No one will sell No One Lives Forever, so let?s download it

No One Lives Forever, and its sequel A Spy In HARM?s Way, are infamously unavailable. Through the meticulous horrors of ownership rights across multiple publishers, and an apparent unwillingness by any involved to see it resolved, it?s not possible to buy either classic game anywhere.

Well guess what ? there?s a way to get them anyway, and we super-encourage you to do so.

We have long lamented the unavailability of the No One Lives Forever games. I was recently moaning about it, sadly remembering the peculiar disappearance of the implied Night Dive version. Shortly after I posted that, Kotaku?s Kirk Hamilton got in touch with me to point out a splendid bit of digging he?d done a couple of years back to find out what happened to all that. Which was this:

Night Dive applied for the trademark since no one else held it, and confident they?d manage to get a straight answer out of people involved, had gotten access to the source code for both games. Things were looking positive, they were even working on marketing material, until the tangled mess of ownership proved impossible to disembroil. With three contenders ? 20th Century Fox, Activision and Warner Bros ? Night Dive sensibly assumed it really belonged to developer Monolith?s now owners, Warner. So they got in touch. But Warner quickly said Activision owned some of it too, and wanted them involved. Right, fine said Night Dive, and went over there. Activision then told them that, well, maybe they owned it a bit, they weren?t really sure, but if they did the contract wasn?t stored digitally, and was probably lost in a box somewhere. And Fox said exactly the same. I?m really not making this up.

But then Night Dive?s trademark application was made complicated when Warner Bros, despite refusing to claim ownership of the game, applied to extend their expired trademark of the name. Sigh. Night Dive reportedly tried to understand why, made repeated attempts to negotiate, but Warner showed no interest at all in even trying to make a deal, no matter how sweet Night Dive made it.

So where did this all leave things? In a place we called Stupid. Fox seemingly wanted money up front to even look through their filing cabinets (which they?d repay if they found they had no rights), so when Night Dive said no to that generous offer, Fox responded by saying (and I paraphrase) ?You can bet your bum we?ll look in our filing cabinets for free if you start selling it.? Activision just shrugged. And Warner? Well, those treats sent Night Dive a ?scary letter?, threatening to throw lawyers at them if they pursued re-releasing the game, despite the concurrent negotiations they were involved in. SIGH. Night Dive eventually managed to get the two parts of Warner to actually talk to each other, and sensibly ask themselves if they wanted to work out a licensing deal, which resulted in their saying? No.


As Kotaku reported Night Dive saying in 2015, ?They come back with a response that said they?re not looking to either publish the game themselves at this time, or to partner with us.?

Night Dive were generous, saying people who tried to help (and not all did) were friendly about it. But you can be friendly and entirely unhelpful, it seems.

The end result being, no one knows who owns NOLF, but no one involved is willing to relinquish their potential rights for the sake of seeing a game they?ve no interest whatsoever in selling being available to buy.

What a joyous, wonderful system, eh?

But there?s an alternative! Some anonymous heroes are not only risking the wraths of all involved by distributing both games, for free, but are putting out patched versions that?ll run on your snazzy new PC, even in resolutions like 3440×1440 ? I know, cos I just played it like that. And gosh, NOLF2 looks good in HD!

I discovered this via a comment on a recent post about Tron 2.0, another Monolith classic that Disney are looking after well. Huge thanks to one SimonSays.

I?ve had a few issues. NOLF is quite crashy when I press Capslock, of all things. With NOLF2 I?ve had trouble with the menus not fitting on the screen at higher resolutions. But I?ve not spent long fiddling to try to fix these issues.

RPS ordinarily doesn?t encourage downloading unofficial versions of games, but at the same time, we?re strong advocates behind the concept of abandonware, where individuals and groups preserve and maintain the availability of games that are no longer available for legitimate purchase. NOLF and its sequel are certainly much younger games than would normally qualify for that, but my goodness, all the potential owners of the game sure have gone out of their way to ensure they can?t profit from it. These games have been available for over a year, and no one?s done anything yet.

And heck, if any of the companies involved were to step forward to object, they?d rather be positioning themselves as having suddenly resolved the rights issues they claimed they could not untangle! They?d be surely ready to release their official version just in time and then we could point you to that one instead.

We?ve reached out to the distributors of the game for comment.

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Harry?s ? the name to know when it comes to shaving

New grooming concept, Harrys, likes to think of itself as making the chore of shaving that little bit easier, generally, or as the co-founders ANDY KATZ-MAYFIELD and JEFF RAIDER(above) put it, ?We started Harry?s because we wanted to make shaving better ? for ourselves and guys everywhere.?

