Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Die Hard Arcade - Arcade, in case you hadn't guessed!

Who has bigger billing here? Fox, or Sega? There's only one way to find out, FIGHT!

Normally, one associates a game based on a film to be utter dross. A steaming pile of Atari E.T. Or worse. I could look back over a lot of Movie to Game adaptations and wonder aloud the immortal phrase "What the hell were they thinking?" while recanting various hashes and screw ups over the years from the Atari 2600 onwards, through the NES and SNES days, 8-bit, 16-bit and beyond. But as with all things involving large statistical data sets, eventually you'll come across outliers and extremes at that. Die Hard Arcade isn't quite one of those extremes but it's quite close to it.

The hardest fight in the game, this guy doesn't wash his hands before trying to punch you.

For those not the know, Die Hard is a film. Go watch it, now. When you're done come back and you'll understand the plot of this game almost flawlessly. For those who've already seen it and those that haven't done as they were told, I'll recap briefly the game anyway. Terrorists invade skyscraper, president's daughter is amongst hostages, you're sent in to infiltrate and rescue. Shit goes down, stuff gets blown up and you're left alone (maybe with a 2nd player, it's possible) to fight your way through the game and engage in a few Quick Time Events. Yes this game predates Shenmue, but so do a lot of others.

Given the time, it's not a bad attempt at recreating the film in limited polygons.

What do we have though with Die Hard Arcade? We've a multitude of levels and arenas in which our protagonists steadily get less and less dressed for the occasion in keeping with the idea of the not having any shoes etc, while punching, kicking, combo-ing and blowing up gangsters, crooks, ninjas, fat people, crooked cops and bent fire-fighters with the occasional big robot (yes I know...) and a few VERY large men here and there before fighting the boss, twice.

Hilarious, the boss can't find the child, it's like some whacky slapstick comedy show!

It plays quickly and the transition between one area and another is done smoothly as you watch the characters physically running down corridors wherein your Quick Time Event will take place, either jumping, punching, or kicking as required in order to incapacitate the enemy, otherwise you're going to have to fight a particularly tougher battle than normal. Almost a real credit eater in fact. Each area has its own features, some will have fans that hurt if you walk into them, a radar dish that moves quickly back and forth, weapons and items to use in combat, a fire engine spraying water like it's cannon time at the local riots and so on and so forth. Giving a mixed feel to each area and keeping things a little more fresh and different as they go.

QTEs, win them and kill an enemy outright, lose them and either get hurt or fight some tough characters.

There's a lot of variation even within the combat for Die Hard Arcade, multiple different combos and attacks to perform including back attacks, charged attacks, jumps, holds and combos, holds and throws, holds and combos INTO throws. *take a breath* pistols, machineguns, Anti Tank rifles (stolen from the terrorists I assume), pepper spray (works on masked people too), poles, sticks, brooms, robot arms, rocket launchers, chairs, boxes, barrels and even some health pickups of different strengths. Speaking of which, with pistols you can arrest enemies and take them straight out of the game if you get to grapple them while holding the pistol, a very nice touch indeed! Though if you run out of ammo, you throw the gun, which can cause damage too and is one truly hilarious way of ending a fight.

I don't remember this being in the film...

The music isn't all that memorable but it does play second fiddle to a wealth of explosions and fisticuffs, voices of enemies begging for mercy before trying to sucker punch/kick you, over the top hammy voice acting during cut scenes (always welcome) and a healthy compilation of gunshots, laser blasts (see robots for explanation) and water impacts during various traps and locales. Though the arcade itself can be customised to lower the noise setting, you likely won't hear the music over the sound effects and fighting anyway.

Paid poorly, the window cleaning robots go on the rampage, with lasers...

Despite the linear approach to the game, there's some replay factor in this in that it's just very entertaining and if you've got two players and get through to win the game, you go back to the Double Dragon method of winning in that victory becomes a fight to the death between Player 1 and Player 2. It's a bright and colourful game with enough tongue-in-cheek humour at the source material to be entertaining enough and steadily paced to bring back players for another go at the game. Not quite a long term play but worth a few run-throughs all the same.