Cool cat Cate Archer is completely compatible with your contemporary computer!
Stylish 60’s chic themed “The Operative: No One Lives Forever” (to give it its full title) is a highly polished and superbly playable FPS title. Playing as super agent Cate Archer, you can move through 60 different levels of espionage action. Agent Archer will need to skydive, swim, drive and sneak around the games varied environments. Critically acclaimed when released and now something of a cult classic, No One Lives Forever can be run perfectly on the latest Windows 7 PC’s and is still extremely playable today.
The biggest problem preventing potential agents from diving into this game is the installer itself. On 32 bit versions of Windows the original edition of the game will install, patch and run without any significant problems. However, the installer file is incompatible with 64 bit versions of Windows, even though the game itself runs just fine. To solve this problem, you can download the fixed 64 bit installer by using this link (link broken? Let me know here). The installer is written using NSIS scripting language and has only been tested with the original release of the game. Currently the installer only supports English, but the full source code is available should anyone want to improve upon it. To use the installer, download it, then insert your No One Lives Forever disc 1 into your DVD drive. Now, run the installer and follow all the on screen prompts. If you encounter any difficulties, please let us know in the comments.
Note that if you have the Game of the Year Edition of No One Lives Forever, you do not need this installer file. The Game of the Year edition includes a different installer that is fully 64 bit compatible.
For best results we strongly recommend patching the game to the latest version. There were four patches originally released for the game. The first three patches were re-released as a bundle, allowing you to update the game from version 1.0 to 1.3. Unfortunately, the patch has the same problem as the games installer file in that it is incompatible with 64 bit versions of Windows. 64 bit Windows users can download a compatible version of the patch by using this link (link broken? Let me know here).
The Game of the Year edition is already pre-patched to version 1.4 so no additional patching is required if you own this version of the game.
Windows 8 only – DirectDraw FPS fix
A big thank you to user “SuperGod” in the comments section for figuring this one out. Microsoft made some changes to the way legacy DirectDraw and DirectX games run in Windows 8. This has had various effects from actually making a few games run better to completely breaking many more. In the case of No One Lives Forever, the changes caused the games FPS (frames per second) to be capped at around 30. We PC gamers are used to butter smooth 60fps as a minimum of course, so this was rather disappointing. Thankfully though, you can now use this direct draw fix that will make the game run at full pelt on Windows 8. Simply download the zip file here (link broken? Let me know here). Once the zip file has downloaded, open it up. Inside the zip file there are two folders, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Open whichever folder matches the version of Windows you are running (presumably 8.1 for the majority of people as there’s not much reason to still be on Windows 8). Inside the folder is a file called “DDRAW.dll”. Copy this file to your No One Lives Forever game folder. By default it is in C:\Program Files\Monolith Productions\No One Lives Forever. That’s it, you can now run the game just fine on Windows 8.
Since this is a specific fix for these kinds of games, do NOT be tempted to overwrite any other copies of DDRAW.dll you may find elsewhere on your computer. To read more about what this fix does and why, see this link.
As an alternative to the above fix, you can try the DXPrimaryEmulation fix that user “SuperGod” discovered. This fix uses Microsoft’s own compatibility toolkit. We’ve written a simple installer for this fix that you can download here (link broken? Let me know here). You should use one or the other of these fixes, you do not need both. Simply use the one you find works best on your system. Uninstall one fix before switching to the other.
Tweaking Visual Quality
When you first start the game, the launcher will give you the choice of three quality presets. You can choose any of these and tweak the settings later. Because this is an old game, you can usually choose the highest quality settings even on a less powerful computer. Once in the game, there are several options you can tweak under the “Options” menu.
Display options – Use this menu to set the games resolution. Choose a resolution close to your monitors native resolution and set Texture Depth to 32. Note – If you are using the Widescreen patch as detailed below, do not open this menu as it will reset the changes you make when applying the widescreen patch.
Sound – Use this menu to change sound volume. Be sure to set sound effects quality to High.
Controls – You can configure the games controls here. The game includes joypad support, but you may need a third party utility like XPadder to get it working correctly.
Game – The options in this menu can be set to taste and do not generally affect performance.
Performance – This menu contains the performance settings that affect how good the game looks. Enter this menu and then click on “Display” to get to the advanced display settings. From here, choose “Texture Resolution”. You will now find yourself on a screen with six green slider controls. Ramp these controls all up to the maximum for full visual quality.
