So there might be a small amount of fanservice involved in me reviewing this game knowing that it’s essentially one of my brother’s favourite PS1 games. I don’t even know if he’s reading this but if you are, alright, bruv? Bet you never thought I’d be doing this game, did you? Well you might be slightly surprised by this but given the nature of the games that I’ve reviewed on here (particularly the cute and charming ones), I actually used to like this rather a lot too. My brother got WAY more enjoyment out of it because he adored the film trilogy it’s based off. The last two films not so much because anyone who watching a film series being mauled to death is clearly a masochist. Or just plain wrong.
Or an idiot.
Some bright spark obviously saw fit to create a game that best encapsulated what Die Hard was: a balls-out, bloody riot of guns, cussing and ridiculous accents. Although Die Hard 2 didn’t quite have the same level of quippery or balls to the walls excitement-slash-story, it did at the very least have a fair amount of humour and fucking brilliant climax. And then they threw in wise-cracking Samuel L Jackson for the third film who just seemed to bounce of John McClane’s character so well with his ‘I don’t even know what I’m fucking well doing here’ levels of ‘I’ve had it up to here with your shit’-ery. It was a brilliant end to a cracking trilogy.
And perhaps that’s all it should have been. There wasn’t really a reason to bring it back for the fourth film and there was DEFINITELY no reason to bring it back for the fifth one. Which we don’t talk about. Ever.
Suffice to say that the Die Hard trilogy of films (that being Die Hard 1, 2 and With A Vengeance) seem to be a perfect basis for gaming. I mean… let’s think about what they actually do with this game that fits so goddamned perfectly.
This game is THREE in one. There are three entirely different games built with the same graphics engine and let’s be brutally honest here, you’d expect it to be a jack of all trades, master of none. It ought to be. How often do you get three games in one that are all top quality experiences? I’ll answer that one for you, people: you don’t. And even here… you don’t QUITE get it but let’s be fair to it, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. And the third game isn’t exactly awful either. 2.5 out of 3 then maybe?
The game’s only major problem? It hasn’t exactly aged well… There are some aspects of the collection that really show off its age and the corners that the developers cut to make it the experience it was at the time. We’re talking heads cut out of newspaper and stuck onto cloth dolls levels of corner-cutting. It’s a hilariously clunky/chunky-looking game now but that doesn’t, thankfully, detract too much from the fun that can be had pretending to be John McClane in a building, an airport and a taxi yelling Yippee-Ki-Yay motherfucker!”
Even though they never actually use the whole line in the game.
Or Bruce Willis’s voice.
Anyway, let’s get a move on and explain what each element entails. First up, we’re visiting the Nakatomi Plaza for a third person action platform shooter type game. You’re a slightly ropey-looking, stocky man in a very grubby vest roaming around the bottom floor, aiming to get all of the way to the top floor to do away with Hans Gruber, hereby forever known as the first acting role of the late, great Alan Rickman. The game basically sets you up to shoot the terrorists and rescue the hostages. And yes, this is on every level. Which can get immensely repetitive. However, the maze-like areas do add a lot of variety and the introduction of do-or-die hostage situations add something extra to the proceedings.
I mean, you ARE John McClane. You want to save everyone. Not saving a hostage is a BAD THING. On the little map you have to help you, they’re the blue dots. You have to find them and send them on their way to the exit. The terrorists don’t ALWAYS shoot at them in the early stages (seeing as they’re basically trained to kill only you) but you might find that if you let a hostage go, you might have to shield them for a bit to make ABSOLUTELY SURE they don’t die.
Because dying is bad, FYI.
The red dots are the bad guys and they’re a bit slow to react at first so there is always plenty of time to get yourself out of the way of bullets, etc. Handguns don’t do much damage – just like real life LOL – but machine guns and shotguns pretty much decimate everyone. Including you.
Also: “HO HO HO! I GOT A MACHINE GUN” is easily one of the most satisfying lines to ever grace the speakers. It might be Bruce Willis saying it but it’s a damn near-perfect interpretation.
Killing all of those terrorists bastards isn’t the end of it though as you can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by forgetting to find the bomb that gets triggered in the elevator after you kill the last enemy. Forget to do it and you’re done for. Basically. Yup. So well done John for saving all of those hostages but er… yeah. You done fucked up on that whole bomb stopping thing you were ALSO MEANT TO DO.
Not that he was meant to be there in the film, of course, and he doesn’t actually STRICTLY have to do any of this at all. Give the guy a break. He just wanted to see his wife. Instead he gets this:
Let the bodies hit the floor… etc. LOOK AT HOW UP TO DATE I AM, PEOPLE. REFERENCES.
