Die Hard Trilogy
Windows - 1996
Description of Die Hard Trilogy Windows
The Die Hard series of films are somewhat obvious candidates for being the basis of a computer game. The combination of violence and terrorists with strange European accidents provides excellent material for an action game. Die Hard Trilogy is a set of three games based on the three films. Bundling three games together in one package initially sounds like a bad idea. Surely you'll end up with three weak games rather than one strong one? However, Die Hard Triology works remarkably well. Each game in turn shall be considered below.
First, a quick technical note
Installing Die Hard Trilogy is a breeze thanks to the combined might of Windows 95 and DirectX. When you start the game you are presented with a menu from which to chose which of the three films to play. However, before you get into the action it's worth taking a moment to set up the graphics options. The screen modes supported basically depend on the amount of memory on your graphics card, but my 2MB card allowed anywhere up to 800x600. There are also sliders to select how far into the horizon the graphics engine draws, how accurate the perspective is and how much detail the game uses.
When faced with these options I foolishly decided to try out 800x600 with full detail. I proceeded into the game and my P133 was brought tumbling to its knees. If you want to play Die Hard Trilogy you're going to need quite a fair whack of PC power. I wouldn't even begin to dream about running this game on anything less than a P100 and a P133 is really a bare minimum for beginning to get decent graphical performance.
Having miserably failed to run the game in it's top detail mode I went back to the set-up menu. Just as I was about to reduce the detail on everything, I noticed that there was a further menu of 'advanced' options. 'Bingo', I thought as a second screem popped up with options to turn on 3D Graphics Card and MMX support. I was quite impressed to see support for the funky new MMX chips but then quite disappointed to remember that my Pentium didn't support it. However, there was the good old ATI 3D Expression Card to fall back on.
Having selected Direct 3D support, I was ready to go. I was devastated to find that my ATI Graphics card refused to work properly with the game. It's not clear whether this is a fault with Die Hard Trilogy or my graphics card. However, the game supports Direct 3D and therefore presumably will work with the majority of 3D accelerators. Basically if you've got a P200 MMX with a flash graphics card, you're in for a treat. I had to settle for a strange 400x300 graphics mode but it was still quite good and I even managed to push it up to 640x400 without the game becoming unplayable. The whole point of this quite lengthy section is that you need a decent PC to play Die Hard Trilogy but if you've got the latest technology then you'll find it's well supported.
The first of the three games is based on the original Die Hard film. It's a third person shoot em up, much like Fade to Black and a little bit like Tomb Raider. The basic 'story' is that you have to work your way up all the floors of the building which the terrorists have taken over, rescuing hostages and defusing the odd bomb on the way. It's not a bad idea for a game and it captures the essence of the original film rather well.
Each level consists of a floor of the building. As you blow away the last terrorist on each floor, a bomb is activated which you have to find before you can progress to the next level. The controls are fairly fiddly as they involve quite a few keys, some of which are in quite strange positions. At first it appears that you need three hands. As well as the usual movement keys, you can roll to either side, side step, jump, fire your gun, change what grenades you are using, and throw grenades. On a Playstation control pad, this was probably quite intuitive. On a PC keyboard, it degenerates into a bit of a mess. Thankfully you can redefine the keys and after a while the controls can be mastered.
You begin armed with only a lowly pistol but a wide range of weapons can be picked up from around the game area. The terrorists come in various shapes and sizes, but most are quite easily outwitted and dispatched. However, there are an awful lot of them and it is relatively easy to get into trouble. What really makes this part of the game is the locations. The full 3D levels are all very well detailed. You begin in a parking lot, progress through the reception and office areas, before finally ending up on the roof of the building. The environment is generally very interactive, for example the cars in the parking lot can be blown up and the glass and wall panels in the interior sections can be shot out.
The graphics in this part of the game are detailed but the 3D engine does not seem overly impressive. The game only draws the area very close to you, presumably for speed reasons. The level of detail used on the objects is impressive but the actual characters look a little bit weak. The best thing about this part of the game is that the graphics can be put in a higher resolution as speed is not as essential as it is to the other parts of the game.