Andy and Jeff both native Bostonians met whilst at a summer internship with, international management consulting brand, Bain & Company. A number of years later whilst on a business trip in Los Angeles, Andy had a bad store experience. He found himself struggling to shop from a locked case of shave supplies, then found himself overpaying for them at the checkout counter. His frustration prompted a to call Jeff ?and thus, Harry?s was born.

Today, Andy oversees Harry?s global business operations, focusing on growing and scaling the team, distribution, supply chain, manufacturing and research and development and Jeff oversees Harry?s marketing, technology, customer experience, retail functions and everything else that directly impacts Harry?s customers on day-to- day basis.

From the get go, Harry?s razor blades have been engineered in Germany in partnership with an almost one hundred year old company comprised of extremely talented craftsmen who have been manufacturing some of the world?s finest blades for almost a century. They had such a great relationship with the factory that when Harry?s turned one year old, they completed a truly transformative transaction by acquiring the factory. As a result of the acquisition, they are now one of the only vertically integrated shaving brands in the world, owning and controlling the value chain from manufacturing to point of sale to fulfillment and customer experience. Since the two companies merged, they will double the capacity of the factory by 2018, and invest over 100 million euros into the local community.

Now Harry?s also over shave plans and their trail set for new customers., but they are not exclusively a shave plan business and customers can also make one off purchases from the site if that works better for them.

Harry?s Shave Plans offer a seamless way for their customers to order their shave supplies based on their individual grooming needs. The brand tailor delivery frequency based on how often you shave and deliver the products direct to their customers home, allowing the plans to be changed or cancelled at anytime.

Customers can sign up to receive the Trial Set for only £2.95, which includes the Truman handle, a set of blades and foaming shave gel. Following the trial they will be automatically enrolled in a subscription plan which they can modify or cancel ahead of their first payment.

Five deaths in Caveblazers? daily challenge

Every day for a week I played Caveblazers? daily challenge and recorded my attempt. I called it the Daily Death and posted them to the RPS Supporter program, but now I?ve now made all five videos available to all. Come watch me struggle to talk while fighting orcs in a roguelike platformer.

June 19th

Caveblazers [official site] has grown on me a lot since I first played it, to the point now where it?s pretty much the only game I?m playing. Some of my frustrations with it have faded as I?ve grown better at it or come to understand some of its systems more, and my appreciation of the things it does well has increased also. Basically: it got better the more distance I got from playing Dead Cells all the time. Not because Caveblazers is worse than Dead Cells and it needed that distance, but because Caveblazers is its own thing and I needed the distance in order to see it that way.

Today?s daily didn?t go great, due to a particularly tough set of starting traits and because of my hamfisted attempts to deal with bats and those blue, jumping, exploders. I was having a bad day, I guess.

June 20th

I like games that have ?game-breaking? items. By which I mean, games with certain items or facets that seem so wildly different or powerful that they seem like they?d break the game, only they don?t. The jetpack in Spelunky is one example. It allows you to hover over all the enemies and spike traps that had formed so much of the game?s challenge beforehand, effectively skipping parts of each level? But if you?ve ever used the jetpack, you know it?s not quite so simple. You?ll still fall on some spikes and die.

Today I found a weapon in Caveblazers [official site] that feels game-breaking.

The Xanadu Blaster reduces your move speed and jump height substantially, and only does 3-5 damage, but fires ?extremely? fast and with such force that it can propel your character around. This means you want to have your back against the wall and just let rip while enemies come into your path, and it means you can use it to fly. A little like a jetpack.

It?s doesn?t quite let you skip anything, and old challenges remain, but it?s so absurdly different to anything I?ve ever encountered in Caveblazers that I?d count it in that game-breaking category. It broke my perception of what I thought the game?s limits were. Here?s today?s video:

The thing about weapons like these is that they?re so good that I desperately want them again as soon as I?ve died. In Spelunky, that?s possible: if you play well, gather enough money, and find your way to black market, then you can probably get a jetpack. That?s great. You find it once by accident and then it becomes a sub-goal, and a new motivation to keep playing. Caveblazers offers no similar path towards securing its weapons. You get them as random drops, or you don?t get them at all. That?s a real shame ? I?ve played hours and hours of Caveblazers now, this is the first time I?ve seen this weapon, and I might never see it again before I lose interest in the game?

