Review by CC DeVille

"Warning: This review is biased"

The Die Hard movie series is one of my favourite of all time. Directed by John McTiernan of Predator fame, Die Hard is a suspenseful, action blockbuster that is in a way similar to Predator in that during both movies, the good guys (Predator) or the terrorists (Die Hard) decrease in number until a final showdown is left between the protagonist and the antagonist.

The second one ain't so good. Directed by Renny Harlin, he failed to create the suspense that McTiernan did in the original. It was more of an all-out action movie and an excuse to get young Bruce back into the role of detective John McClane, while unbelievably coincidentally bringing back actors from the original.

McTiernan came back though to direct the almost-equally-entertaining-as-the-original Die Hard: With a Vengeance. With much of the same action, pace and humour as the first, McTiernan forgets about McClane's wife and his twinky-loving police friend and instead introduces Simon Gruber, the brother of Hans whom McClane killed in Die Hard.

I played this game to death when I first got it, being my first for the PSX and being the Die Hard fan that I was (and am). It was released by FOX Interactive in 1996, and remains as one of the best titles available for the Playstation -- or for any system. Unlike Alien Trilogy which is merely a single game, Die Hard Trilogy (DHT) is made up of three separate games based on the movies.

Die Hard

By far the best of the three games, Die Hard is a third-person behind-view game. Controlling McClane, the idea is to roam the levels of the Nakatomi building from the car park up, killing terrorists and rescuing hostages. Now the game came with an MA rating sticker warning ''Realistic Horror'', and although I wouldn't call the violence horrific, it certainly comes in buckets full. If you're like me, then you'll love the gore and blood that DHT has to offer. Accept it with open arms.

Searching for guns and health, you'll be bombarded with wave after wave of bad guys. Ranging from the ''easily picked off with a hand gun'' fellas to the ''bosses surrounded by minions'', the shotguns, grenades, assorted machine guns and the rest will be put to full use. Backgrounds are semi-destructible with cars being torched in the beginning, glass that's oh so fun to smash in the office levels, and the doors that are annoying to walk through. A grenade'll fix them. No bloodied feet for John this time though, smashing glass is not a hindrance unlike that painful movie scene.

The levels maintain the movie feel and setting extremely well, with familiar backdrops like the fountain and the construction sites. Walls that seem solid are transparent when viewed from behind, which kind of spoils the surprise of enemies lurking nearby, but I guess with the enemy radar in the corner of the screen it doesn't make much difference. The map has saved my life many a time, especially since upon completing a level you have 30 seconds to get to the exit before being blown away.

As I took control of McClane, I noticed that there are a lot of actions he can do. I can side-step, roll left or right, run, walk, shoot, throw a grenade or other secondary weapon and do a cool turn-around move. Here's a familiar situation: I turn a corner and see a terrorist approaching. I turn back, waiting until he closes in on me. My radar says just a few metres away...so I roll to the left. Popping up from where he thinks is nowhere, I blow him away with a shotgun. Just make sure hostages aren't nearby because kill one too many and that's the end for you. Happy trails.

John and the bad guys move smoothly but look blocky and without any real detail. Watching the hostages hold their hands over their heads in fear is always funny. I guess it's the price you pay for such an old game, but at least the blood spurts look great. Unfortunately, the music does get on my nerves a little. Comprising of very few tracks (as few as one), the music is the type of fast, techno crap that make my ears bleed. It does suit the action reasonably well with the fast pace, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't glad I could turn the music volume down to half.

''Ho-ho-ho, I've got a machine gun!'' gloats McClane as he picks up the big, black terrorist clearer. McClane frequently chirps in his one-liners with voice acting done by the man himself and successfully adds some great personality to the game. Gunfire, reloading and cries of German scum round off most of the sound effects, plus some big explosions and smashed glass. It makes for a very noisy game, and the fact that Bruce did McClane's voice really does add something to the game.

Though I have finished Die Hard in one sitting, the game's 19 levels last a long time and even upon completing it you'll be back for more. Some of the later levels are really, really mean as the enemies increase their fire power. Die Hard is without a doubt the most satisfying and mindlessly fun game out of the series. The simplicity of it all.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Set in a first-person mode, this light-gun shooting game alone is better than Time Crisis -- and I've never even played it with the gun. I've never been bothered to buy one but there's a gun called the ''Scorpion'' which you can use for this but I found it playable just by using the controller. Starting off in the airport terminal, John makes his way through scenes from the movie like the church, the plane and even down the chilly slopes riding on a snow mobile. It's pretty much the same deal here as in Die Hard -- collect ammo, shoot terrorists, blow up cars, stay healthy.

The terrorists frequent the screen as it moves in all directions. Just when you think the camera's going to turn right, it switches another way. Shooting random objects on the screen reveals hidden paths, providing rockets and grenades while, unlike Time Crisis, there's no ducking behind objects; you have to be on your toes not to get shot.

