The Assignment
The Assignment
Mission guide
Misfortune in Morocco

"The Assignment" is the very first level of the award-winning game The Operative: No One Lives Forever. Consisting of three scenes (two of which are playable), the level introduces the player to the game's main protagonist Cate Archer, an aspiring field operative and secret agent in the employ of the international security agency UNITY. Archer's nemesis Dmitrij Volkov who appears in all three games of the NOLF franchise, is also introduced. Scene 3 serves primarily as a tutorial and prepares the player for the first mission of the game.


A crisis has arisen. UNITY's undercover operatives are being killed off by an unknown assailant. It seems likely that there's a traitor within the agency.

Report to the war room for a full briefing on the situation and a tactical overview on your upcoming mission.

Do not be late.

Following the briefing, stop by the training facility to hone your skills.


Scene 1Edit

9:30 pm. September 11, 1967.
Ten miles from Irkutsk, Siberia, U.S.S.R.

An undercover agent stands outside a lonely outpost right in front of a halted truck. As he lights a cigarette, he is shot in the back by a sinister figure with an eye-patch. The assassin then leaves a red lily on the body of his victim before walking away.

Two days later...
French Embassy, Santiago, Chile

In the cover of night, another secret agent sneaks into the ambassador's office and opens the safe hidden behind a painting. Unbeknownst to him, the assassin approaches him from behind and strangles him. A red lily is left next to his dead body.

The following evening...
South Harbour, Helsinki, Finland

Several gun shots are fired and a third agent hastily runs out of the docks. He quickly jumps into his car and speeds off, revealing yet another red lily which had been placed beneath the vehicle. As it passes through the gate, the car explodes and overturns. The assassin stands silently on the road and gazes at the wreckage. The opening credits roll.

Scene 2Edit

Residence of Cate Archer

While in the shower, Archer receives a phone call from her good friend and mentor Bruno Lawrie. Lawrie, who is just back from a mission in France, invites Archer out to dinner. They arrange to meet at Maximillian's in half an hour.

After dinner, Archer reveals that she is not happy with her current job claiming that it's not what she thought it would be. She complains about being sent on what she considers menial tasks such as wiretapping and eavesdropping. Lawrie reminds her that the committee is 'old fashioned' and that Archer is the first female operative UNITY has ever employed. He also mentions the fact that at least her job keeps her out of jail, revealing an episode of Archer's past when she was a cat burglar and petty thief. He encourages her to be patient and that no one owes her anything. She retorts that all she wants is a challenge and a chance to prove herself. They are interrupted by a beeping pager that summons them both to headquarters. Lawrie says he'll meet Archer there after a "quick errand" he needs to perform.

In the briefing room of UNITY Headquarters, we meet the agency's two executive directors: Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith. While the former is more optimistic and willing to give her a chance, Smithy is quite cynical and not at all impressed with Agent Archer. It is therefore advisable to answer politely when given the option of how to respond to his remarks. Choosing the friendlier options will earn the player two Intelligence items, which will help to improve the player's ranking for the level. However, the more abrupt answers probably reflect Cate's personality more accurately and have a comedic affect due to Archer's cheek and Smithy's irritation.

Before the briefing, Lawrie and Mr. Smith trade verbal jabs regarding Lawrie's current status and how Mr. Smith "voluntarily" resigned from field duty in favor of an administrative position. He express his opinion that the aging Lawrie should do the same, but is briskly refuted. Following these "pleasantries", Archer and Lawrie are informed that no less than seven operatives have been killed within the past ten days leading the agency to believe that there is a traitor within their midst. The red lily, or 'Regal Finale' to be more precise, helps to identify the assassin as Dmitrij Volkov, a former NKVD and SMERSH agent who is currently believed to be working for an organization calling itself "H.A.R.M." as its Director of Executive Action.

Archer and Lawrie receive instructions to take the next flight to Morocco for a very important assignment. Mr. Smith reminds Agent Archer of his reluctance to send her on this mission and is only doing so because there are no other agents available at this time.

On her way out, Mr. Jones asks what H.A.R.M. stands for. Archer replies that she hasn't figured that out yet. They are advised to stop by the training facility before their departure and to be careful.

Scene 3Edit

Archer enters the training facilities or "Toy Shop" and meets Santa, the gadget maker. He instructs her in some basic and advanced field tactics, tests her skills in the shooting range and introduces her to some of his latest creations. On her way out, some colleagues wish her a pleasant journey and ask her to "come back in one piece".