June 21st

I?ll let you in on a secret. I think my love affair with Caveblazers is coming to an end. It?s been a few weeks now of playing only this, but last night I started booting up other games in search of something different to play. That?s a sign.

I think it?s because, while I?ve definitely got better at the game, I haven?t made substantial advances in how far I?m able to get through its levels. I?ve still never beaten a second boss on a single life, and more importantly, there are particular kinds of boss I?ve never beaten at all. Since which boss you face in each instance is randomised, and since defeating those bosses requires a different set of skills to the rest of the game (learning their attack patterns, mainly), getting better at fighting them is much, much slower than the progress I?ve made at learning all its other systems.

I?m still having fun in the two ?worlds? I?ve been able to reach, but I know the contours of their enemies and items so well now that it?s a little less exciting than it was.

Which doesn?t mean I no longer like the game, or will no longer play it, but I?ll probably stop playing it quite so much. There will be time for other games.

(I?m back on the Dead Cells.)

June 22nd

Today?s is maybe the shortest video yet, as I survived only eight minutes and into level two this time around. I find the more I talk, the less well I do at the jumping and fighting of the game. I?m also, as discussed yesterday, finding that my enthusiasm for the game is beginning to wane. That might have contributed to my haphazard performance.

Only one day left. I?ll try to make that a good one.

June 23rd

A couple of days ago, someone in the comments asked why I never drink the potions I collect during each run. They?re unidentified liquids that have unpredictable consequences: they might boost your stats or replenish your health, or they might set you on fire, poison you, slow you down. The actual ratio of good:bad is around 50/50, with only a handful of the bad risking your life, but those aren?t the reason I don?t drink them.

The reason is that the good aren?t good or interesting enough to compensate for the risk. In the roguelike Brogue, I?m obsessed with potions, because their unpredictable outcomes almost always make the game more interesting. In Caveblazers, it?s either, ?Oh, I?m inconvenienced or dead,? or it?s ?I?m better off than I was before, but only slightly.? There are no instances in the game where the latter justifies the risk of the former.

It?s been a week and I am still kicking this game. This game I obviously love.

Thanks to anyone who watched and commented on the posts this past week. I am not a natural at this, or comfortable doing it, but it?s been fun. I?m going to go play something else now.

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Five Nights at Freddy?s creator jumps back from series

PLAY FREE BIRD lol rofl lmao

Several years ago, I went through a list of over 1,000 fan-made games inspired by Five Nights at Freddy?s. And that was before the jumpscare ?em up series really took off. Several games (and one troubled spin-off) later, creator Scott Cawthon has confirmed that he was working on a Five Nights 6 of sorts ? but confirmed this by announcing its cancellation. The pressure of fan expectations was too high, he says, so he?s stepping back to spend more time with his family and make something else. Sounds sensible.

?For the last month or so I?ve been dropping hints about a new game; and it?s true that I?d been working on one (call it FNaF 6 if you?d like.)? Cawthon said in Friday?s announcement. He continued:

?But after forcing myself to keep working on it day after day, I realized something- I just don?t want to work on this. With each game?s release, I think the expectations get higher and higher for the next, and rightfully so. Each game SHOULD be better than the last! But that pressure starts to mount, and I fear that I?ve been neglecting other things in my life for the sake of trying to keep up with those mounting expectations.

?So, after giving this a lot of thought; I?ve decided that I?m going to stop working on it. I?m not going to reveal anything else about what the game was, and I?ve asked other people involved to never divulge anything either. It?s just not going to be talked about.?

Fair does!

Cawthon says he wants to ?get back to what made game-making enjoyable in the first place? and has a few ideas for games that might be fun for fans. ?Maybe I?ll try my hand at a pizzeria tycoon game, who knows.? And he?d like to make a VR game, and the Five Nights movie is still in the works at Blumhouse (who?ve produced most big modern horror movies, from Paranormal Activity to Get Out), and he fancies a third Five Nights book, and? look, he?s going to step back from the main games.

If you don?t know much about Cawthon, do check out his interview with Geeks Under Grace from 2014. He started out making explicitly Christian games but those flopped, he struggled with depression, and he ultimately came to make Five Nights at Freddy?s after someone said a character he made for another game looked like a scary animatronic. With Five Nights now a megahit, it?s been quite the trip.

