Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Developer: Bits Studio
Release Date: 11/20/2002
I got to admit that when I heard Vivendi Universal and Fox Interactive would be teaming up to produce a GameCube exclusive titled based on the Die Hard license I was anxious to get my hands on the game. Turns out that this action-oriented FPS doesn’t do justice to either the name to which it is attached or the genre it attempts to purport. How is it, I ask, that a game based on a movie with so many explosions can turn out to be such a snore-fest? The Die Hard trilogy of movies has everything any developer could hope for in terms of creating an entertaining and action-packed videogame, but as is the case with so many movie-to-game titles Die Hard Vendetta misses the mark by a considerable margin.
The premise to Vendetta initially sounds pretty interesting: it takes place in the future and portrays everyone’s favorite badass, John McClane, as an older, more mature character with graying hair. Lucy, John’s daughter, has found her place on the Century City police force. The story starts out with the unveiling of a famous painting that was recovered by the son of Die Hard’s villain, Peit Gruber. As John watches this event unfold it quickly turns into a dire situation where explosions are afoot and lives are at stake, and his daughter is in the middle of it. John quickly makes his way to the scene of the crime and resolves to get down to the bottom of it despite being warned by the on-scene police and the fact that he is retired. You’ll fight your way through 11 different stages as you attempt to put a stop to Gruber’s demented plot, this task will lead John through the entire city, from museums to tuna factories, to film studios, and eventually to the famous Nakatomi Plaza building.
As you make you progress through the game’s large levels you’ll run across various NPCs who will push the story forward via conversations and poorly pre-rendered cut scenes that look as if they are being rendered in real-time but actually aren’t. While the levels are fairly straight-forward they do have a tendency to induce constant running around in circles until realizing the illogical course of action you must take to progress.
In terms of the actual game play dynamics the developers did a respectable job. But in contrast to top-shelf FPS’s Vendetta comes off as a poor replication with little inventiveness or originality. The best word to describe how this game plays is boring. You’ll move around at an annoyingly slow clip, running into an occasional enemy, which you need only haphazardly aim at in his general direction in order to blow away thanks to the overly-compensating auto-aim feature, and then you’ll slowly drudge over to the next room and repeat.
It’s easy to dog on this game simply for the fact that overall it is such a lame attempt to portray the excitement of the Die Hard flicks, but in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due I must say that the developers at least attempted to instill some sense of originality into Die Hard: Vendetta. That attempt at originality comes in the form of what the game calls “hero time”, can you guess what this is? That’s right; it’s a blatant Max Payne/Dead to Rights rip-off, which are blatant Matrix “bullet time” rip-offs. By rescuing hostages John will gradually fill up his hero time meter, when you decide to activate hero time you’ll be granted enhanced reflexes which supposedly allows you to take out enemies easier. In actuality, this ability is incredibly redundant since the auto-aim feature relieves you of any obligation to actually put effort into your shots.
There is an included ability that is pretty cool though, and that is the ability to sneak up on bad guys and grab them, using them as human-shields and forcing surrounding enemies to drop their weapons. If you are using a one-handed weapon or just your fists you can perform this maneuver. Once you have coaxed the baddies to drop their weapons you can go over and pick them up while you have the suspect still under your control, this effectively allows you to place them under arrest and conduct an interrogation. There isn’t a whole lot to this ability but it is a nice diversion from the rampant kill-run-kill motif that Vendetta is so laden with.
Visually, Die Hard: Vendetta fails to strike a feasible balance between on-screen action and adequate frames per second. The frame rate is constantly fluctuating and the various character models aren’t even all that great. The texture quality seems up to par for the most part, though the characters tend to move unnaturally and rarely ever lend themselves to the believability of the situation. Vendetta fares a little better in the audio category with lots of voice-overs, the majority of them being well-cast and believable. And in following with the potty-mouthed John McClane character from the films Vendetta sports myriad expletives throughout the entire game, more than qualifying the M-rating the game has received. The various blasts that emit from the weapons you’ll eventually get your hands on are also done pretty well, ranging in sound from weapon to weapon.
Diehard FPS fans may want to give this game a spin, it definitely proves to be an entertaining diversion if only for a small while. But it is hard to give this game a recommendation when taking into consideration the sloppy play-mechanics, lackluster visuals, and brain-dead level layouts. Not to mention the numerous FPS games currently on the market that make Vendetta look like a five-year-old N64 game. The lack of any sort of multiplayer mode of play doesn’t help matters much either. Overall, Die Hard: Vendetta feels like a poor man’s James Bond.