Die Hard Vendetta

Review

posted 12/28/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: GC
When Vivendi/Sierra announced that they had procured the rights to develop video games based on the Die Hard license we were pretty anxious to see what they had up their sleeves. Sierra was after all, one of our favorite developers of all time and they’ve flexed their First Person Shooter muscles on the PC realm with No One Lives Forever and it’s equally impressive sequel. However, when they unleashed Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza upon us earlier this year, we were more than underwhelmed with the results. Could Sierra redeem themselves with this GameCube exclusive or will this be another bad movie to game adaptation?

Instead of basing it loosely on any of the three Die Hard movies the designers decided to create an entirely unique story, set many years after the end of the trilogy. A much older, but not necessarily more mature, John Mclane is still the focus of the story. His daughter is all grown up and has decided to join the police force, thus thrusting herself into the line of danger. At the beginning of the game you’ll infiltrate an art museum and rid it of the terrorist presence and of course, rescue your daughter. Through the course of the game you’ll see some of LA’s most famous sights including Century City Plaza, Nakatomi Plaza with the final showdown culminating in a setting that resembles the Griffith Observatory.

Initially I was was impressed with the title, the dual-gunned, foul-mouthed, trigger-happy action catered to my tastes. There were also some interesting concepts in place, including the ability to arrest perpetrators and a feature that vaguely resembles Max Payne's bullet time, called Hero Time. Together the game looked like it had the right elements for success but that was only in practice, in execution everything just came tumbling down.

Vendetta can best be described as a good paper FPS as in it looks good on paper but not in action. It contains within it some pretty innovative ideas and concepts but fails to pull any of them off with anything but below-par results.Vivendi added a new dynamic to the FPS genre by allowing you to sneak up on perpetrators and subdue them, thus taking them into custody. This is a great concept that never does quite come into fruition based solely on it's hit or miss execution. Sometimes you can sneak up on enemies who are looking directly at you, sometimes an unsuspecting enemy will magically sense you sneak up behind them and turn around to confont you. It would be a nice feature if it worked but it seems to be dependant on audio cues as opposed to actual skill or talent. Wait for a specific line of dialogue to play then you're free to nab your victim.

What really made Max Payne such an innovative title was the inclusion of Bullet Time, a feature that slowed time down around you without hindering your already lighting quick reflexes. This Matrix-esque feature made the game what it was, otherwise it was just another basic 3rd person shooter. It seems like Vivendi was going for the same results here but instead, it's a cheap knock-off that's more of a gimmick than anything else. It doesn't really give you much of an advantage and instead, just makes the game seem like it's going in slo-mo. The operatic music that plays in the background when you execute Hero Time is pretty sweet though.

In another binge of unoriginality, the game borrows some of those sweeping cinematic effects from Max Payne that tell you when you've cleared out a room full of baddies. Sometimes you'll see a camera rotate around a foe as he bites the dust, other times you'll see the bullet's trajectory en route to the baddie's skull. While it's a pretty neat effect it only allowed me more time to see just how deficient and obsolete the game's visuals are.
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