The music is played directly off the CD in all three games and is of an excellent quality throughout. It's well recorded and suits the action theme of the game. The sound effects in this section are reasonably good. The guns and explosions sound a bit weedy, but then that's a bit of a common problem with most computer games. There is quite a wide use of speech for all the characters, usually trying to pick up on lines in the films. The baddies shout abuse at you, the hostages call for help, and your character talks with a voice that nearly belongs to Bruce Willis but is not quite authentic enough. Overall, the sound effects are varied but never really excel.
Die Hard takes a lot longer to get into than the other parts of the game. It's no Tomb Raider but it is pleasant enough to play. The action gets a bit repetitive after a while, but the 3D environments are detailed enough to keep your interest. It's not fantastic but then it's not bad either.
Die Hard 2 - Die Harder
The second game, Die Harder, is a Virtua Cop clone. Your only control is over the sights of your gun as the computer guides you around a 3D environment. It's the good old shoot-the-enemies-before-they-shoot-you gameplay associated with all light gun games. Everything about this section of the game resembles Viruta Cop. Of course, this is not a bad thing as Virtua Cop is excellent.
The action begins outside the airport and moves inside terminal buildings, onto the runways and even into underground tunnels. The 3D areas are excellently designed and are quite interactive. Windows shatter, panels fly off walls, and crates explode as you spray gun fire about. As well as looking good, the levels are also well designed. The terrorists come flying at you from a variety of directions and civilians mill about in front of you. A rather neat touch is that rather than losing a life for hitting the innocent bystanders, you get a bonus section with some powerups if you manage to miss them. This change of emphasis from punishment to reward makes the game much less frustrating than others of its ilk.
The graphics for this section of the game are very good. In a hi-res mode, the game looks suspiciously like the arcade version of Virtua Cop. The terrorists are well animated and look more realistic than their counterparts in the first game. The only possible problem with the graphics is that scaled sprites are occasionally used to represent trees etc. This can look very blocky, especially on outside stages such as the mountain-side. Sound is of a similar quality to Die Hard with a reasonable selection of samples and speech.
This section of the game is quite addictive and proves to be great fun for a while. However, it is a bit uncomfortable having to use the mouse to control your firing. These sorts of games only really perform to their best when then player is using a lightgun. If the game came bundled with a lightgun then this part would have been excellent. As it stands, the action is still very entertaining but a bit unwieldy at times. A problem with this style of game is that it often provides only a very short-lived gaming experience. However, the levels are all very long and there's quite a challenge here for most players. All in all, it's a very capable attempt at a Virtua Cop -style game.
Die Hard With A Vengeance
The third part of the Die Hard Trilogy is an innovative racing game. You have to defuse a number of bombs by racing to them before they blow up. However, there is no set course to take and you are given complete freedom to navigate your way around the city streets and parks that you find yourself in. An onscreen radar tells you the approximate direction to be travelling in but it's entirely up to you to decided which route will prove to be the best.
You start off travelling around the city streets in a taxi. However, you can progress to tunnel and park sections as well as finding a wide variety of alternative means of transport. All the cars in the game have their own handling characteristics and the control system has exactly the right feel to it. As well as regular steering, you can also employ hand brake turns to negotiate the sharp corners of the city.
This part of the game is initially very addictive. It's the most original part of the whole package and is my favourite of the three games. However, it does get a bit repetitive after a while. To be fair, the programmers have included some nice touches, such as bombs in moving vehicles, but the action still remains fairly similar throughout.
The graphics in this section of the game are very good, but weaker PCs clearly slow down and make the car's handling quite sluggish. There are some nice touches, such as the skid marks left by your car, and the cities are all packed with cars and pedestrians. The sound is also very well implemented, with convincing rumblings of engines and sampled speech to help you find the best route.
Die Hard With A Vengeance is a very gripping racing game. It does not have that much lasting appeal but it can prove to be compelling for short periods. It also makes a nice change from the shooting action of the earlier parts of the game.
Die Hard Trilogy gives you three very different games for your money. All of them are quite compelling but aren't really of a high enough quality to maintain your interest for too long. However, because there are three games, you can move between them to keep your interest level up. The package works surprisingly well. However, none of the games would really stand up all that well on their own, so you really have to decide what it is you are looking for. If you want one excellent version of one of these styles of games then you would be advised to look elsewhere. However, if you want a wide range of action then this package may suit you. I certainly enjoyed it and it is one of the better movie licences of recent times.
Review By GamesDomain
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