Based on the movie, a group of terrorists has taken control of a high rise tower in an attempt to take $600 million. Your job is to rescue your wife who is trapped in the building and stop the terrorists. The game is played with a 3-D point of view allowing you to search the building for useful items and fight terrorists with a variety of weapons or by hand. Cut scenes keep you informed of the plot as it progresses.
Although I am a huge fan of the Die Hard series of movies, I was never a really big fan of playing games based upon the movies; I had always felt it would detract from the original experience and be a big let down. This game gave me the opportunity to revisit Die Hard and get in touch with some nostalgic memories of why I like the series so much in the first place. Granted, this is not the movie played back frame by frame, but there are enough elements woven within the game itself to satisfy my sense of familiarity with the storyline.
The plot of the movie release, it seems, may be varied according to the country of release. I have read some plot elements were changed for the German release of the movie because of issues perceived by the West German government relating to terrorism in the 80's. I don't know if this affected the German release of the game (if there was one). In any case, basic background knowledge is not required to play the game, but it sure is helpful.
The setting is Christmas Eve and New York Police Detective John McLane (played by you) has been invited to attend his estranged wife's company celebration party at Nakatomi Plaza, a lavish, high-rise business complex. In the midst of the gala event, an uninvited group of thugs, posing a threat as terrorists, overtakes the guests at the party and holds them for ransom. At least, that is what the "terrorists" want the authorities to believe. The real motivation behind the hostage takeover is to use it as a cover while the real crime is being committed: breaking into the high security vault within Nakatomi Plaza which holds over $600 million in bearer bonds. Your main objective as John McLane is to rescue your wife who is personally being held captive by the leader of the thugs, one Hans Gruber. How you do this and who gets hurt along the way is up to you, and anyone foolish enough to think they can stop you. You only have two choices: die easy or Die Hard!
What lies ahead is a very short game involving many decisions, twists and turns. You start with two modes of combat (armed and unarmed), a gun with very little ammo and some odds and ends collected from your fallen enemies. You are faced with a hostage situation, a bunch of armed "terrorists" running around, explosives set to blow up the roof, police and other legal authorities trying to contain the scene, and very little knowledge of where you are going or what to do next. If all this wasn't enough, you need to stop the bad guys, warn the police, protect the hostages and rescue your wife before the timer for unlocking the safe runs out and Hans Gruber blows the building up, allowing him to make his escape with the loot.
I really didn't think I would enjoy playing this game. I thought it was going to be a routine action adventure which only allowed me to perform certain actions to reach my ultimate goal. I was pleasantly proven wrong. The game controls are a little tricky at first, but with every new game comes a certain amount of time spent learning the "instinct" of the gaming controls; especially when you had nothing but the game itself to use as a guide! I strongly suggest practicing the controls in a vacant room on the first level before wandering around by the seat of your pants. You are able to wander around and explore freely, fighting your way through any opponents and obstacles, while you figure out your next step. The game provides small rewards for smaller accomplishments and larger rewards for greater accomplishments. The rewards of which I speak are in the form of graphic stills from the movie, which I found to be encouraging enough to keep me moving onward.
The depth of the game controls impressed me and the game content presented a few surprises, even though I thought I knew the story. You are able to aim your weapon, and you have evasive as well as attack manuevers for both armed and unarmed combat, which is good. Your enemies can run out of ammo, you can dodge bullets and even use the environment as cover. All of these things put together would be great, but some of them fall short of that mark. Aiming and firing I found to be difficult and resolved to line up only dead-on straight shots. The 3D enviroment may be considered crude rendering, but it is cruder still while navigating the "bump zone" when encountering objects in any area. The music for the game was absolutely dreadful to me and I made sure it was off for the remainder of the time I spent playing.
It is also also wise to remember that you are playing a role in a movie that has already been scripted. Like any actor, if you don't follow the script, your performance will be poor and not at all well-received. There are multiple endings to the game; not all of them end well for you, but all are interesting to experience nonetheless. The replay value for Die Hard is still there for me because a single game went by rather quickly, the difficutly level was tough but not impossible, and there was enough to keep me busy. I have yet to figure out whether everything encountered could nab me another bonus movie scene graphic. Even though I may seem overcritical of all this, I am still giving Die Hard a 3 rating, because it served it's purpose: it killed some time and provided me with some brief, non-commital fun and excitement! Yippee Kay Yay!!
When I mentioned the game was short, I only meant the timer will count down to a maximum of 20 minutes and 45 seconds before GAME OVER. With that comes some advice. You aren't allowed a lot of time to stand around and organize your inventory, take in your surroundings or idly contemplate the mysteries of the Universe and Life. You need to rescue your wife! Learn to sidestep instead of turning for every move you make, but keep in mind you cannot sidestep through doorways. Pick up all weapons, but don't bother checking them out if they have ammo displayed; the game will sort this out for you automatically when the time comes. Since ammo is limited with no guarantee of a new supply, make every shot count. You are able to rush foward to engage enemies with weapons at a health cost, but you may still be able to engage them in hand-to-hand combat when you're face-to-face. You don't have to be macho and "subdue" everyone you encounter. It is sometimes better to beat the clock than it is to overcome your opponent. Only collect necessary items in your inventory. Pay attention to the text snippets above the items displayed after a search, for some contain clues about the item's purpose.
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