Make sure all special effects are turned to “On”. On our copy of the game, Mirrors were disabled no matter what we tried, if we figure out how to enable this setting in future the article will be updated.
Finally, enable “Sound filtering effects” if desired. The game will warn you that this will have a negative impact on performance, but since the game is ten years old it is unlikely to tax a modern PC too much. If you find that the game does run too slowly after making these changes, you can always revert back to the pre-set quality settings by opening the Performance menu and choosing the appropriate performance preset.
If you have an Nvidia or ATI graphics card, it may be possible to further enhance the games visuals by forcing antialiasing on in the game. This smooths out the jagged edges of the objects in the game. On our Nvidia equipped test machine, we opened the Nvidia control panel, went to “Manage 3D Settings”, selected “Program Settings” and then added the “lithtech.exe” executable from the games installation directory as a custom program. We then selected “Override any application setting” and “32x CSAA” as our antialiasing options. This slightly improved the graphical quality in game, smoothing out those noticeable jaggy edges on the image. See the documentation that came with your particular graphics card for more details on how to do this.
Widescreen support is available for No One Lives Forever. The caveat is that some of the weapons appear stretched as agent Archer wields them. If you choose not to play in widescreen and you have a widescreen monitor or TV, make sure your TV does not stretch the image, there should be black bars at either side of the screen. The full discussion of the widescreen patch can be found on the Widescreen Gaming forum here. To apply the unofficial widescreen patch, download the file here, then follow these steps.
1) Unzip the nolfdll.zip file to a temporary folder on your PC. On modern versions of Windows, you can do this simply by double clicking on the zip file, which will open it like a regular folder. Now copy the contents to any folder on your PC.
2) Locate the No One Lives Forever program folder on your PC. By default it is in C:\Program Files\Monolith Productions\No One Lives Forever. Open this folder in Windows Explorer.
3) Find the file NOLFDLL.REZ – If you can’t find this file, you may have the file extension hidden. See this page for more information on this. Rename this file to NOLFDLL.OLD. On the Game of the Year edition this file might not be present at all, so simply skip this step and move directly onto step 4 below.
4) Copy the NOLFDLL.REZ from the zip file you downloaded and extracted earlier into the “custom” sub-folder in your No One Lives Forever directory. If you can’t find a “custom” sub folder, then create one.
5) Start the game from it’s shortcut but don’t click on “Launch” just yet. Instead, click on “Advanced”. This will open the NOLF – Advanced Options window. In the bottom of this window there is a section called “Command-Line”. enter the following line of text into this box:-
-rez nolfdll.rez ++screenwidth "1920" ++screenheight "1080" ++screendepth "32"
You can type this in manually or copy and paste. If you want another resolution other than 1080p, edit the command accordingly. For instance, if you want to play at 720p, edit the line above and substitute the number “1920” for “1280” and “1080” for “720”. Once it is done, the window should appear as shown below:-
6) Click on the “Customize” button. You should see a window with “NOLFDLL.REZ” listed on the left. Click on this and then click on “Add >”. Finally, tick/check the box labelled “Always load these rez files”. The window should then look like the one shown below.
7) Now click on “OK”, then “OK” again and then “Launch”. The game should now launch in your chosen widescreen resolution, enjoy!
Problems saving games or settings – Like many older games, No One Lives Forever places its save game files and various configuration files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\NOLF) or manually edit the permissions on the “No One Lives Forever” folder. If you used the default installation directory from the original installer, the games folder can be found at “C:\Program Files\Monolith Productions\No One Lives Forever”. A tutorial on how to edit folder permissions can be found here.
- Game may crash on exit (Windows 7/8 x64).
- Widescreen patch makes currently used weapon appear out of proportions.
- Levels containing underwater sections may cause issues on some graphics cards (see the comments below for more details).
Multiplayer, communities and other notes
Being something of a cult classic, the game still has a small but dedicated following. This community run multiplayer games and can advise new players on the best way to join in the fun. New agents should visit Unity HQ immediately!
The popular gaming utility Evolve supports No One Lives Forever, allowing you to take screenshots and videos as well as chat to your friends and browse the web all without having to leave the game.
Click on any screenshot for a larger view:-