Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Die Hard

Pack-in Video / Activision

Being that I'm a huge (and perhaps the only) Pack-in Video fan, and being that I'm a man and thus love the Die Hard movies, I was pumped up for this chip. Oh, sure, I'd seen the low ratings and read the convicting commentary regarding the lack of connections between the game and the film. But over the years, I've seen enough Pack-in titles get slammed for ridiculous reasons by "analysts" who barely play the games to know better than to let such meaningless numbers and blather bring my hopes down. At the same time, I've always insisted that my near-maniacal allegiance to Pack-in wouldn't bar me from maintaining some sense of "objectivity" and calling a spade a spade if need be.

No need--Die Hard is no dud. It's an overhead-view "free roaming" shooter, reminiscent in style of Last Alert. It doesn't have LA's varied mission objectives, as your goals are simply to locate exits and slay a few bosses. But it plays pretty well and serves up plenty of soldiers to kill (especially from Stage 5 onwards). It also implements time limits for each stage, adding a sense of urgency to the proceedings. And the solid action is backed by an appropriately virile soundtrack.

You rarely have to look far to find someone to shoot at.

Some areas, like Stage 2's marshlands, are visually appealing thanks to wise color choices.

Some enemies like to hide out in empty rooms, fearful of your might (or perhaps cleverly plotting an ambush). Charge in and blast them up; you'll usually receive something nice, be it a new weapon, a health restorer, or a protective blue muscle-shirt.

The gameplay is simple, but enemy soldiers aren't your only concern. Avoid laser beams and the always-frightening shattered glass. And watch out for pits; there are plenty of spots where you can plummet to your death.

Some attempts to change things up didn't go very well. Mazelike Stage 3 might've been more enjoyable to explore if the graphics weren't so blah, while obscured visibility isn't the greatest level-design concept Pack-in ever came up with.

The game doesn't enjoy much success with its intermediary imagery. Batman showed us what can be done with cinemas on HuCard. Die Hard is no Batman cinematically.

The map screen, on the other hand, is BEAUTIFUL.

Excluding the final tower-top showdown, there are only two boss battles, but each of these guys can put up a decent fight.

This is a good spot to occupy when dealing with the chopper at the end. Diagonal shooting will allow you to nail the 'copter and shoot down its missiles, while most of its bullets will simply miss you (and you can often avoid the on-target ones just by leaping in place). Don't waste ammo when the boss is out of your range, though, and watch for the weaponry and health restorers that it tosses out.

The battle will probably take a while. Eventually, the 'copter will drop a flame thrower, enabling you to bust it up for good.

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