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My friends and I were watching Die Hard and as I was watching, I was thinking of what game I could play for a Christmas review and then it hit me. Die Hard Trilogy. Developed by Probe Entertainment, Die Hard Trilogy was released for the PlayStation in August, 1996 and Saturn and PC in December of that same year. For this review, I played the PlayStation version. Die Hard Trilogy is a collection of three games based on the first three films and each one features a different gameplay style.
Die Hard Trilogy features three separate games; Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and Die Hard With A Vengeance. Each one’s premise is based on their respective films but they’re not one-to-one re-creations and the voice acting is pretty awful but humorous. You’ll play as John McClane in all three and I believe he’s accompanied by Zeus in Vengeance but you don’t actually see the characters. McClane and other characters will speak and shout during gameplay and you’ll hear some of the classic lines from the films.
I guess I would consider Trilogy to be an arcade style collection. You will earn points in each game and can set high scores. When you fire up the collection, you can pick which game you want to play and all three are single player only which is kind of a shame. Die Hard is a third-person shooter, Die Hard 2 is a light-gun style rail shooter, and Vengeance is like a driving game. From what I researched, the Saturn version of Die Hard 2 does support the Stuner light gun but the PlayStation version does not support the popular light guns released for the system. However, I’ve read it does work with certain branded ones and a mouse. Most of the information I found on the PlayStation version leads me to believe it doesn’t support light guns at all but I can’t really confirm since so we don’t have any to try. Regardless, I got used to aiming with the d-pad and I would say the standard controller works pretty well. I think a light gun would have been better but I was surprised at how the controller worked.
Die Hard is set in the Nakatomi building and your goal is to eliminate all of the terrorists in each level. You can run around, sidestep, roll, and jump. John is equipped with a handgun with infinite ammo but can acquire other weapons with limited ammo. You can also throw grenades. You will come across hostages you can rescue and pickups like food, health, and body armor. Once you free a hostage they will try to escape but can be shot by terrorists. You’re not required to save all the hostages but if you’re going for a high score, you earn extra points for rescuing them. Shooting hostages will subtract points from your score and some of the hostages in the later levels can turn out to be terrorists. Once all of the terrorists in a level are eliminated, a bomb is triggered and you must find it in time to I guess defuse it and escape to the next level. If you lose all your health, you lose a life. Lose all your lives and its game over.
There’s almost twenty levels in Die Hard and that does not include the bonus levels. It is a challenging game and if you practice you’ll get better. It took me several attempts to make any significant progress. In the beginning I would usually lose my last life in level four or five. The draw distance sucks so you can only see a few feet in front of you and then it’s just darkness. However, you can shoot into the darkness and kill enemies which I found to be one of the best and safest strategies in the game and, luckily, the enemy AI isn’t very bright. For example, I would often run near them and they didn’t notice me and if they do spot you, you can just run to cover or to a different room and they won’t chase you. John is always outnumbered, although there’s significantly more terrorists in the game than there are in the film. The minimap on your HUD will show you the locations of enemies and hostages. The HUD will also indicate when enemies are aiming at John. You need to be careful and sidestepping and rolling can be a big help. I found that always moving is the best way to avoid taking damage during a firefight.
Die Hard is a tough game because you’re always outnumbered and because enemies can drain your health pretty quickly. The baddies with machine guns in particular can be a real bitch. There is no crosshair or reticle so you have to line John up correctly so you can hit what you’re shooting at. For the most part, it’s not a problem but what is a problem is not being able to reload manually. You can be firing at a bad guy and then John stops to reload and gets shot during that time which is really annoying. What’s also annoying is when you get off an elevator at the beginning of a level and are immediately shot by nearby terrorists.
One of the things I think is impressive about Die Hard is the open-ended levels. Each one is wide open, letting you go anywhere you want. Most levels include different rooms, hallways, and areas to explore. You can break glass and knock down wooden boards and if you take the time to look around, you’ll come across pickups. A good amount of terrorists will populate each level and more will often arrive from elevators. They just walk around and will shoot at you if you’re in sight. You’ll sometimes come across terrorists that are about to execute hostages and if you save them, you’ll earn extra lives. You can also earn extra lives by killing some bosses that appear in certain levels. The levels or environments are based on the different areas in the film so there’s office levels, construction areas, maintenance levels, etc.
Die Hard 2 is a rail shooter so John or the camera moves automatically and all you need to do is aim and shoot. John is equipped with a pistol with infinite ammo but you can acquire other weapons throughout the levels. You start with a limited amount of grenades and rockets which are great for clearing out mobs and you can acquire more. You have a specific amount of health in the form of badges. If you get hit, you lose a badge and once they’re all gone, it’s game over. You can shoot pickups like health, shields which provide temporary protection, tracers, and reloads which instantly reload your weapon.
Enemies will come from everywhere and you’ll need quick reaction times and good aim to take them down before they can shoot you. All enemies will go down fairly easily but Head Honchos will appear every so often and can take a few shots before dying so I’m guessing these are like bosses. Sometimes enemies appear in groups and that’s usually a good time to toss a grenade or fire a rocket. You’ll earn points for killing terrorists and saving people.
The game will take you to various locations seen in the film. You’ll even get to take part in the snowmobile chase. You can destroy objects and various parts of the environments and it’s good idea to do so because many breakable objects reveal pickups. If you meet certain requirements, you can unlock secret routes. You’ll come across innocent people everywhere you go and shooting them substracts from your score. My only major complaint with this game is that some of the weapons you use are not ideal if you’re trying to avoid shooting innocent people. For example, the explosive shotgun. If you’re just trying to beat the game and don’t care about your score, then you can shoot everything in sight and don’t have to worry.
