Die Hard Trilogy: Welcome to the party pal!
We are now in December and if you love it or hate it, Christmas is almost here. To some that means: family, gifts, a religious holiday or time for overeating to the point of throwing up; but to me it means it’s time to break out Die Hard and watch John McClane wreak havoc upon the plans of Hans Gruber before dropping him off a hundred story window (sorry, spoilers!). Among the tripe of many movie-based videogames there are the shining few that brings hope to one of the most hated gaming categories and Die Hard Trilogy is among them. Let’s break out some turkey and put on our Christmas hats and play some Die Hard!
Die Hard Trilogy is based around the first 3 movies of Hard saga where you can choose between Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard With A Vengeance. If you are a stranger to these movies (what planet are you from?), Die Hard is the story of a cop who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I could go into detail by explaining what happens but go on and watch the movies if you haven’t already.
I think I will have to split gameplay into three sections, one for each movie tie-in game.
Die Hard (third-person shooter): I don’t have too much of a problem with the controls in this game apart from two things, tank controls and pre-analogue era. In a 3D game with 3D backgrounds in an open arena-style gameplay, these controls can be a bit of a pain, especially on some Playstation D-Pads, they don’t call it “Playstation thumb” for nothing.
You pick up different machine guns (Ho! Ho! Ho!), grenades and smoke grenades to help you take out Hans Gruber and his buddies while trying to save and protect the hostages on each floor of the Nakatomi Plaza.
In each level you must dispatch the amount of Terrorists prompted on your HUD before needing to get to the elevator where a bomb is waiting to be defused within 30 seconds or you will die and have to restart the level. The elevator will then take you to the next floor if you reach it in time. There is also a bonus stage that takes place upon the Plaza roof where you must take out as many terrorists as possible, and save as many hostages as you can for those extra points, and weapons to help you on the next level. After getting used to the controls, the game can be very enjoyable but damn tough; use your rolling buttons to avoid as many bullets as possible and keep note of where the elevators are as you will need to run to get to the one you need for the next level, tough but fun.
Die Harder (On-Rails Shooter): When it came to the PSone, I LOVED light gun games. I had an MP5 light gun and a scorpion beretta with kick-back. Die Harder was always best played with these, (damn these new flat screens and lack of light gun compatibility!). I recently had to play this with just the controller with the blue cursor on screen – nowhere near as fun, plus you can’t get the pick-ups as quickly as needed due to the slow cursor. Pretty frustrating as you need to be very quick at the same time.
To enjoy Die Harder at its full, get an old CRT TV with a light gun (the light guns are cheap on e-bay, from £10 upwards) it’s well worth it, especially for the other games on the PSone library you can use these for like Point Blank, Time Crisis and Lethal Enforcers. Die Harder is fun, but probably the easiest of the 3 games.
With A Vengeance (Driving): Don’t worry I’m not going to go on about needing a steering wheel for this game, you can if you like but it’s not essential as the game plays well on normal D-Pad controls. On a controller you use the L and R triggers to do fast turns on each street and you need these, as time is of the essence in this game with very little-to-no breathing room as you race to get to locations throughout each level and take out bombs by driving into them (yeah I know the logic is out the window on this one).
You will have help in the form of pick-ups like Time, extra life, an APB ambulance escort and Turbo boosts (oh you need these and don’t worry you can do them more than once per level, this isn’t Knight Rider!)
You start each level with a taxi cab, but there are hidden cars through the levels which are faster like a Sports car, Police car or dump truck. There’s also a Bonus Stage where you are in a police car racing against a dump truck in the aqueduct scene in the movie; if you don’t get to the end first, you lose a life but you may be lucky and pick up an extra life on the way and finish first. Great fun, but probably the toughest game of the lot.
Graphics are very dated. It has that early Playstation over-pixelated/polygon look. I would love to see a HD version of this game today, but I’m sure there’s licensing issues in the way of that. Doesn’t look great unfortunately, but for the time they seemed fantastic as we were blown away with the jump from the 16-bit era to the 32/64-bit 3D era as it was a huge leap in graphics for the time.
The music in this game is awesome and very diverse. Each game has its own style of music, not something you can really listen to away from the game but each of the soundtracks give you a mood for each level. I must point out how much I love the first level music in Die Harder – it feels very eerie and calming with an enjoyable beat; very difficult to describe but worth a listen.
Final Notes: I think the game, for the most part, still can be fun. I don’t know how a newcomer would feel about the gameplay and controls, but as someone who loved this game since playing a demo of it to the full game back in the day up to now, I would play this again and again. I just wish there was a more updated version today with better controls and graphics, but its wishful thinking.
Graphics: 8/10 – the score is based upon the PSone standards, not for todays as it would be much much lower with how dated they look.
Sound: 9/10 – The CD quality the playstation had to offer let players hear sounds like they haven’t before between voice clips, sound effects and music and this game had them all in spades.
Gameplay: 7/10 – I think that the tank controls were a bad choice but I guess 3D gaming was still very experimental in some areas at the time.
Fun/Lastability: 8/10 – As I said I will keep playing but others may not, once you get used to the controls again I’m sure you are in for some fun.
Overall score: 8/10 – Dated in some areas but still an enjoyable gem
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Players: single-player
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1
Producers: Darren Anderson, Mike Arkin and Tony Porter
Music: Neil Palmer and Stephen Root
Sound Effects: Stuart McDonald
Det. John McClane: Eric Allen Baker
Voice: Lani Minella
Retro game fan, comic book reader, board game lover and film fanatic. I have loved videogames since I was 5 years old after visiting my first arcade, I have grown up with gaming since having my Atari 2600 then Commodore 64. I ended up building my own career crafting pixelised characters and have had the pleasure of meeting many of my retro gaming heroes who developed some of my absolute favourite games.