Memorable quotesEdit

Lawrie "It's never fun paying one's dues, but we all have to endure a bit of frustration and tedium now and then. It builds character."
Archer "I think I've paid my bloody dues."
Lawrie "Is that what you think? God knows I loathe sermons, but I'll tell you right now that you'll never stop paying your dues. Not ever. I'm sorry you're not happy, but you might as well get use to it. Nobody owes you a damn thing."

(as Archer tries to enter observation room 1 outside the briefing room) "Access prohibited. You do not have clearance for the area."
(she tries again) "Access prohibited. This area is off limits."
(and again) "Access prohibited. This area is restricted."
(again) "Access prohibited. Might I suggest that if you are not content with your security clearance, you take up the matter with your supervisor. In the meantime, please refrain from attempting to enter restricted areas. Thank you."
(once more) "Access is still prohibited. Access is still prohibited."
(and finally) "I'm not letting you in here."

-Computer voice


Accounting (UNITY)Ammo boxAtomic Retroscopic AnalyzerBaron DumasBaroness DumasBarretteBody ArmorBody RemoverBriefcase Rocket LauncherBruno LawrieCarCatCate ArcherChessChileClandestine Operations (UNITY)ClancyCoinCarringtonCT-180 Utility LauncherDmitrij VolkovEuropeExplosiveFinlandFizzy SodaFlashlightFranceGulagH.A.R.M.Ham SandwichHampton CarbineHampton MPL 9mm SMGHeathrow AirportHelsinkiIntelligence itemsIrkutskKamchatkaKievLeningradLeonLilyLockLondonMagnus ArmstrongMaximillian'sMoroccoMr. JonesMr. SmithMs. KavanaughNew YorkNKVDOffice of Strategic ServicesOrange FizzP-421 Canine PersuaderPagerPetri .38 Airweight RevolverSafeSantaSanta's WorkshopSantiagoSecurity CameraSecurity ClearanceShepherd Arms 9mmSiberiaSJR Mapmakers IncSMERSHSoviet UnionTasty ColaTechnology Division (UNITY)TelephoneTokyoTom GoodmanTR 60TR 61TruckUnited KingdomUNITYUNITY HeadquartersUNITY NewsletterVacuum CleanerWalterWet workWineWiretapWorld War II

References from the opening creditsEdit

Andrew HeffernanBarbara DiricksonDavid StalkerFox InteractiveGuy WhitmoreJamil MullenJenna HawkinsJeff SteitzerJohn Patrick LowrieJock BlaneyKen BoyntonKit HarrisLithScopeMark DiasMike MadeoyMonolith ProductionsNigel NealeRich RagsdaleRoger CurtisScott Burns


  • Scene 1 consists solely of a cutscene and is the only scene of the game which is not playable
  • The car of the third UNITY agent is a 1963 or 1964 Chevrolet Nova SS.
  • Dmitrij Volkov assumes the role of villain immediately upon his first appearance on screen. A role which he maintains throughout the franchise. While there are many other antagonists, these aren't introduced (or exposed) until much later in the game.
  • The beginning of Scene 2 marks the only occasion where we get a glimpse of Archer's private residence.
  • While Archer is "introduced" to various weapons and gadgets in Scene 3, some of these (and others) can be seen lying around in her bathroom at the beginning of Scene 2.
  • Ms. Kavanaugh, UNITY's receptionist and Mr. Jones' secretary, makes her first and only personal appearance in the entire game. In other levels and missions she is only heard over the intercom or through the telephone.
  • On the way to the briefing room, one comes across an office with a sleeping employee. Hitting the window will wake her up.
  • In her detailed profile of Volkov, Cate mentions that he "resurfaced again after the war, this time in the employee of SMERSH". Even though it was officially dissolved in 1946, only one year after the war, the term SMERSH is probably used in this instance to refer to any and all state security agencies of the Soviet Union, the latest and most enduring of which was the KGB. It could also be a reference to the fictional organization used by Ian Fleming in his James Bond novels.
  • While many levels take place there in preparation to upcoming missions, this is the only level where it is possible to walk around the briefing room.
  • The CT-180 Utility Launcher is mentioned for the first time, when two UNITY employees discuss its field rating. In the sequel: No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, this device is revealed to be the Utility Launcher.
  • Scene 3 is the longest training level of the game. Future training levels are substantially shorter and do not include the shooting range or other areas apart from the Advanced Field Tactics facility.
The Operative: No One Lives Forever missions
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