Sunday, November 10, 2013

VGR Die Hard Vendetta

How can the same thing keep happening to the same guy so many times?!?

VGR: Die Hard: Vendetta 
From Bits Studios/NDA Productions/Sierra Entertainment/VU Games
Played on GameCube
Also available on Xbox & PS2

Type FPS
Year 2002

Developed by long Bits Studios, long time studio behind several video game adaptation including the infamous Wolverine: Adamantium Rage back on the 16-bit era or also the Max Payne clone, Constantine.

Along the way their project got more ambitious. They ported the maps over Half-Life's engine before simply pitching their project at Sierra/Fox Interactive directly.

The early 2000s marked a long time since we last saw a Die Hard film, but that didn't stop 20th Century Fox from keeping the brand alive. Two separate videogame releases hit retail stores in 2002, with absolutely no link between those two.

While PC got Nakatomi Plaza in 2002, consoles received Die Hard: Vendetta instead.

Die Hard: Vendetta was originally developed by Sierra Entertainment exclusively for the Nintendo GameCube. But in 2003 it was finally ported over to the PS2 and Xbox as well.

The story while simple enough is sort of this game's main selling point.

You see this is one of the rare few couple of Die Hard games based on an original storyline.

Vendetta takes place about 5 years after the events seen in Die Hard with a Vengeance.

John McClane got a bit better since the end of that film but he is still living in a crappy place by himself back in Los Angeles this time, not fully back on the force.

His daughter Lucy McClane is now part of the LAPD force. 

Richard Thornburg is on TV announcing the great opening of a gallery thanks to its benefactor Piet Gruber, who happens to be the son of Hans Gruber (and nephew of Simon from the third film). That's right. The Grubers are back!

Of course, it all turns for the worst, Lucy gets trapped in the gallery with several mercenaries and it's now up to the old man to save his baby daughter.

On the premises John finds Sergeant Al Powell, once more voiced by the inimitable Reginald VelJohnson back as well.

The game will take our hero from a museum to Hollywood Boulevard where a gang war just break out. Then a Cinema Theater, the Subway, the LAPD Station of the Century City, Hollywood Studios, a Prison Break, a Factory, a Warehouse to finally return for a visit at the Nakatomi Plaza itself to save Lucy and finally an Observatory!

It's like a giant "official" fanfic!

The game plays like what you'd expect from a first person shooter game.

You grab weapons you can circle through an HUD menu, point and shoot. Since this is a console-shooter, it also has a lock-on system by default (which you can turn off in the options - but I wouldn't suggest to do so since it was designed to use that feature).

This game main's gameplay gimmicks are the dual weapon-wielding system. When you grab a weapon for the second time instead of a clip of ammo you will then be able to carry twice the same gun on both your hands. It's very useful since you can gun down the hordes of enemies the game will often throw at you.

Then there's the "hero mode" bullet time à la Max Payne. When defeating enemies it will replenish a "hero bar" in the HUD. Once full you can activate this bullet time to the theme of Ode to Joy. Really. I kinda honestly forgot all about it during my entire playthrough...until the very last boss! I gotta say it was very useful to win these boss fights, then again they are not much of a threat to begin with.

Finally there's a big emphasis on being a "cop".

Thinking and acting like a cop.

This goes from defusing hostage situations (identifying thugs who give orders/carrying gun) to getting enemies to surrender. You can enter a stealth mode, grab someone from behind (go for higher ranking individuals in a group of enemies) and have the other foes give their weapon.

Finally you can also interact with non-playable character, talk around. They try to have you "inhabit" this role of John McClane by having some interaction at the beginning of stages.

Nothing spectacularly original or game changing. But it was a nice effort.

And to complete this look at the game, there's also a tutorial training course you can select before jumping into any level, an optinonal introduction. ("John back on the force"!)

But I suggest only having a glimpse there or simple skipping it.

It was the last level developed for the game and by separate people from the main game (!!) and it shows! It mentions some stealth mechanics (avoiding detection/evading) and gameplay elements that were not even explored in the main game since the tech was not implemented at the time.

The story can be a more interesting and the characters better animated than in DHNP. But the gameplay feels so stiff and approximative.

There are some very frustrating segments (the sniper sequence comes to mind). The ridiculous use of bullet time is so cheesy (including those you get on last kills).

It's a decent FPS, mind you. The real problem lies in the lazy imprecise controls.

The checkpoints/save system is all over.. There's no in-game save, just after getting a score at a level's completion. You need to go though those in one sitting, and some later ones get really annoying. Sometimes there are checkpoints, after cutscenes usually, which break stages down to 2 parts. But those will only last you as long as you don't quit the game.

Die Hard Vendetta is a very simplistic looking game. The graphics are kinda one generation behind, albeit slightly more polished. The awful hilarious cutscenes are better than what Nakatomi Plaza offered for sure, but those don't affect the game itself.

The game itself lacks the interactivity from PC FPS games at the time, although they tried I'm sure.

In a way, this really feels like they wanted to offer this generation's Goldeneye with this game. What with the Nintendo exclusivity, an emphasis on what makes a console FPS good (lock-on targeting system, focus on storyline, several arcade-like stages, etc.), only minus a multiplayer mode.

Yet it sort of failed.

It's such a dumb game.

Piet Gruber won't be making an impression as far as Die Hard villains go, neither will his henchmen sidekicks. The former Hollywood actor/stuntman-turned merc Jack Frontier, the bomb expert Nitric or finally Marlive the female mercenary. Yet it all doesn't sound that far from recent Die Hard movie outings. (the female ninja-esque femme fatal? Check! forgettable henchmen? Check! not-quite-terrorist/not-quite-robbers group of villains? Check! John McClane's getting too old for this shit? Double-Check!)

The whole Nakatomi Plaza was kind of a nice idea. A late minute addition no doubt. To allow console gamers a chance to revisit the building. The whole stage just felt like a super simplified retelling of an unpolished DHNP for consoles.

There's even a Butcher Bay-like stage. They really tried to cram in as much ideas as they could...

Overall, it's a pretty forgettable, pretty silly "bad game".

I'm sure long time Die Hard fans will get a kick out of this.... but aboiv it.

I was not a huge fan of Die Hard Nakatomi Plaza, yet I have no problem admitting it was the better game. Vendetta just feels rushed, unpolished and kinda ugly to be honest. 

Both in terms of gameplay and graphics.

It's only redeeming quality? John McClane's voice actor, the same from the past game, who is still trying to make his best impersonation of Bruce Willis, but having almost fun with it this time. 
I give it:
1 / 3 Quacks!

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