Essentially, what you have is a body count higher than most of the Die Hard films, a lot of weapons to master, a bit of stealth thrown in for good measure and enough to keep you interested without getting into ‘I’m so done with this’ territory. Of the three games, this one is probably the easiest to get into and the most fun.
So Die Hard 2 is a whole other kettle of fish. This is old-school lightgun action in the style of Virtua Cop and Time Crisis.
And about as much fun.
Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of either.
Die Hard 2’s style of gameplay involves shooting the terrorists from the comfort of your sofa using a pair of crosshairs, controlled either by the d-pad or a light gun. As they tumble about the screen, you can pick up health, weapons and destroy the scenery is you want to. Shooting at a wall leaves it with holes all over it, which was the first time I as a gamer had come across that. Shoot EVERYTHING if you want to but sometimes leaving the walls unscathed leads to secret areas with a plethora of weaponry hiding away. But by the same token, shooting things can also leads to hidden weapons as well… so… er… yeah. Hey. Shoot whatever you want.
NOT THE HOSTAGES. You monsters. You make me sick. You make John McClane sick.
The game runs on the rails, so there’s very little in the way of deviation, aside from the secret areas, which send you straight back on track anyway. It’s like a pit-stop for shooting games. A… shit-stop?
Oh God, I did NOT just say that.
Weapons are reloaded with a tap of one of the shoulder buttons but you can’t reload a weapon you don’t have enough ammo for, putting you right back with the handgun as standard. You can be shot five times, replenish health with soda and find shotgun hidden in the walls. IT’S JUST LIKE REAL LIFE.
Have you… not found a shotgun in the wall before?
Also: check out Donald Trump here. Paper face cut onto cloth dolls! I accidentally shot him. I never said this game was easy. The d-pad crosshairs aren’t easy to use. The screen moves about so much that you might have an enemy in your sights one second and the next, it’ll be laser-sighting on a random rock. Or Trumpy here.
And therein lies the game’s fundamental problem: it’s better with a light gun so doing this game with anything other than that is actually quite frustrating. It’s not meant for anything BUT a gun peripheral and sadly, it really isn’t that exciting without it. The crosshairs are responsive enough without but for the true experience, lightgun it. It’s what John McClane would want.
However, it’s the most dull of the three by far. It is the most repetitive because, as with most on-rails games, you don’t get any freedom. You basically shoot the same guys in the same way each time and there’s no real strategy to it at all. As such: not as much fun.
And then we have the sub-Grand-Theft-Auto driving stylings of Die Hard with a Vengeance: a bomb-hunting driving game where John McClane and his taxi-driving companion Zeus Carver drive around New York hunting for… bombs. Surprisingly. Yeah. All you have to do is drive, find and RUN INTO THE BOMBS because apparently that doesn’t cause them to blow up the city. Unlike NOT driving into a bomb which blows up the WHOLE cityscape.
I mean… LITERALLY. The explosion surrounds you and engulfs you as it blows up.
This game ain’t fucking around, I tell you.
And then you have to keep doing it until you find them all. Occasionally, you get the chance to chase after other cars and knock seven shades of shit outta them before they set off a bomb but you are doing the same thing here over and over. However, a timer takes away the potential repetition, making you concentrate harder and try harder on each go. Honestly, replaying this game made me realise how bloody game it is to find the SECOND BOMB. I eventually did but after far too many attempts.
Controversy rained upon this game with this part as you could run down pedestrians willy nilly and they’d leave a bloody splatter mark across your windscreen IF you were playing in the ‘inside-car’ mode. Plough through a rather large line of people and your view will be momentarily blocked by a stain of bloody splatters being wiped off by your windscreen wipers.
Jack Thompson would have a fucking field day. He probably did. Just not playing the game.
Now this is the one of the three that’s taken the longest time to get BACK into. The level of difficulty is remarkably unforgiving and I completely forgot that the shoulder buttons turn the car 90 degrees in either direction so THAT didn’t help matters. Either way, it’s bloody good fun for what it is and given that it shouldn’t be ANYWHERE near as fun as it is – particularly since it’s the same thing over and over for about a billion levels – but there’s enough challenge to keep you coming back. It’s a close second to Die Hard in terms of fun but that’s not exactly detrimental to it.
So 2.5 out of 3 is a 83.33% success rate. That’s not bad all in all. This isn’t your typical game – given that it’s three – and it’s definitely not MY typical kind of game at all. I mean, I fucking well like MySims. To have a positive opinion about a game that is the POLAR OPPOSITE that game in almost every single way is insane.
And what genius came up with this idea? Shoot a villain for your high score name? Although why is there a man on fire?
And a skeleton?
Actually scratch that… why are there not MORE skeletons or men on fire?
AND WHY DOESN’T EVERY GAME DO THIS?