Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Die Hard Trilogy Review

Die_Hard_Trilogy_CoverartPlatform: Playstation, Saturn, Arcade
Released: 1996
Developer: Probe
Publisher: Fox Interactive
Digital Release? No
Price: $3.92 (PS1)/$15.99 (Saturn) – Disc Only, $5.49 (PS1)/$24.99 (Saturn) – Complete, $14.95 (PS1)/$62.97 (Saturn) – Sealed according to Price Charting

Die Hard Trilogy was released in the early days of the Sony PlayStation and was generally well received. We were all excited for this because 3D was becoming big as developers looked to leave the 2D style of game in favour of the blocky 3D models.  Also this is Die Hard, one of the coolest film franchises ever, so why wouldn’t people want to play this? Well time has passed and the dust has now settled. Is this game really as good as we remember, or has it gone the way of the film franchise?

dh_1So lets start of with Die Hard. In this game you take on terrorists in the Nakatome Building, each level has you explore a floor of the building and kill absolutely every terrorist in sight whilst also saving the odd hostage. Once all the terrorists have been taken care of you must run to one of the many lifts (elevators) to diffuse a bomb. If you fail you have to restart the entire process again. While this game is entertaining to begin with, it becomes a bit of a bore very quick. Its literally an Easter egg hunt find the red enemy on your radar and shoot it, wash rinse repeat. There are multiple weapons and grenade types to use but I found myself having to play this game incredibly cautiously. You’re limited to a set number of lives and once all of those are expended it’s game over and right back to the start of the game. This was a common design for older games, especially in consoles prior to the Sony Playstation, but it would have been a lot more fun if you
didn’t have to worry about a life handicap. You can of course cheat and use invincibility but then you pretty much ruin any point to playing the game. You can save the game per level but if you don’t have all 3 of your lives from the get go I really wouldn’t bother as you’ll find yourself reloading the memory cart quite often.

dh_2Die Hard does have some neat design features you can shoot environment panels which can fall on enemies and kill them just remember you’re also fragile to these obstacles to. Its also kinda cool that you can see through the walls in this game. Since the camera is panned from what seems like a a 45 degree angle, not directly about your character not directly behind. It really helps with your little Easter egg hunt that when you get near a wall you will be able to see through it and observe if the room contains a hostage, enemy or maybe a useful crate of goodies. There are only 18 levels but they are a massive drag. The same level designs are repeated constantly and the game even forces you to play a tedious bonus mission which has you escort hostages to the helicopter.

dh2_2Up next is Die Harder. This is the strongest game of the collection. This time you are shooting terrorists at the air port in a Virtua Cop inspired on-rails shooter. This game is a lot more enjoyable with a light gun but I should warn you it’s only compatible with third party versions and not the awesome G-con (or GunCon) from Namco which was released after this game. You can play the game with the d-pad with a  little target on a screen but just like with all on rails experiences this is far more fun with the gun. Similar to Virtua Cop, enemies are highlighted with a blue ring but if you have a real sharp eye you can take them out before they pose a threat. You can collect several weapons as well as use grenades and rockets to take out those baddies quick. Being an on rails experience this campaign is quite short and doesn’t outstay its welcome like the other games. It’s also but far the easiest, you can take up to 5 shots before its game over however, lives and powerups are literally littered all over the environment.

dhwv_1Finally we have Die Hard with a Vengeance. This game is a race and chase driving game. Essentially you have to drive to a specific destination or ram a vehicle off the road before the time runs out. I have to give credit to the developers matching the third Die Hard game to a driving style game was quite inspired since the film it’s based on doesn’t contain a lot of car chase scenes. Unfortunately it’s similar to Die Hard one. The concept is great at first but it quickly becomes very boring. Vengeance is also very tough, the cars you drive are not particularly smooth and handle poorly and you need practically pitch perfect precision to get to the goal on time. Many things will get in your way from doing that usually other cars and just the general frustration of the controls. Just like Die Hard this game also runs out of ideas too quickly and literally repeats the same levels over and over again until it decides you’ve had enough. I’m all for making a
game have some length to it but this sort of repetition adds nothing to the experience and its very unlikely you will see this game to its underwhelming climax.

All three games have this ugly graphical style that reminds me of Goldeneye where real peoples heads are mapped onto bodies. Apparently these are the faces of some of the development team from Probe. This is of course a very early 3D game so character models are very blocky and just look hilarious. The voice acting in this game is hilariously awful. John McClaine played in the film by Bruce Willis constantly spurts out one liners from each of the films. It’s actually quite funny and probably one of my most enjoyable moments of the game. The most embarrassing voice acting comes from the character who plays Samuel L Jackson in Die Hard with a Vengeance. He sounds like some generic buddy cop partner, nothing like the character from the film. It comes across as not only embarrassing but kind of offensive to. The soundtrack to the game has a few cool techno tunes, especially in Die Hard, and the same music is repeated periodically with the repeating levels but doesn’t wear out its welcome.


I really could not help thinking this is a game that I remember being a lot more fun than it ultimately ended up being. What happened was I experienced this game at a very young age in the launch of the Sony Playstation and thought it was downright amazing because you had the 3D graphics and it had multiple game styles and types. So of course this would look amazing to anyone for five minutes. Then you play beyond that and realize this game just doesn’t match those expectations. Die Harder was the most enjoyable entry, provided you are playing it with a compatible light gun, which can be hard to come by these days.  Ultimately the Die Hard Trilogy is a great game to show off the initial power of the Sony Playstation, but of course over the years with more games being released being bigger, better and more refined in each department, Die Hard Trilogy now just comes across as a game that is better left in the past than something you need to revisit. That or it would make a pretty cool drinking game: take 2 fingers every time you hear a a cheesy one liner from the not Bruce Willis voice actor.

Final Score: 2 out of 5  (review policy)

Written by jamalais

April 2, 2015 at 11:00 am

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