Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Retro Review - Die Hard Trilogy (Playstation)

Yippie-Ki-Yay (obviously!)

People often claim that something can be so bad that it is actually good. I, personally, have never really agreed with this statement, as I usually find that if something is, indeed, bad, then it usually is best avoided. However, I think I may have found the exception to this in the form of Die Hard Trilogy on the original Playstation - a game that constantly makes me laugh out loud (sorry, LOL .. sigh) due to its terrible graphics, completely gratuitous and ridiculous gore, comic voice acting, or liberties taken with the source material. Yet it's a game that I keep coming back to. 

Made up of three different games (the clue's in the title folks), Die Hard Trilogy attempts to represent each of the first three Die Hard movies by utilising a certain scene from each one. For Die Hard we have a third person action shooter in which John McClane runs around barefoot, gunning down a seemlingly endless supply of terrorists, while Die Hard 2 : Die Harder (groan) takes the form of a on-rails lightgun blaster set in an airport during the Christmas holidays. Die Hard with a Vengeance caps the trilogy with a driving game which tasks you with reaching bombs within a strict time limit - comically defused by ramming in to them, what else?

I guess I will take a look at them in order, and thank my lucky stars this game came out before the abominations that are Die Hard 4 and onwards were released. The first game is the best on offer due to being the one with the most depth - not hard when compared to the other two games. Running around the floors of the Nakatomi Plaza building, shooting multiple enemies, while rescuing (or attempting not to accidentally murder) the hostages is surprisingly satisfying. Each time you clear the floor of hostiles you have 30 seconds in which to get to the exit elevator, otherwise the bomb contained inside goes off and it's game over. With machine guns capable of decimating crowds of terrorists, grenades that turn enemies into mush, some funny quotes from the Bruce Willis sound-alike and some 90's style rave music that pumps away alongside the carnage, Die Hard Trilogy's first game is a definite winner. All this despite having some pretty poor graphics that result in all characters looking as if they were made out of old shoe boxes, and the weird way in which the background walls and ceilings kind of vanish in order for the player to be able to see the action - though, admittedly, it does work pretty well.

Die Harder dishes up a Virtua Cop wannabe that isn't going to cause the excellent Sega lightgun games any lost sleep, but is still heaps of fun. It also has some of the biggest, I assume unintentional, comedic moments, beginning with the ridiculous dark Christmas music that plays alongside the carnage. It is ludicrously over the top, with absolutely everything getting destroyed by your gunfire, rockets and bombs (why would John McClane deem it acceptable to hurl grenades around in an airport full of civilians?). The enemies look comically bad, with faces that resemble low res jpegs of real people attached to poorly animated rectangular bodies. Sometimes there is so much going on you can barely tell what is what, with glass (probably), brickwork (I assume), and blood (I'm pretty certain of this one) flying every which way as you hammer the fire button and watch the mayhem unfold. It's bloody (literally) good fun, and had me smirking the entire time I played it. You can use a lightgun to play this game and I highly recommend you do so as using the D-pad to move the crosshair is a slight chore (though still perfectly acceptable).

Lastly, Die Hard with A Vengeance chucks you in control of a taxi and simply commands you to follow a red compass arrow at the top of the screen in order to drive into a bomb, which disarms it - what else would it do? This is my least favourite of the three games, though it is not without its mildly entertaining moments. The graphics, like the other two games, are extremely poor, with incredible boxy vehicles, wonky lines, and sparse backgrounds that seem to wobble as you drive past. Gameplay is also a pain in the ass as your vehicle moves at a rate of knots, with the directional arrow (and accompanying verbal instructions from your screeching passenger) coming up as you are almost past the turning you need to take. With an exceptionally stingy time limit that often means one wrong turn is fatal, this navigational system is a nightmare, not helped by terrible controls and even worse handling. Nevertheless it still provides some laughs.

Each game on their own would be an epic fail on the part of the developers, but putting all three together somehow creates a monster that is far better than the sum of its parts. I had Die Hard Trilogy when it first came out and enjoyed it immensely, and now, 17 years later, it is still entertaining me, only this time I find it even more amusing thanks to the shonky and incredibly dated visuals. Die Hard Trilogy will keep you entertained and make you laugh (often for the wrong reasons), which is the exact same thing that could be leveled at the first three movies - and just like those cinematic offerings, it is something that you can come back to time and time again. 

Title : Die Hard Trilogy
Developer : Probe
Year : 1996
System : Playstation
Also on : Saturn, PC

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