types like explosive rounds and whatnot. Not to mention various types of grenades.

Putting points into search is the best way to stay well-equipped. I concentrated on it and became the Master of Searching in no-time. 1000% bonus to Thoroughness is nothing to sneeze at. I never ran out of ammo for anything, always had a camera disabler when I needed one, you name it.

But that’s one of the joys of the game. That’s the way I enjoyed to play. If you enjoy boosting health and weapon damage, you’ve got that option. :)

I have a question about the co-op multiplayer part. Basically has anybody tried it yet and if so is it any good?

I’ve tried a couple of the missions. The mime mission was fun and challenging. The Supercomputer mission was impossible and we gave up after about 100 deaths. They need to let you respawn with your equipment - having to walk back from the spawn is punishment enough - and/or let you be revived with more health and armor. The groups of super guards get a little tiresome - one time I was hit with four grenades simultaneously while being riddled with AK47 fire. Ouch.

I just finished NOLF2 (about an hour ago), and it was entertaining right up through the end credits. Excellent game, oozing with style and attention to detail. You can tell they loved making it.

The story is fun, and the cutscenes were always interesting or humorous; often both. I had many ‘laugh out loud’ moments in this game, probably more than any other game I’ve played. Though some areas were tough, I rarely got frustrated. I was very glad I did not buy the $20 hint book.

On stats, I finished with five dots in Stealth, Marksmanship, and Weapons, four in Armor, three in Stamina, Carrying, and Gadgets, and one in Search.

I was happy with how I spent my points, and would recommend the following to anyone starting out:

– Carrying to three (mainly for the Utility Launcher and RFA .308, though 300+ machinegun rounds is nice, too). Fast body movement is also a plus.

– Weapons to as high as you want to go. Reload times are nearly as important as damage on this one.

– Armor to three, if not higher. I mainly needed this for the boss fights, but there are also certain levels where you’re going to take a lot of fire and there’s not much you can do about it. I would say three is the minimum here.

I took Marksmanship up mainly because I figured a good spy ought to at least have Marksmanship on par (if not above) Weapons. The benefits of Marksmanship are hard to really judge when your playing (though reduced zoomed-in crosshair swimming [none at level five] is obvious). I certainly got better at hitting targets, and racked up the headshots, but judging how much was Marksmanship and how much was myself improving is a tough call. I was charging enemies and walking rounds from their torso up to their heads by endgame.

Stealth seemed an obvious pick for the amount of infiltration you do, so I kept this even with Marksmanship. The benefits are very obvious while playing, too. Fast hide is great when you actually have hiding spots/lightbulbs/light switches available. You don’t always have that luxury, however. Stealthy movement means you can get close enough to put a bullet/bolt in their head without them noticing you. Stealthy running is nice when you have a lot of ground to cover. Losing pursuers can come in handy, especially on certain levels where you have to avoid, rather than shoot opponents. I found myself doing more running and gunning than trying to escape regular enemies, so this benefit was only handy in certain situations. The manual mentions that the detection radius for other misc. actions are reduced, and this did seem to be the case, but that’s another tough one to judge.

Stamina is an odd one. I rarely had anything get past my armor, so high health isn’t crucial. There are certain types of damage that will bypass armor (like fire), though, so at least some points here could help. Toughness seems like a great benefit, but I was never sure if that counted for hits on armor as well as health. Regardless, I did fine at three.

Gadgets I took up because a spy without gadget skills isn’t much of a spy, but you really could get by without increasing this one at all. There are a few times it would come in handy (including picking locks while being chased), and what spy movie would be complete without defusing a bomb or two? Ultimitely, you probably don’t need it, though.

On Search I have to disagree with Jason, though. The game is very liberal about giving out ammo/armor, and I don’t think I ever really wanted for either. This may change with difficulty (I played on Normal), but I was glad I put my points elsewhere. There is an overabundance of equipment available if you look around for it.

In general, this is an excellent game, but some of the missions are annoying as hell.

Right now I’m stuck on the underwater supercomputer deal. I have to go FIND A REQUISITION FORM? Jesus. And I’m totally stuck. I’ve spent about a half hour running around this goddamn level looking for that form and all I can find is a few doors that require a keycard or decoder, but I have neither. I’ve killed all the guards and robots about fifty times over in the process. Whee!

A few missions prior to this, I had to find a bucket and put out fires while avoiding invulnerable enemies who packed a major wallop. What a pain.