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Ride hoverbikes & eat ramen in shootracer Desert Child

Here?s something to mollify the ceaseless march towards decrepitude. Desert Child [ page] is a stylish sidescrolling shooter where you ride a hoverbike across the sandy remains of a half-deserted earth in an attempt to escape the planet and fulfill your racing dreams on Mars. You need $500 to get a ticket and you?ll need to keep your bike in good working nick and your belly full of cheap noodles while you?re at it. I?ve had a go. It?s not easy (it even feels a little broken in terms of balance) but it is still in early development, so cut a hoverbiker some slack and look at this phwoar trailer.

It looks sharp, as you can see. You boost forward and shoot TVs to collect the money that spills out, then you need to fill up your ammo mid-race by approaching the back of a truck along the way. You have some opponents trying to do the same and it quickly introduces more obstacles like machine gun bots and flamethrower turrets. In between these races you need to keep your bike fixed from any damage it has taken and eat some cheap food, otherwise your bike?s boost charges slower and you become sloppy. It?s more of a good-looking prototype at the minute, but here?s how the developer Oscar Brittain sees things panning out:

It?s the story of a broke young racer who fights through gangsters, bounty hunters and pancake cravings to enter the Grand Prix and get off Earth before it E-X-P-L-O-D-E-S (metaphorically).

The player begins their story on a ruined Earth, with just a few days to get enough money to get to Mars. From there, you?ll win races, customize your bike, and earn fans, but at the same time, you?ll have to work jobs, cook dinner, and pay rent. Nothing?s free in Desert Child.

He?s definitely broke. I got immediately trashed on the first race and was forced to pawn a load of bikebits for repair money and noodles, then the next race was a disaster in which I seemed to lose the ability to boost completely and became stuck in a position where I could never catch up to the ammo truck. I?m still not sure how boost exactly functions in-race, hopefully the whole thing will be better explained in future versions. It may simply be my bad reflexes. There is a lot going on in these contests. Anyway, there you go, a small freebie to distract you from the encroaching destitution of your frail human form. Enjoy!

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Has Assassin?s Creed managed to find itself during its gap year?

sliding down a pyramid is probably a lot like falling down a hill

During the Assassin?s Creed: Origins [official site] demo I played at E3, I pressed the wrong button and thought I?d broken the game. I was trying to switch to my bow while sneaking and I accidentally meditated, causing time to fast forward. The sun wheeled around the sky, sank below the horizon, and night fell. The developer guiding me through the experience ? an environmental artist ? was slightly taken aback, but we rolled with my mistake and I got an accidental peek at the nightlife of Ptolemaic Egypt. Colour me intrigued.

It feels strange to refer to Origins as some kind of dramatic return, since Assassin?s Creed hasn?t been gone long enough for anyone to really miss it. In the grand scheme of things, taking a year off from the release churn was the equivalent of telling the family you?re nipping out for some cigarettes and a pint of milk, and then genuinely nipping to the corner shop and coming straight home.

We hadn?t been fretting or mourning or planning for a future without Assassin?s Creed; I dare say most of us weren?t even wondering when that pint of milk would be arriving. Ubisoft do tend to keep the fridge well-stocked with their particular brand. Whether it?s the full fat of Far Cry, some semi-skimmed Clancy or the Soybean variant of The Crew, there?s always something fresh on the shelf.

Assassin?s Creed was past its sell by date though, it seemed. I found Syndicate thoroughly enjoyable, mainly thanks to its wonderful city and the fun-loving characters who felt like the Spideys of the AssCreed world in among all the serious business. Even though I had a blast with it, I?d never argue that it wasn?t formulaic to a fault though, and I was keen to see how Origins would refresh the series.

In what is becoming a mantra as I write up my experiences with E3 demos, I can?t answer the big questions. The trailers and dev diaries will tell you that this is the biggest Assassin?s Creed game ever, that it introduces RPG aspects, that the world feels more alive than ever, and that the combat system is much-improved. Except they won?t say ?much-improved?, they?ll say ?dynamic? or ?visceral? or something like that.

I?ll say ?much-improved? though. There?s an arena mode, where you can test out combat while blood-thirsty crowds cheer you on. I played four rounds, culminating in a boss battle against a gigantic bundle of muscles in the shape of a man, who I killed by dodging around him until he stumbled or charged into five or six spinning blade traps. In the earlier rounds, I dodged and parried and clobbered in a way that felt pretty damn good, and made me realise something that I hadn?t really considered before?

I don?t know what kind of game Assassin?s Creed is supposed to be. The obvious answer, after all these years, is that an Assassin?s Creed game is simply supposed to be an Assassin?s Creed game, and perhaps that?s true; a little subgenre falling under the Ubi open world umbrella.

