They Don’t Make Tutorial Levels Like No One Lives Forever Anymore

If you want to look at how much things have changed over the last decade and a half of gaming, look no further than the tutorial level.

I love tutorial levels. Everything’s new and exciting, and there’s a new trick or move to learn around every corner. And there were no more glorious tutorials than during the rise of the PC FPS in the late 90s and early 2000s.

One of my favourite tutorial levels is above. It’s the introduction to Monolith’s 2000 first-person shooter The Operative: No One Lives Forever. Longtime Kotaku readers will know that this game is near and dear to my heart, and after a lengthy Twitter digression last night I decided the time had come to dig up my old copies of it and its sequel and play through them again.

(I know, I know, I’ve already listed a billion games I’m playing during the July doldrums. But these ones need to be played.)

I’ll have more on both NOLF games soon on Kotaku, but for the time being, I just wanted to reflect on this glorious introduction tutorial. First, the game shows you how to open a door. Then, how to talk to a dude. Finally, how to skip a cutscene. That’s it! End tutorial!

While recent games have gotten some mileage out of tutorial-humor lately (I’m looking at you, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon), I can’t imagine a modern game doing something like this. Even No One Lives Forever 2 embedded its tutorial within its opening level.

But I’ll always love the tutorial training gauntlets of old. Especially when they feature NPCs wearing Groucho glasses.


  • Damn rights limbo- I always wanted to play this game but it’s disappeared into the aether.

  • I don’t know if it was the very first, but it was the first game that grabbed me with ambient henchman dialogue if you stayed stealth. It was awesome.

    • The lecturer on alcohol consumption as it relates to criminal sociology, the debate of nature-vs-nurture, and humanity’s instinctive desire to form cohesive social structure still ranks as one of the best pieces of AI chatter outside of Deus Ex.

  • NOLF 1+2 were 2 of the most memorable games I have ever played. It is a shame that there will never be a 3.

    • My strongest memory of them though is how long they took to load!! Oh, the days of games actually pushing your hardware..

  • Best tutorial? Half Life. Separate to the main game yet tied in, contextually. The demo was awesome too, come to think of it.

  • I was always disappointed there wasn’t a part 3… granted there was the spinoff game, but no part 3 🙁 le sigh.

  • Deus Ex was up there, too. It informs you of all your possible skills and routes, and then gives you a small sandbox at the end to complete in the way you see fit.

    Even though I’ve played the hell out of that game, whenever I replay it I still do the tutorial.

  • Contract Jack was really average. It stopped idiots returning games because they refused to play as a girl (I shit you not), but it made everything so damn bland.

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