Life in 1996 was peachy, pretty much. No marriage, no children, no mortgage. Just me, a PlayStation and enough disposable income to go out for the occasional drink or to buy any new game that took my fancy. Having bought Time Crisis previously, and being a big fan of the amazing G-Con 45 light gun peripheral, any game that would allow me to reuse said gun would obviously be high on the list of potential purchases. Step forward Die Hard Trilogy!
Now, as a fan of the films, and I just want to go on record here and say that Die Hard is a Christmas film, as is Gremlins, and so Die Hard Trilogy was always going to be an easy sell to me. What I didn’t know until I started to research this article is that the original premise for the game was to be just based around the third film, Die Hard with a Vengeance. Probe Entertainment, the developer for the game, were told by the publisher, Fox Interactive, that they wanted something that was closer to the film franchise, and so the idea was born to have a section of the game based around key moments of each film.
The section that represented the first film, Die Hard, was a third person shooter game. Playing as John McClane, you had to run around Nakatomi Plaza, fighting terrorists and saving hostages as you went. To be brutally honest, this was the part of the game I enjoyed least, as it always felt a bit clunky to me. Looking back to videos of this game today makes me wonder how we ever played games like this, but that is a common complaint: I vividly remember Gran Turismo’s replays looking photo realistic, but when I fired up the ol’ PlayStation 2 and tried to play the game again, I was appalled at how muddy the graphics looked and how my memory seems to have betrayed me.
Anyway, I digress. The draw distances were pitiful, the action was lukewarm, and shooting bad guys seemed more like luck than judgement with no ability to aim separate from the way that John was facing: if you wanted to shoot someone you had to move the whole character, rather than the gun. Still, off to a rocky start, surely things could only get better with the other games?
The second game, based on Die Hard 2: Die Harder, was by far my favourite section of the games. An on-rails light gun shooter, much like the seminal Time Crisis, but set in the world of Die Hard. What could be better? I have very fond memories of playing this game when I went home to visit the family at Christmas, playing on an old 14” CRT telly in my bedroom, and the little memories like these hammer home just how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. Plugging the PlayStation in with an RF plug, as SCART was still a way off in my parents house, and playing games on a clonking great CRT display… you kids today, with your HDMI and 4K will never know the struggle!
Anyway, the game follows the movie somewhat closely, letting you go to all the major areas of the film, from the airport, via the tunnels and to the church where the baddies are based, even taking to the sky to shoot down the fleeing generals plane in a scene that didn’t happen in the movie. This is my favourite of the three games, but it is also the shortest, and once you learned the level layout you could blast through the whole game in about an hour. Still, playing with the G-Con 45 was always awesome, and I still have a real soft spot for this game today.
The third game, based around Die Hard with a Vengeance, is an odd duck in many ways. Taking inspiration from the taxi driving antics as McClane and Zeus, memorably played by Samuel L Jackson in the movie, you get to tear around New York looking for bombs that have been planted. The bombs must obviously be defused, and it seems here that the bomb squads of the various towns have missed a trick: what you need to safely disarm a bomb is merely the front bumper of a New York taxi cab. That’s it, ram the bomb, it explodes harmlessly and everyone can live happily ever after.
Apart, that is, from the pedestrians of the Big Apple. See, if you play in the front bumper camera view (and I always do) then if you hit a pedestrian, they kind of explode into chunks, and their blood is wiped off the camera lens by windscreen wipers. This was pretty shocking back in the day, and even led to the game being banned in Germany as it was deemed too violent.
Die Hard Trilogy was pretty well received on launch. To me, I think the selling point was the variety of games offered on one disc: I don’t honestly think any one game was good enough to be released in its own right as a stand alone product, but the combination of the three made it an irresistible package.
So, these are my memories of Die Hard Trilogy, how about you guys out there in readerland? Are any of you old enough to remember this game, and is so, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments.
And if you haven’t played it but have a PS1 kicking around, we’d advise you grab a copy of the game from Amazon and give it a whirl.