If you’ve ever found yourself watching an action movie and thought, “Pfffft! I could do that!” then the August 1996 release of Die Hard Trilogy was your chance to prove it. UK-based developer Probe Entertainment, already known for a pair of rock-solid Mortal Kombat adaptations for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, stepped up to the plate with this bio-pic based on the life and times of one witty, foul-mouthed New York cop upon whom the universe decided repeatedly to defecate during the holiday season. And you thought it sucked getting coal in your stocking…
Stepping well off their success with the earlier release of Alien Trilogy, which did much the same thing only in a first-person shooter format, Probe put together three different engines allowing for three completely different gaming experiences, each based on one horrible day in the life of John McClane.
Die Hard is a third-person shooter which tasks the player with killing terrorists and saving hostages in the Nakatomi Plaza high-rise. McClane begins in the underground parking garage and has to work his way up through eighteen more floors of punishing bad guys. In a departure from the film’s premise, after the last terrorist on each floor is killed, a bomb activates. McClane then has to find and defuse the bomb before it destroys the tower. Infrequent boss battles and bonus stages break up the regularly-scheduled glass-walking chaos, and the massive amount of destructible objects, weaponry and pick-ups makes for a solid action experience all around.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder is an on-rails light gun shooter, with McClane strolling through the halls, terminals, runways and basements of Dulles International Airport’s eight different stages on the hunt for Col. West and his gang of anti-American nutcases. As with most games of this type, there are a variety of different weapons McClane can acquire to kill stuff deader, from his standard Beretta pistol to shotguns with explosive buckshot and even a rocket launcher, as well as power-ups to plug the holes caused by the occasional bullet or shrapnel fragment. One of the best features about this chapter is the ability to destroy or affect virtually every surface in the game with your weapons, a detail missing from many light gun games even today.
Die Hard With a Vengeance, the game’s final chapter, puts McClane behind the wheel of a driving/racing game and sends him careening through the streets of Manhattan in a mad rush to find and disarm the bombs planted by the devious Simon. While the movie can’t be considered realistic by any stretch of the imagination, Probe’s interpretation of it is downright off-the-scale, with McClane hauling everything from taxi cabs to sports cars to nitro-boosting, sky-hopping dump trucks through a chaotic mess of cars, trucks, and pedestrians on the lookout for his targets. Get used to wailing on that ‘horn’ button, and strap yourself in, because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. The best part? The game actually rewards you for getting into accidents, offering up points for slamming into pretty much everything on the road except people. It makes about as much sense as Luke Wilson’s acting career, but who cares when you’re having this much fun?
Die Hard Trilogy has no business working as well as it does, but Probe pulled off the impossible, delivering a video game licensed from a film series that completely fails to suck no matter what sort of game it’s trying to be at any given time. Guns, bombs, terrorists, explosions, bullets flying everywhere, taxis four-wheeling it through the subway system, and John McClane dropping one-liners the way most of us drop our car keys after a drunken bender…Die Hard Trilogy has it all. Now check out these excellent ads, then get the hell outta here and go clean up the streets.