Can you believe it’s nearly 20 years since Die Hard Trilogy brought a blocky John McClane to our consoles?
The game was first released in North America at the end of August 1996, with European and Japanese launches coming closer to Christmas. While there had been Die Hard games for the DOS, Commodore 64 and the NES years earlier, Die Hard Trilogy was a staggering adaptation of the three movies that took a truly innovative approach: three games in one, baby!
At the time, for those of us playing Die Hard Trilogy on our new PlayStations and Sega Saturns, it was a stunning package. Today, the graphics are charmingly outdated, of course – but the gameplay’s as fun, exciting, and addictive as ever.
Being based on just the first three Die Hard films, the game’s filled with all the series’ best bits. Sure, the fourth flick was decent enough, but the fifth left fans reeling, and the forthcoming sixth outing looks set to put another nail in the franchise’s coffin.
If you want to recapture McClane’s glory days, digging out your copy of Die Hard Trilogy is the perfect complement to watching the first three movies themselves (while making fists with your toes, natch).
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 reasons we still love the mighty Die Hard Trilogy two decades since it first exploded onto the market …
- 1 #1: The Unbeatable Value for Money!
- 2 #2: The Faithful Recreation of the Movies
- 3 #3: The Awesome Soundtrack
- 4 #4: Those Windscreen Wipers + Pedestrians’ Blood = Endless Fun
- 5 #5: The Authentic Dialogue
- 6 #6: The Thrill of Visiting Iconic Locations
- 7 #7: The Explosive Shotgun!
- 8 #8: The Full McClane Experience
- 9 #9: The Addictive Joys of Shooting Every Window You See … Just Because
- 10 #10: The Real Sense of Achievement You Feel for Not Killing Hostages
#1: The Unbeatable Value for Money!
Any of the three games in Die Hard Trilogy is good enough to stand alone. Die Hard With A Vengeance was actually almost released by itself, until Probe were encouraged to explore the other movies too. And it worked beautifully: by compiling all three games into one package, Probe and Fox Interactive created one of the most high-value releases of the era.
Not only was each game long enough to guarantee many hours of fun, they also packed in plenty of challenge. Die Hard With A Vengeance in particular has more than its fair share of teeth-grinding moments – remember having to hit those pesky LAUNCH targets to bring down Simon Gruber’s helicopter? As painful as picking shards of glass from your bare feet.
#2: The Faithful Recreation of the Movies
Die Hard Trilogy has everything a fan could want, even if it did take liberties with the storylines, locations, and weaponry as needed. Seeing McClane in his bare feet and vest is just one of the many awesome visual touches in Die Hard – the character’s instantly recognisable, even with such aged graphics.
Take a look at Die Hard II: Die Harder. This Virtua Cop clone could have been just a basic on-foot shooter, but no! Probe’s team actually incorporated different modes of transport from the movie, recreating McClane’s antics in grand style.
So, we start off by running through Dulles Airport, gunning terrorists (and, sometimes, hostages – whoops!) down by the dozen. Later on, though, we’re ejecting from a plane, parachuting into a snowy church yard before tearing across the landscape on a snowmobile, and then, finally, blasting at the enemies’ plane from the relative safety of a chopper. Sure, we don’t get to go hand-to-hand with Colonel Stewart on the wing of said plane, but who’s complaining?
It’s fast-paced. It’s never dull. It builds on the films’ material and adapts it perfectly for an interactive medium. And it’s got more creativity and excitement in its design than some games released today.
#3: The Awesome Soundtrack
From the second you hit the menu screen, the soundtrack never stops kicking ass. Driving beats and electronic flourishes help to capture the energy of the first two films, booming with cinematic oomph. Die Hard and Die Hard II even feature jingling bells every now and then, tying right into their Christmas settings.
By the time you climb into a yellow cab for Die Hard With A Vengeance, the soundtrack greets you with authentic sounds of 90s New York, with touches of hip-hop. Brilliant.
#4: Those Windscreen Wipers + Pedestrians’ Blood = Endless Fun
As you may remember, Die Hard Trilogy featured an option to reduce the amount of gore in the game.
If you did this, frankly, you were doing it wrong.
Reducing terrorists to blood stains in the first two games is still a delight, but Die Hard With A Vengeance ramps the gore right up. When played in the first-person perspective, running into pedestrians (by accident … honest!) covers your windscreen in blood.
That in itself would be fun, of course, but Probe went one step further.
They added windscreen wipers.
Watching these swish into view to remove the blood of those poor pedestrians is a nice touch of dark humour, which feels firmly in keeping with the tone of the film and the rest of the game itself. While time is of the essence, there’s always a few moments to enjoy this genius feature. Give it a try, for old times’ sake – you know you want to.
#5: The Authentic Dialogue
Where would the Die Hard series be without John McClane’s ability to spin a witty line in the worst moments of his life?
