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System Shock Remake dev wants to revive another forgotten FPS classic

No One Lives Forever is the “white whale” for Star Wars Dark Forces’ Nightdive, who discuss the shooter’s return in an exclusive interview.

No One Lives Forever Remaster: A spy, Cate Archer, from Monolith FPS game NOLF

No One Lives Forever. 24 years later, the name’s inherited an unfortunate irony – if you want to play Monolith’s classic FPS game, or its sequel, A Spy in H.A.R.M.’s Way, you can’t. For all intents and purposes, one of the most inventive and well-loved shooters of the early ‘00s is dead and buried, unavailable on Steam, GOG, or anywhere else, and seemingly doomed to be abandoned. Not everyone, however, has forgotten about NOLF. Nightdive, the burgeoning studio behind the System Shock Remake, the recent Star Wars Dark Forces remaster, and dozens of revivals and relaunches of true blue PC classics, is eager to bring No One Lives Forever back. The developers’ “white whale,” according to director of business development Larry Kuperman, in an exclusive interview with PCGamesN. Reporting from GDC in San Francisco, Nightdive explains how the intricacies and obstacles of NOLF’s potential comeback could almost themselves be the basis for a spy thriller.

No One Lives Forever is an FPS game from a different age. A mix of shooting and stealth, it’s experimental, risky, and always inventive. Every level feels like a new set piece. In one section, you’re stuck in a gunfight while simultaneously falling from a plane. In the sequel, a battle with ninjas in an American trailer park is interrupted by a tornado, which whisks everyone and everything into the air.

You can still find a physical copy of No One Lives Forever 2, but you’ll need old hardware and drivers to get it running. Similarly, there’s a console port for the first game, but it’s inferior to the PC version in almost every way, and still relies on you owning and setting up an old machine. Between Star Wars Dark Forces, the complete System Shock Remake, and loving restorations of Turok, Blood, and dozens of games from PC’s golden age, Nightdive is perfectly poised to bring NOLF back. The problem, however, is contracts.

“Fox Interactive was part of Vivendi which then merged with Activision, which then split from Activision, so part of Fox is now with Disney,” Nightdive’s founder Stephen Kick explains, in an exclusive interview with PCGamesN at GDC. “And then you’ve Blizzard now with Microsoft. And then you’ve got Monolith, the original developer, now owned by Warner Bros. You’ve got all these pieces that could potentially be with one or more of these partners.”

“‘Is your contract just a publishing contract?’,” Kuperman says, outlining the hypothetical legal questions that a NOLF re-release could present. “‘Does it have an expiration date?’ You can’t tell these things without getting all the contracts. And if you don’t know all the pieces that are out there, you don’t even know all the contracts to ask for.

“It is one title that we would definitely like to bring back. It’s our white whale. We’d like to bring back all of the titles in that series. But it’s about finding the terms and getting all of the parties that could potentially be involved to say ‘yes please, go ahead.’”

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Nevertheless, there are some – extremely partial – glimmers of hope. While Nightdive is not actively pursuing a NOLF re-release at the moment, Kuperman says the studio is always “looking.” Likewise, Kick has received a communique right out of a spy movie.

“It was probably five or six years ago, at GDC, when I got a phone call from an unlisted number,” Kick explains. “And I picked it up. And they said ‘I heard that you were looking for NOLF. I might have something that can help you. But I can’t talk now.’ There are moving pieces. As leadership changes at some of these places that may or may not have rights, doors open. It’s going to be a timing thing. But I think eventually…”

Strangely enough, on the same day as Nightdive spoke with me at GDC, Kick sent a tweet to WB Games, asking if the studio could do a No One Lives Forever remaster. It’s exactly the same format as when the founder asked Disney about Star Wars Dark Forces. And hey, if it worked last time…

No One Lives Forever PC: A tweet from Nightdive founder Stephen Kick about a remake of FPS game NOLF

“Let me put it another way,” Kuperman concludes. “If the heavens opened up and an agreement dropped down that said ‘you will not get sued for doing this,’ our schedules would change dramatically.”

Take a look at some of the best old games, if you miss the classic era that gave us No One Lives Forever. You can also get ahead of 2024 with all the best upcoming PC games that are making their way to you.

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