Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza Review
Even with its cheap $30 price tag, only the most die-hard Die Hard fans should pick up this game.
As you can probably guess, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza is a first-person shooter based on the classic Bruce Willis action flick, Die Hard. The game attempts to re-create many of the movie's environments, characters, and one-liners throughout 30 or so single-player levels, and while it succeeds at capturing some of the bare essence of Die Hard in its action scenes, a number of problems with the controls, the graphics, and the enemy AI keep it from being anything more than a mediocre game.
In Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, you play as John McClane, a down-on-his-luck NYPD detective who travels to Los Angeles in an attempt to reconcile with his estranged wife at her company's Christmas party, which is being held in a massive and ultramodern 40-story skyscraper: Nakatomi Plaza. Soon after McClane's arrival, a group of terrorists takes over the building, severs its communications lines with the outside world, and plots to kill all the hostages in an attempt to make out with millions of dollars from the company's central vault. With his wife in danger, McClane takes it upon himself to single-handedly stop the terrorists using little more than his standard-issue Beretta and a Zippo lighter. All of the movie's memorable characters, including Sgt. Al Powell, Argyle, Harry Ellis, Holly Gennero, and Hans Gruber make an appearance in the game, and its plot unfolds through a series of in-game cutscenes that use many of the same camera angles as those in the movie.
The game will take you between 10 and 15 hours to finish, significantly longer than the movie's running time of two hours and 11 minutes. To flesh out the game's plot, the designers have added some sequences and missions that obviously weren't part of the movie. While this might seem like a good idea on paper, in practice, the new challenges facing John McClane don't seem to fit in with the whole Die Hard experience. Some of these new missions involve McClane crawling around in sewers, escorting members of a SWAT team around the building, and rescuing hostages from an inferno. What's more, the addition of these new levels causes the plot of the game to fall apart. For instance, when McClane first radios Sgt. Powell, he tells him that the building was taken over by about a dozen terrorists and that he's already "taken care of " a couple of them. While this stays true to the movie's plot, by the time you call Powell in the game, you've already killed about 20 of the terrorists. In fact, by the time you finish Nakatomi Plaza, you'll have run into nearly 100 enemies--and that's about 10 times the number of terrorists in the movie. Additionally, you're never given any sense of what you're supposed to be doing in each level. The cutscenes mirror only certain movie scenes and don't give you any direction at all. The only way to figure out what you're supposed to be doing is by bringing up an objectives window, and you're never informed of when this window is updated with completed or new objectives.
Nakatomi Plaza uses typical first-person shooter controls, though it deviates from the standard conventions of the genre a bit. Specifically, you move a lot slower in this game than you do in most shooters. There is an always-run option, but using it drains your stamina, which you'll need to do simple things, like jumping. Your stamina slowly regenerates, and it's denoted by a "lung meter" in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, where two other meters--health and morale--are also located. Supposedly, McClane's morale affects the way that hostages and enemies react to you, though there seems to be no notable differences in their behavior within the game. In fact, for the most part, almost all the enemies you'll run into will display a substandard level of intelligence. They'll usually stand perfectly still--sometimes at point-blank range--while you shoot them, and vice versa. Occasionally, you'll catch a terrorist shooting from around a corner or ducking behind a solid object, but those instances seem to happen infrequently.