Probe brought the one-liners to Die Hard Trilogy with great effect. Who can forget that moment in Die Hard’s second stage when, upon finding a certain piece of heavy weaponry, McClane says “Ho ho ho, I’ve got a machine gun”?
Other great moments include the loud, shameless belch McClane unleashes whenever you grab a hot dog power-up, and Zeus’s “we’re gonna die!” as you torment him with breakneck speeds around New York’s crowded streets.
#6: The Thrill of Visiting Iconic Locations
Nakatomi Plaza is one of the most iconic locations in cinema history. Probe recreated it beautifully for Die Hard Trilogy, capturing its striking architecture, plush offices, and narrow stairwells with impressive accuracy.
While they had to take some creative license to flesh the game out, Probe managed to make you feel as if you really were sprinting through Nakatomi’s corridors with a machine gun.
Die Hard II featured the snowmobiles, military plane, and church that are so integral to the film, while Die Hard With A Vengeance made New York’s different areas look and sound just as they should. The Chinatown and Central Park levels in particular are brilliantly done, with all the colour and inconvenient traffic you’d expect.
This attention to detail shows Probe were really trying to give fans the best possible Die Hard experience.
#7: The Explosive Shotgun!
Yup – remember the explosive shotgun?
While this absurd weapon never actually appeared in Die Hard or Die Hard II, their respective games gave our virtual John McClane the chance to exploderise bad guys in spectacular fashion, often leaving nothing but a patch of blood where they once stood.
It’s over the top and makes saving hostages harder, but boy, few things in the game make you feel quite as powerful.
#8: The Full McClane Experience
By splitting the games into three different types of play, Probe provided the full John McClane experience.
We’re most familiar with seeing him shooting or punching bad guys, with some driving thrown in there too. However, putting hand-to-hand combat into the games might have added an unnecessary complication to Probe’s workload, and it’s not actually missed. There’s so much weaponry and excitement anyway, would being able to deck villains with a one-two punch have actually added anything?
Probe managed to capture the full experience of each respective film perfectly. For example, McClane spends the first flick on his bare feet, working through one floor of bad guys after another, and that’s what we got. Sure, the number of terrorists jumped from around a dozen to more like 500, but it works.
Die Hard II sees McClane running through an airport and tunnels, riding a snowmobile, hitching a ride in a chopper – and the game does the same. Die Hard With A Vengeance features plenty of vehicular action, and so the game is a frantic driving actioner.
It’s the full Die Hard experience, recreates McClane’s misadventures flawlessly. It’s lightning in a bottle – just look at the 2000 sequel that aped the structure but failed to capture any of the fun.
#9: The Addictive Joys of Shooting Every Window You See … Just Because
The breakable glass is another nice example of Probe’s attention to detail.
Die Hard and Die Hard II allow you to shoot pretty much every window you see. For those of out there prone to destroying in-game environments, one broken pane leads to another, and another, and another, and so on. Before you know it, Nakatomi Plaza’s totally overrun, hostages are dead, and you’re surrounded.
This is a tiny touch, yeah, but it helps to make the in-game world feel more real, and adds to the dramatic power of the action. Rolling aside while a bad guy’s gunfire shatters a window, or watching glass explode as you blast a villain into a bloody pulp, really helps to put you deeper into the experience.
Of course, taking out every piece of glass was a nice distraction if you found yourself in need of a break. Few games appeal to the OCD in all of this like this does: nobody can be expected to walk away from a wall of windows when only the middle pane is broken.
#10: The Real Sense of Achievement You Feel for Not Killing Hostages
Hostages are integral to the Die Hard movies, and so the first two games are filled with them.
In Die Hard, hostages are left tied-up in rooms, held at gunpoint, and are free to wander dangerous areas by themselves once released. Rescuing them isn’t always easy, especially on those rooftop levels – remember trying to shepherd them all to the waiting helicopter while eagle-eyed enemies try to pick them off?
In Die Hard II: Die Harder, hostages are prone to showing up in the most inconvenient spots: there you are, exploring underground tunnels with twin handguns, when a badly-animated innocent runs at you. Anyone with a trigger-happy playing style capped their fair share of hostages, for sure. Hearing their cries of “help me!” and “don’t shoot!” only makes you feel even more guilty if you accidentally blow them away.
Still, rescuing them leads to a real sense of achievement. Watching the post-level breakdown of lives saved and terrorists killed, and hearing hostages’ relieved “thank you” lines, made it all worthwhile. Considering the fairly limited technology Probe had at their disposal, making the hostages look and feel like as human as they do is a great accomplishment.
Getting through the full game with 100 percent hostages saved is a Herculean feat, but really helps to make you feel like you are John McClane.
Okay, that’s it – 10 reasons we still love Die Hard Trilogy 20 years on. Thanks for reading!
What’s your favourite thing about playing Die Hard Trilogy? Let us know!