Yippie-Ki-Yay: The History of Die Hard Video Games

Die Hard Vendetta Screenshot - 1137852

If there's one thing that's for certain, you can't stop John McClane.  For five films now, Bruce Willis' supercop has been running himself ragged, battling terrorists and surviving all sorts of ridiculous escapes, whether it's riding on the tail end of an F-14 or jumping off an exploding snowmobile.  With his latest movie, A Good Day To Die Hard, out now, we thought we'd pay tribute to McClane in another area – video games.

And there were a few out there that took advantage of the Die Hard license.  Some were better than others, but it never hurts to look back and see what each one did for the franchise…

Without further ado, yippie-ki-yay, mother…

Die Hard Vendetta (GameCube)

Vendetta

Released back in 2002, this first-person shooter attempted to utilize elements not found in the medium at the time, including various situations with different outcomes, hostage rescues, and puzzle solving.  For the most part, it wasn't too bad on mechanics, though the game did have an "unfinished" feel to it, similar to the Bad Boys game that was released around the same time (but without the laughably bad dialogue).  One of the highlights: Reginald VelJohnson reprising his role as Sgt. Al Powell.  Sadly, he hasn't been seen in the movies since…

Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza (PC)

Another first-person shooter released by Sierra in the early 2000's, this game focused more on McClane's original adventure, as he battled terrorists throughout Nakatomi Plaza.  This one was a little truer in tone to the nature of the hero, armed with a Zippo lighter for darker areas, as well as five different types of firearms he picks up amongst dead terrorists.  Unfortunately, it was about the same in lowered quality, even with the modified Build engine in place.  But there's always VelJohnson, who once again voiced Al Powell for this game.

Die Hard Trilogy (PlayStation)

Trilogy

It was a novel idea, and, for the most part, it worked.  Die Hard Trilogy copied events from the first three films, but made them unique from one another, offering three different gameplay styles.  The first, Die Hard, was a third-person shooter taking place in the Nakatomi Plaza, complete with over-the-top diving stunts and a whole lot of bloodshed.  The second game, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, is a first-person shooter on rails, where you take on terrorists throughout Dulles Airport.  Finally, Die Hard With a Vengeance bears a resemblance to Crazy Taxi, with an open-world driving game where you try and keep bombs from detonating.  The game wasn't too shabby at all…which is more than we could say for the sequel.

Die Hard Trilogy 2 followed its own original storyline, one that put McClane right in the middle of Sin City in a third-person shooter, first-person on-rails game and open-range driving game.  Unfortunately, it was made by a different developer, N-Space, who couldn't quite grasp the concept.  As a result, the game lacked the same level of quality as the first, and undersold because of it.  That might explain why we didn't get a Die Hard Trilogy 3.

Die Hard (NES)

The game that got the ball rolling for the franchise in the video game world, Die Hard is a top-down adventure game where you carry a limited amount of bullets and do battle with terrorists in the Nakatomi Plaza.  Despite staying true to the theme of the movie, this game didn't do justice for the franchise, with its average design and bland gameplay.  Even the ability to listen in to baddies with your two-way radio didn't help this game innovate at all.

Die Hard Arcade (Arcade/Saturn)

Arcade

Finally, we have, what I believe, is the best Die Hard game yet, a two-player beat-em-up where John McClane and his female partner take on goons picking up a multitude of weaponry, from rocket launchers to wrenches, battling an evil megalomaniac who's kidnapped a little girl.  Never mind that robots show up midway through the game, and that John can miraculously survive being struck by an elevator.  This game is pure, goofy fun, and the Saturn version was an arcade perfect port, complete with a fun little mini-game called Deep Scan.  (A port, under the game's original name, Dynamite Deka, was released digitally for the PlayStation Network, if you feel like checking it out.)

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Robert Workman
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