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Have You Played... The Operative: No One Lives Forever?

No One Has A Clue

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Perhaps the reason the rights to make a No One Lives Forever game are permanently stuck in limbo is because everyone keeps looking for them under ‘N’, forgetting that the name by which everyone refers to this fabbo FPS was only ever the post-colon tagline.

Seventeen years on, and NOLF is still absolutely bloody brilliant. Funny, smart, and most importantly, a really excellent shooter. Back when games were allowed to exist because they wanted to be funny.

As I wrote in 2009 for RPS’s new dad, Eurogamer,

“You simply couldn’t make No One Lives Forever today. You couldn’t because it would be too long, require far too many assets, and most significantly of all, risk all the cost of development on a comedy game – a genre that no longer exists. Its international scale, its enormous volume of content and its emphasis on making you laugh add up to something that feels like it’s from another age – an age before an FPS lasted six hours and cost $250 million.”

It’s such a giant shame that the adventures of Cate Archer ended after only two splendid games, with Warner buying Monolith, and no one really knowing who properly owns the rights to it. Activision thought it might belong to them, but weren’t sure, because Vivendi bought Fox Interactive, and then that all got called Activision/Blizzard, or something, honestly I find it hard to care. And in all that muddle, no one can find anything saying it’s theirs to sell. That’s good, isn’t it? Isn’t everything brilliant.

Then in 2014 there was a buzz of excitement. It was noticed that Night Dive, they who somehow found and claimed the rights to the similarly buried System Shock, had registered trademarks for it. We were sure that meant a re-release! Except no re-release ever happened, and that was the last we ever heard of it.

Of course, the surest way to find out who really owns something is to start selling it and see who sues the loudest. Maybe it’s time to try that?

And you know what? I’m barely kidding about the whole “The Operative”/”No One Lives Forever” thing. Has anyone actually checked to see if it’s all in the ‘O’ drawer?

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Who am I?

John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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