Assassin?s Creed games have never been stealth games, even though there are stealthy bits in some of the missions and there?s a whole set of ideas around hiding in crowds and jumping on targets from above. The sneaking has never been particularly satisfying or precise, and if I can hop, skip and jump across rooftops, and wristblade the heck out of anyone who sees me, why bother with fiddly shadow-hugging?

If I were going to guess what an Assassin?s Creed game might be without playing one, my mind would immediately jump to Historical Hitman, but that?s nowhere near the mark. Assassinations are a small part of the game rather than the entirety of it, as in IO?s series. And where Hitman is a sandbox killing simulator (a snuffbox, if you will), Assassin?s Creed is more an open world climbing and running and jumping and collecting simulator. It?s vague. Against other Ubisoft games, where Far Cry is very much an action game, Assassin?s Creed is a bit of everything, doing lots of things quite well, but no one thing exceptionally well.

Actually, I?ll make an exception for its environments, which are? exceptional. Syndicate?s London and Unity?s Paris in particular. Black Flag has some lovely coastlines too, but it?s notable for being the Assassin?s Creed game that people who don?t like Assassin?s Creed games can enjoy. I?m pretty sure that?s because the boats and piratical stuff give it a centre; that?s what the game is about. That?s its reason to exist, beyond the stealth and the collecting and the combat and the running and the jumping.

And now that I?ve taken a detour longer than a person trying to assassinate the head of a globe-threatening conspiracy who gets distracted by a feather on a distant rooftop, we?re back at Origins.

The combat is fun and far more skill-based than in previous games, there?s a proper RPG-like loot system for weapons and other bits and bobs, and I played an entire mission, and explored the surrounding area, and didn?t once run up the side of a building. In the tiny town I was exploring, there were no buildings tall enough to stretch my parkour muscles, so my attention turned to the people rather than the structures.

They?re good people, stopping to haggle and natter, and my guide told me they?ll follow basic routines, changing with the time of day.

I found that out for myself when I inadvertently meditated for half a day.

At night, the streets were empty, bar a couple of stragglers or ne?er do wells. I was swimming back to shore from a boat I?d just been investigating, in search of religious statues recovered from the water where they?d been lost. Job done and guards evaded, I dived into the water and headed back to town, where the information I?d uncovered could be used to convince a nasty priest to stop beating the bloke he?d accused of stealing the statues. The mission didn?t adjust to time of day, so when I reached the town square I saw the priest still whipping the poor guy. Eight to ten hours on the lash. Barbaric, and an unfortunate though understandable crack in the illusion of time passing.

Elsewhere, night time was very convincing, and no more so than in the fishing boat that nearly killed me. When I?d headed out to the ship, minutes ago in real-time but hours ago in the game world, the tiny dock had been fairly busy, with little one-person boats heading in and out. I stole one to make my way off-shore.

At night, everything was still. It probably goes without saying that Origins looks splendid, and I?m a sucker for day/night cycles, so seeing the occasional blaze of torchlight reflected in the water made me stop to admire the sight. I was treading water at the time and the sound of creaking wood was just loud enough to tip me off as one late-night fisherman returned home, almost punting his little vessel straight through my head.

I managed to paddle away, unseen, and watched as he parked his boat and started checking over the fish he?d caught. It was a lovely moment, near-death experience and all, that gave me hope that Origins? enormous world won?t skimp on the little details. Whether improved combat, horse-riding and character progression (through all of that stat-loaded loot) will be enough to make any one part of the game exceptional, I can?t say. But early impressions are of a game that might be shifting away from a focus on the mostly-automated parkour for more considered use of abilities, from combat to stealth, and a more studied observation of environments and NPC behaviours.

How that fits into such a sprawling world, I?m not entirely sure. In fact, after its gap year, I?m not sure if Assassin?s Creed has found itself or not. It?s found a new look, a new culture, a new set of stuff to collect. Hopefully the new stuff is actually meaningful, and I think it might be, even if it?s only giving ?+4 to accuracy?. That?s better than ?+1 to the number of these things you?ve picked up?.

It certainly seems to be a little bit better at all of the things that an Assassin?s Creed game does, and that?s probably enough. It?ll be enough for me, if this recreation of Egypt is as fascinating and beautiful as the little slice I saw, but in all of the sprawl, I can?t help but hope that the new RPG elements provide a clearer sense of identity.

Assassin?s Creed: Origins is out October 27th.

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