Die Hard With a Vengeance is easily my least favorite game in the trilogy. It’s based on the driving sequences from the film and goes crazy with it. The objective of every level is to defuse or blow each bomb before the time runs out. If time runs out, the bomb explodes, destroying the city, and you lose a life. Lose all of your lives and it’s game over. You have a specific amount of time to get to each one and there’s often obstacles in your way like other vehicles. Each level puts you in a specific vehicle but you can find others and each one handles differently. You can accelerate, brake, turn, and activate a turbo boost. The turning sucks which is one of the biggest problems. It’s very easy to understeer and oversteer and my vehicles would often get stuck on different parts of the environment. I also witnessed my vehicles clip through other vehicles quite often.
The levels are set in different parts of New York City. You’ll also have to race dump trucks to bombs in the subway and Aquaduct. These are like bonus levels and is where you’re guaranteed to find extra lives. Throughout the levels are various what I’ll call pickups you can drive into like turbo, nitro, extra points, and more time. The EMS pickup will summon an EMS vehicle you can follow. It rams through traffic vehicles, clearing the roads for you. Then there’s the launch pickup which launches you into the air, usually to get you over certain obstacles.
There is an arrow on your HUD that points to where the next bomb is. They can be stationary or bomb vehicles. You have to chase and ram into bomb vehicles enough times to stop them. Points are subtracted from your score if you run down pedestrians which is very easy to do since they’re everywhere. You can honk your horn to get them to move but after a while, I stopped caring. Like the Die Hard game, Vengeance features open-ended levels which, in my opinion, is the most impressive thing about it. But because of the time limits, you don’t have much time to explore. Regardless, you can basically drive anywhere you want.
Despite the arrow on your HUD pointing to the bomb, it doesn’t tell you the best route to take. The game gets harder as you progress mainly because there are more obstacles you have to deal with. For example, large vehicles and vehicle pileups blocking different roads. You can sometimes launch over them or ram through them but I found that there’s usually a specific route the game wants you to take. And some of the later levels clearly use pickups to guide you down specific routes. Zeus is in the car with John and he will often tell him when to turn and I found that it’s wise to listen to him because whenever I missed a turn he suggested, I usually failed to get to the bomb in time.
There are some aspects of the presentation that are impressive but not everything aged gracefully. The entire presentation is pixelated, character models are blocky, and the draw distance sucks as mentioned earlier. On the plus side, the environments are detailed, the gore effects look cool, and there’s some neat visual effects. Muzzle flashes and explosions look pretty good, characters can be set on fire and will run around in flames, blood splatters when characters get shot, and when you shoot a wall in Die Hard 2, it leaves behind decals. Most of the environments in the games, especially those in Die Hard and Die Hard 2, do in some way resemble their on-screen counterparts. These are not exact recreations but if you’ve seen the films, some areas and rooms should look familiar. Vengeance will have you driving all over New York City and what’s most impressive about most levels is their open-ended nature despite the fact you’re not given the time to actually explore. Police and traffic vehicles populate the roads and pedestrians will populate the alleyways and Central Park. If you do take the time to look around in Vengeance, you’ll notice a lot going on. Each game is accompanied by music. I wasn’t a fan of every song but there’s a great moody tune that plays during Die Hard 2, which helps establish atmosphere, and a jamming tune that plays in some of the later levels in Vengeance. Weapons fire sounds pretty good and John and the enemies will grunt, groan, and spout lines during gameplay. In Vengeance, you’ll hear tires screech and pedestrians scream if you run them down. Vengeance is the buggiest game in the trilogy. As mentioned earlier, my vehicles would often get stuck in parts of the environments and I encountered a lot of clipping. I didn’t encounter many issues in the other two games and the frame rate across all three is inconsistent. It dips when things get busy but it’s not bad enough to make any of the games unplayable.
In the end, I enjoyed my time with Die Hard Trilogy despite some of its issues. It could have used some more polish but its fun. And to be clear, this is a collection of three different gameplay styles based on the first three Die Hard films. These are not the movies in video game form. Basically, you don’t need to see the films to enjoy this. Although, I would recommend it because, well, Die Hard. These games assume you’ve seen the films so there’s not much story and the voice acting is terrible but humorous. As far as I’m concerned, these are just arcade style games with a focus on setting high scores. However, unlike actual arcade games, they don’t feel impossible or like quarter munchers if you will. But they are tough and you’ll need to practice to get better. There is a decent amount of content on offer in this trilogy. Die Hard 2 is probably the shortest game out of the three and if you were to beat Die Hard and Vengeance, you’re looking at an hour or longer for each. And that’s if you beat them in one sitting. I spent hours in each game because I kept dying and trying again so I think most players will invest plenty of time just practicing before they beat it for the first time. Or maybe I just suck. Your objective in each game is simple and once you get a hang of things, the gameplay can be a lot of fun, even addictive. Vengeance is my least favorite game in the Trilogy but it has its moments and I think the other two games capture the spirits of their respective films a little better.
I would recommend Die Hard Trilogy to fans of the film series and action games. The three different gameplay styles ensure that it appeals to a wide audience. So I think it has something for everyone. If you like action games, rail shooters, or any kind of driving games, Die Hard Trilogy has you covered. And you should be able to enjoy it whether you’ve seen the films or not. It might be a little rough around the edges but the good outweighs the bad and in my opinion it’s one of the best Die Hard games out there. Definitely check it out.