Welcome to a new column here at Game Debate. It’s a little corner of my brain I’m calling “Bring it Back!”
From time to time, I will make a clarion call to the video game universe with one simple goal: resurrect a once loved game or game franchise that has since slipped into the crevice of obscurity...
I’m hoping some of the other writers will contribute a Bring it Back! article of their own from time to time. I would also love to hear from all you readers out there in Readerville: what dusty, now obscure game would you love to see given new life? I’d also like to hear what you think of the column, and if you would like to see more… as Dr. Frasier Crane would say, “I’m listening…”
Our first contestant here on Bring it Back! is the spy spoof first-person shooter series, No One Lives Forever. NOLF, first released in 2000, was developed by Monolith Productions, who went on to great success with the first and second F.E.A.R. games (2005 and 2009), the endlessly brilliant TRON 2.0 (2003), both entries in the Condemned series (2005 and 2008), and are currently hard at work on Gotham City Imposters and Guardians of Middle-earth (both released last year). The first NOLF (properly titled, The Operative: No One Lives Forever) was followed up in 2002 with a sequel, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in HARM’s Way, and a spin-off sequel in 2003 called Contract J.A.C.K.
Imagine a FPS version of the Austin Powers movies, and you have the basic gist of the NOLF series. NOLF takes place during the 1960s, and spoofs all of the kitschy, colorful spy movies of era. You play as UNITY agent Cate Archer as she travels the globe battling the evil HARM organization. Everything you might expect to be included is there: outrageous self-referential characters, an endless supply of dopey henchmen, hilarious spy gadgets (lipstick grenade, anyone?), and some of the funniest dialog this side of Borderlands 2. To wit, the following is a conversation Cate overhears between a HARM henchman and a Moroccan street merchant:
Street Merchant: You look like you need a monkey.
HARM Agent: Excuse me?
Street Merchant: I have a very fine monkey for you. Only twenty dollars, American.
HARM Agent: Sorry, I don't want a monkey.
Street Merchant: What do you mean?
HARM Agent: I don't want a monkey!
Street Merchant: Why not?
HARM Agent: Because I don't like monkeys, now get that filthy beast away from me!
Street Merchant: Are you insulting my monkey?
HARM Agent: I'm sure it's a perfectly excellent monkey, but I don't want it. Now please leave, I'm very busy.
Street Merchant: Ten dollars.
HARM Agent: No! I wouldn't want the dreadful thing even if it were free!
Street Merchant: Free? You want my children to starve?
HARM Agent: If they're hungry, I suggest you feed them the monkey.
Street Merchant: This is a valuable monkey! My wife would kill me if she knew I was offering it to you so cheap.
HARM Agent: You don't seem to understand, I DON'T WANT A MONKEY!
Street Merchant: Infidel.
The NOLF games are boisterous, exciting, immersive, and most of all, as fun (and funny) as the best video gaming experiences out there. With the recent success of Borderlands 2, I think the time is right for another colorful shooter with healthy dollops of parody and farce.
Unfortunately, from the brief Google research I’ve done I found the ownership rights to the NOLF franchise are currently trapped in the slippery blackness of limbo. The games’ publisher, Sierra Entertainment, was sold to Activision in 2006. However, from what I gather, Fox Interactive also holds a great deal of control over the franchise, so it’s unclear where the publishing rights now stand.
What’s more, the franchise is the brainchild of Monolith. Unless the studio is at the helm of recreating the NOLF series for the 2010’s, it may be better left in the Gaming Hall of Fame that resides in my brain. Otherwise, something quite terrible might be unleashed that pisses all over my precious gaming memories (see: Soldier of Fortune: Payback). The brilliant dudes and dudettes at Monolith have a lot on their plate right now, so it would be anyone’s guess if they would be up for NOLF, round #4.
We burgeoning recruits of UNITY can certainly hope and pray they are.
Never heard of NOLF? Enjoy the trailers for the first two games…