Die Hard Vendetta
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.
In the PC realm, First Person Shooters are often used as showcases for today's most advanced technologies so from that standpoint, Vendetta is up against some pretty stacked odds. Sadly it lands in the battle not with a bang but with the proverbial thud. The engine used in the game is archaic, especially when pitted against today's top-notch engines. After playing through the first level I was instantly reminded of Monolith's Blood II, a first person shooter that featured some impressive effects but dated looking architechture and structures. While it may look nice at first I wasn't fooled by the game's underlying interior. I was greeted by blocky, underdeveloped player models, unrefined environments and some rather bland texture work. Environmental interaction is kept to the bare minimum, allowing you to make your mark in assorted Ming Vases and windows, but that's about it. Strictly late 90s fare here. It's a shame too, because games like Metroid Prime have shown what can done from the first person perspective on the GameCube.
Controlling the game is another test of patience as the inept GameCube controller really shows its deficiencies. The right C-stick just simply isn't precise enough when you need it to be and the sensitivity on the left analog stick seems to vary from sequence to sequence. In order to compensate for these shortcomings the designers included an optional auto aim feature and while it's nice for newbies, it really takes the fun out of the game. Having this feature on basically turns the action into one of those eye tests that you have to do at the optometrist. As soon as you see the enemy (dot) click the trigger and proceed. Then again, the game is nearly impossible to play without the auto aim, feel free to pick your poison.
The controls aren't the only area that diminish this sub-par title, it's the general hit and miss of the mission structures. For instance, in an early level you'll be told to respond to a bank robbery. As you reach the front doors a group of thugs will run out, raining fire upon you. You do the logical thing and return fire and what greets you? A game over message that tells you to follow orders. This scene becomes repeated numerous times in the game as you'll be given a very vague mission goal only to fail for no apparent reason. Some missions are generally fun but they become hampered by the rather inane boundaries that are placed on you for no reason. Why did you just fail the mission? You'll never know!
When the game's mission structure isn't bringing you down the cheesy AI is. Enemies seem to always know where you are and when you're coming, giving them a distict advantage over you. To make matters worse, it seems like the majority of the levels feature crevices and non-crucial highways just for the sole purpose of hiding baddies. You'll generally be able to predict where the designers decided to hide an enemy just by looking for the most inane and un-natural facet of the level. Why is there a short alleyway that leads to nowhere? Why to had the bad guys of course! Just like in real life!
With the current influx of first person shooters on the market there is absolutely no reason to add Die Hard: Vendetta to your library. When it comes to Die Hard games this one is strictly on-par with the likes of the others and if you've ever played the others, you'll understand just how deficient this game is. It's got a few great ideas and some nice voice acting from Karl Winslow but that's about it. Don't come here looking for the second coming Die Hard Trilogy because it just ain't gonna happen, this is your standard bargain bin fare.
Dual pistols, impressive features and plenty of action donâ€™t make up for the shoddy gameplay. It does have Karl Winslow in it though so thatâ€™s always a bonus.
Rating: 6.2 Flawed
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile