sunnuntai 25. maaliskuuta 2012

REVIEW - Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

GENRE(S): Shooter
AVAILABLE ON: Amiga, Atari ST, C64, PC
DEVELOPER(S): Grandslam Entertainment, Tiertex Design Studios (PC)
PUBLISHER(S): Grandslam Entertainment

No matter what you think of his movies, Renny Harlin (born Lauri Harjola) was a pioneer in taking Finland to the international map of popular culture. In 1990, a couple of years after directing a moderately well-received installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Renny took on directing another sequel to an immensely popular film, namely Die Hard. While critics' reception to the film was mixed, Die Hard 2 outdid its predecessor in terms of box office income, and stands as Renny's most financially successful movie to date. The movie certainly hasn't been forgotten, but the game, released on four different home computers in the course of three years, has. There's a reason for that. Or a few.

How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?

While waiting for his wife's plane to land on Dulles International Airport on Christmas Eve, John McClane has a run-in with a group of mercenaries who have taken the entire airport staff hostage and seized control of the electrical equipment that affects all incoming planes.

Make no mistake about it - I like Die Hard 2 very much, but it's way too much of a carbon copy of the original movie. It has John McClane, it's Christmas, even though the plot involves rescuing dozens if not hundreds of people, John's wife is in the core of the events, making it all personal for him... the connections are endless. Hell, even Dick Thornburg's in - one of the most annoying pieces of shit in the history of cinema... and we love him! Just the fact it's so similar to the original film, doesn't make it bad. It's far from bad. It's just so similar that these films are very hard to watch back to back.

Anyway, when I took on this little Die Hard video game marathon, I was quite positive there would only be two games included - Die Hard for the NES, and Die Hard Trilogy for the PlayStation, talk about polar opposites. Three at max, if I had found a version of Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas in time, but I didn't. Then I browsed through my old DOS games, just for the fun of it - I was pretty hung over - and stumbled upon this game by complete accident. I had no immediate recollection of this game's existence, let alone what kind of a game it was. Then I remembered that my friend used to have it on his Commodore 64, along with a lot of licensed games that some sort of a tube kept pushing out back then. I have no memory of how the game's ended up in the innards of my computer's hard drive, but it's there, and it works fine in DOSBox, so I gave it a shot. It was certainly an experience, to put it politely.

Attack of the clones.
First of all, the graphics ain't much to look at. The enemies all look like Rocky Balboa in that grey jumpsuit of his, and... well, the first level is pretty much impossible to beat by honest means, so I guess I can't say anything about the diversity of the level design - or lack thereof. The title song is actually pretty cool, albeit generic - but it's one of the two tunes you'll be hearing. The other one plays in the beginning of levels, the rest of the audio bank comprises of crappy sound effects.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder - named after the stupid subtitle given to the movie in certain countries - is a very straightforward rail shooter. You shoot with the left mouse button, and use superweapons such as missiles or grenades with the right one. The enemies don't have any weak spots, in other words it doesn't matter if you shoot them in the leg or straight between the eyes, as long as you do it a million times. Shooting innocent security personnel - who don't do their jobs very well, by the way - doesn't seem to affect the course of things in any way. You might lose some points, I guess...? What a tragedy.

It's clear from the start that the game isn't very entertaining, but it seems harmless enough... until you reach the end of the first level. These two guys will bust through a door and kill you. You read quite right, they'll kill you. There's nothing you can do about it. You can throw all the missiles you have in stock at 'em. You can shoot 'em a million times. You can pop a vein or two trying to make it to these two guys with full health, it doesn't matter. You can try to gather power-ups - which take a million shots to be registered as collected, as well - it doesn't matter. The game is over.

I guess there really ain't much more to say. What CAN I say? Well, at least this game was very mildly entertaining for a few minutes, that's more than I can say about Die Hard for the NES. If you doubt me, feel free to haul your ass to any well equipped abandonware site and dig this one up to try it for yourself. They'll kill you!

+ Uh... well, it's simple(-minded) entertainment
+ The theme song's surprisingly cool - although probably ripped off some other game 

- You die four minutes into it
- The enemies take a million shots to go down - take this game seriously by the slightest hunch and you'll blow a carpal
- The power-ups are extremely hard to collect

< 3.5 >

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