Zee Germans are made up of mostly brown clothing and the usual blocks that are idiosyncratic to 1996 Playstation games. The backgrounds re-create the movie even better than Die Hard did; the scenes are extremely accurate and detailed, and are full of life. Going down the escalators, shooting walls causes the wallpaper to crumble. I can make everyone miss their flight by shooting down the arrival/departure board. I can blow up taxis to reveal ammo. I can sacrilege my faith by shattering the stain-glass windows of the church (I try not to though).

Like Die Hard, you start off with your service revolver, eventually earning more powerful weapons and explosives. One of the not-so-good things about Die Hard 2 is that it was truly meant to be played with a gun...meaning it's very hard with the controller. Fortunately, the target is a decent size, and to help you out, if you have trouble killing a terrorist, the game zooms in on him. Just a warning. As usual, killing the hostages is very bad and results in loss of life. Although I think it's fun to watch the naughty people literally vapourise with blood after you shoot them, other weak-stomached wimps may find the violence over the top.

Like the first one, it has a decent amount of levels and I played it through several times without getting bored. The sound effects are pretty much taken from the first and so is the voice acting but with McClane at the helm it makes it all better. The music has definitely changed though; it's now more soft and serene, and reminds me of the Terminator 2 theme. Unlike the movie, Die Hard 2 is the second best in the trilogy.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance

I was 10 when this movie came out at the cinemas and when my mum took me to go see it I didn't fully understand what was going on plot wise. You see, Die Hard: With a Vengeance was my introduction to the series. Heck, I didn't even see Die Hard until a few years ago, and Die Hard 2 about a year after that. Nonetheless, I was still entertained by the funny sandwich board our good friend John had to carry around Harlem.

If you've played Driver then you will be extremely familiar with this third game of Die Hard Trilogy. Taking control of a New York taxi, I had to drive around the over-populated city chasing after bombs set out by angry brother Simon Gruber. Luckily, I got a trusty radar that helped me locate the bombs which I then drove over to ''defuse''. Cruisin' around the city in a cab ain't much fun so in my spare time I looked for a better car. I found a Ferrari. This happens often; instead of sticking with my yellow, body odour-infested piece of clap-trap, I found it better to drive around in search of a better vehicle. The hot dog car's my favourite.

Ugly looking polygons pop up on the horizon as they slowly turn into buildings. Kids playing stickball and black mothers with their children cross the road without looking both ways. I like how the horn actually has a use in this game. I can view the car from inside or behind it, and although behind is the better view, it breaks my heart to see my Mercedes in such bad shape. Sometimes it's nice to get out of the busy streets full of traffic jams and hot dog stands and go for a nice drive in the park. Levels don't have much of a variety between them and they may well be all different but look very similar. Most of the time you'll be driving around huge blocks of buildings, with a few levels in the park to gaze at the grass and the sky.

Controlling a car in a videogame has seldom been more fun. The shoulder buttons activate the awesome hand-brake turn, which makes life so much easier. Cars that are beaten up go slower than shiny new ones, so when I'm in a jam, I call an ambulance -- they'll get you out of trouble in a tight squeeze. Nitro boosts make McClane ask about airbags, and while his voice remains intact, I guess Samuel L. Jackson was too good to record a few voices. He's been replaced with some guy whose voice got on my nerves fast.

The music is probably that of which you'd find in Harlem. Consisting of just a steady beat and a few notes here and there, the rap-without-words makes for some boring listening. John and the Zeus imposter rarely shut up though so the two conversationalists at least make the game noisy. That and the screeching tyres and my car getting smashed. Out of the trilogy, I found this one to be the hardest. Sometimes the traffic jams just go too far. The levels are long, lives are few and Simon has many a bomb. The finale, and in fact the whole game recreates the movie scenes reasonably well, though I wish McClane said what he did to Simon in the movie, when he catches Mr. Gruber unawares at the end.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance is the worst package out of the three, but that's not to say it's bad. Like the others, it recreates the movie well and provides a great challenge and some massive levels.

Presentation

Each game has their own respective FMV clips, but I found the endings to be a real let down. I also think it's strange and even a bit moronic that a game based on a movie series doesn't have a single clip from the movies it's based on. Even stranger, Die Hard Trilogy 2 still did not include any actual clips that I'm aware of. Like a few early Playstation titles, Die Hard Trilogy has passwords you can write down instead using a memory card, but they are really, really, long. How long? Well when I first got this game I didn't have a memory card but instead of writing down the password to save in Die Hard I just finished the game in one go. Finally, worth noting is the option to ask a friend whether you want to quit the game. Choosing this option triggers the game producers to tell you what to get. Yippie Ki Yay.

Simon says for you to end this review

Well, I do not know of a game that is based on a movie or movie series that's more fun than this. Die Hard fans have no excuse not to own this excellent, faithful adaptation of McClane's biography, nor does anyone who isn't a fan. While the graphics have aged considerably in the six years since the game was made, the gameplay hasn't. A hugely enjoyable gore fest with plenty of guns, terrorists and everything else that action fans love to see. This could well be the greatest movie licensed game ever. Does it get any better than this?


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/06/02, Updated 08/14/02


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