The first-person shooter, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, is an attempt to recreate the movie Die Hard starring Bruce Willis. While the game features some funny one-liners from the movie and incorporates additional material, the action and story is stretched a bit too far.
John McClane, a down-on-his-luck NYPD detective, travels to Los Angeles to try and reconcile with his wife. Seconds after arriving at her company's Christmas party in the ultra-modern 40-story Nakatomi Plaza, a group of terrorists take over the skyscraper. Communications are cut off, and the action revolves around a hostages-for-money (untraceable bonds) plot. Using only your wits, a standard-issue police gun, and a few other weapons found along the way, it's up to you in the role of McClane to save the day.
Most of the movie's characters, including your one true friend Sergeant Al Powell, Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, the rich CEO who really needs to learn to cooperate, and the evil terrorist mastermind Hans Gruber are featured. Much of the film's dialogue is used, and is mixed with some nicely done new exchanges by competent voice actors. Unfortunately, the entire game plays out in a series of in-game cut-scenes, without which you'd have no hint of the storyline.
The movie had McClane fighting a dozen terrorists and only focused on a few of the 40 floors. To make the game more of a cat and mouse action thriller, the designers added more enemies and sequences. Each floor has a distinctive look and feel, and many areas not seen in the movie, like sewers, are now accessible. You interact with the SWAT team in a personal fashion, helping them around the building and saving hostages. The added sequence at the helicopter pad on the roof, while good, seems a bit forced and stretches the story. You rarely know what to do next without constantly checking the objectives window since no visual or sound clue informs you of completed objectives, which results in needless running around.
Puzzles are fairly straightforward and include loads of locked doors and gates that must be cleared to advance. Coupled with what seems like thousands of mindless terrorists that come at you continuously, the game truly is nothing more than a flat-out shooter. Unlock the door, get attacked, shoot all the terrorists, unlock another door, and repeat. Without the decent visual effects, boredom would set in quickly.
While interaction with the SWAT team is a good idea, execution in the game is problematical. If you don't pull out your badge fast enough, they'll shoot you on sight. If you shoot one of them, the game ends. When both the terrorists and the SWAT team show up simultaneously, you're left with no option but to duck behind something and hope the SWAT team wipes the bad guys out so you can leave the room. Staying out of the SWAT teams' way is a priority if you decide to add your bullets to the fray.
The addition of morale and stamina meters, in conjunction with the traditional FPS ammo and health meters, makes Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza somewhat unique. You need stamina to run from the terrorists, but all too often you have to stop, resulting in death, though on occasion you can simply walk quickly instead of run. According to the manual, the morale meter effects how terrorists and hostages react to you. Terrorists are supposed to be more hesitant when attacking, and hostages more willing to follow you, but the meter really doesn't seem to be much of a factor.
Even with other weapons available, you'll rely heavily on your Beretta. At some point, you acquire an MP5 from a terrorist, which helps, assuming you can master "short bursts to increase accuracy" according to the manual. Finding ammo for the other weapons hardly makes it worth the effort, when there are tons of clips for the MP5 and Beretta lying around. The terrorists all have great aim, so even if you master the "short burst" technique, firing into a crowd requires gunning everyone down and reloading often.
The enemy-AI ranges from completely inept to Mensa members. For example, it's possible in places to shoot a terrorist at point-blank range, only to see him dive behind objects and take shots at you as you enter the next room. While adding a strange challenge to the game, it's a bit unrealistic at times, but trying to figure out the intelligence level of the enemies adds a bit of fun to an otherwise lackluster game.
Unfortunately, despite the excellent movie to work from, Nakatomi Plaza is a fairly average shooter with a couple of new elements thrown in, one of which doesn't seem to affect gameplay. The game feels as if it's a throwback to shooters made prior to games like Unreal, and while reliving a few scenes from the movie is enjoyable, it's just not enough.
Graphics: The building is nicely fleshed out, with each floor having a unique appearance. Cut-scenes are decent and help advance the story.
Sound: The snippets from the film are a nice touch and the new dialog voice acting is above average. The sounds of the weapons are somewhat bland, and your own weapon sounds like it's far away at times.
Enjoyment: The predictable gameplay isn't particularly enjoyable, though playing a few of the great moments from the film is fun.
Replay Value: No multiplayer feature hurts the game, especially in light of the mix of McClane, the SWAT team, and the many terrorists. There are no secret levels to unlock or other characters to play once you've finished.
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