Then, there was the defend the HQ mission. It took ANOTHER 30 minutes of aimlessly running around the level before I could manage to trigger the last few mimes to appear so I could complete the “stop the invasion” mission objective.

I was not terribly fond of the “remove all the wanted posters” mission either. You can’t fight back, and you have to ghost the police to see where they slap up the posters.

I appreciate the concept of mixing up the gameplay a bit in different missions, but some of this is more tedious than fun. I feel like I’m being forced to jump through arbitrary hoops.

Correction. It probably wasn’t 30 minutes. More like 10 minutes that felt like 30, because there was nothing to do but run around the (at this point, empty) level and find the macguffin I was looking for.

You can find the v2.0 manual? on a guy in the bathroom AFTER you get the v1.0 manual by getting the key to a locked room from the computer in the hallway. I was stuck a bit on this level too. You havfe to trigger the responses from the compouters to do this. Its a lot of back and forth moving.

and I HATED that put the fire out level (worst map in the game!)… and my biggest peeve is the lack of weapon choices compared to NOLF 1 and then the 'quick’load times not being very quick. I average 30 - 50 seconds per quickload… i dont know if its my pc or not… but the NOLF 2 demo didn’t QL longer than 10 seconds… maybe bigger levels… just very annoying considering I played on Superspy and had to quickload every onceinawhile.

Would be cool if they transfered the NOLF 2 AI to NOLF 1… if it was possible… though I doubt it… but I can dream dammit!

etc

My quick loads take about the same amount of time. It is annoying.

They take about 5 seconds on my machine. The water speeds it up!

Finished. NOLF2 goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. The more I played, the less I liked the game. For two reasons.

First, because the proportion of annoying puzzle/item hunt missions is definitely skewed towards the end of the game (see my earlier post on this).

Second, because the game isn’t very challenging. The combat sometimes feels like an afterthought. Here are some examples:

Those robots you’ll encounter-- they are invulnerable to small arms fire (which I found out via a memo in a desk), but you are provided with an astronomical number of electrical charges to take them out. So whenever you encounter them, you merely switch to electrical ammo (which you always seem to have), zap them once, and they explode. Challenging! Why include them at all? The supersoldiers are sort of the same way. Once you get the ASSS ammo (chuckle), it’s only marginally more interesting than the robots. Shoot them a few times until they start smoking, switch to the utility weapons, then zap. Buh bye.

But it’s not just the special enemies. The garden variety enemy AI is good enough with crazy quips, stealth responses, navigating the level, and ambient behavior, but they aren’t particularly good at COMBAT. Generally they blast away at you and even run right towards you. No use of grenades. No significant use of cover or ducking. Sure, they call for help, big whoop. Now you get to kill three ducks lined up in a row instead of one. Sometimes I’d intentionally set off the alarms to trigger more things to kill, BECAUSE I WAS BORED. That’s bad! Profoundly bad!

This, combined with my RPG-ish buildup of health and armor (both were maxed by the end of the game), killing the enemies became almost… well, tedious rather than thrilling. At that point, you’re left with little more than a myst-like game of exploration and fetching the red, blue, and yellow keys in various forms.

Maybe I’d be less ambivalent about NOLF2 if I played it more as a pure stealth shooter, but I don’t have that kind of time to dedicate to a game.

Dare I ask at what difficulty you played, wumpy?

I’m seeing plenty of grenades at the higher difficulty levels. Accurate, too. Makes the long load times that much more annoying.

I played on normal difficulty. Just to test this hypothesis, I played the last mission, by itself, on Superspy difficulty. I changed the difficulty level as soon as the level loaded via the in-game menus.

It’s definitely more challenging with only 50 health and 50 armor (!!)compared to the 150/150 I had by the end of the game. Not to mention the damage and weapon bonuses I had… but that’s a side effect of the RPG skill building elements; the actual enemy AI seems unchanged; it’s as easy as ever to dispatch the supersoldiers and the guys with the SMGs. I’m certainly not seeing any grenades. I have to be a lot more careful to avoid getting hit because of my low HP and armor, but it’s not exactly challenging-- just slower paced. The armor and ammo drops in the level didn’t change either; they’re all in the same places.

And if you have some kind of beef with me reviewing this game based on the normal difficulty, I refer you to Steve Bauman, who REVIEWS EVERY GAME ON THE EASY SETTING.

At least “normal” is a defensible choice-- it’s supposed to be what the majority of the people playing the game select, and the it should be the default difficulty that the game is designed and tested for.