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    Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza
    Author: Tony McDowell   Publisher: Sierra   Developer: Pirahna Games
    Date Posted: June 25th, 2002
    SLRating: SLRating: 7.5/10
    Bottom Line: Great license, great engine, involving story. Nakatomi Plaza is an okay game, but there is nothing here that really sets it apart from the pack. Pick it up if you're a fan, otherwise keep waiting on Doom3.

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    Introduction

    Some licenses, it seems, will never go away. The original Die Hard movie debuted over a decade ago, yet it seems that people still can't get enough of John McCLane and his vigilante heroics. Sure, Die Hard Trilogy and Die Hard Arcade were solid titles, but there seems to be only so many ways of telling the same story over and over, right? Nakatomi Plaza takes the route of placing you squarely in the shoes of Mr. McCLane himself and setting you off to save the world in full LithTech 3D splendor.

    I, for one, was not too familiar with the Die Hard plotline. I had roughly watched bits and pieces of the first movie, and have never even glanced at a frame of the remaining films. Thus, I was eager to play Nakatomi Plaza in order to finally partake of this cultural icon. When I saw on the box that they had even commissioned Reginald vel Johnson (Turner and Hooch, Family Matters), I was even more excited. This was sure to be a hit I thought.

    Experience

    Installation was easy, though I am beginning to become more and more disturbed by developer's thoughts on what constitutes a "small" installation. The installer gave two options: "Big," which was 860 MB and "Small," which was 660MB. I don't know if this is some part of the "new math" I'm missing, but 660MB is still a big footprint. For the sake of gameplay, though, I coughed up the full 860MB for the large install.

    The first time I ran the game, I was quickly introduced to the first of several minor issues. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was running Windows without a swap file. Apparently, Nakatomi Plaza didn't like this and proceeded to crash and give me a Windows error message. After fixing that issue, I was then annoyed that I had to hit the ESC key to bypass each of the opening credits videos in succession. There are 5 videos to skip. That gets really old after a while. A simple key to take you straight to the main menu would've been very appreciated.

    The game itself starts with a very cinematic feel. Lith-rendered cutscenes are used frequently and the models in the game are fairly accurate representations of the actors who played the characters in the film. All of this seemed pretty run of the mill until I heard the terrorists speak to each other for the first time. My mouth dropped as I heard properly formed and spoken German coming from their mouths. Impressive! I've seen countless games and movies just drop the ball when it comes to non-English languages. The simple truth that Piranha took the time to get this right earned them big-time kudos with me, as a fluent German speaker.

    The longer I played DHNP, the more engrossed by the story I became. Enemies behave in a realistic manner, attempting ambushes and sneak attacks. However, the game did develop a bit of redundancy the more I played. I began to notice the same textures over and over, the same enemies over and over. Granted the visuals were astounding thanks to the LithTech engine, but I still started to feel a strong sense of déjà vu the more I played.

    Despite the redundancy, the game maintained its entertainment value because of its fairly stringent adherence to the plot and flow of the original movie. The plot is well-developed and plot advancement occurs through a combination of action sequences and scripted events. Plus, a few extra scenes have been added to enhance and enlighten the story a bit more. The inclusion of these new scenes rounds out the play experience and removes the Deus Ex Machina feeling you might get from playing the game without them.

    If you equate good gaming with firepower, then Die Hard will certainly not disappoint you. It has firepower in spades. Granted, you start the game with limited firepower (a pistol), but you quickly move up the ranks to an AK style submachine gun, and other assorted boomsticks. In all, you have the following at your disposal at one point or another: an ax, a 9mm pistol, an AK-47 sub-machine gun, a S-A sniper rifle, an M16-A2 semi-automatic rifle, an M-60 machine gun, flash bang and frag grenades, and a fire extinguisher. That's right, a fire extinguisher. If conventional rounds don't kill 'em, just suffocate them with flame-retardant foam.

    The general interface, however, is somewhat less praise-worthy. The in-game interface is both awkward and at times too frustrating for tolerance. The contents of your left and right hands are manipulated separately. A button must be pressed to bring up a menu, an item selected, and then toggled to go into effect. Since weapons only ever occupy one of your two hands, it would have been very appreciated if the mouse wheel alone could've been used to scroll through weapons. On the same note, using the mouse wheel in combination with some toggle key would have been very appreciated for selecting secondary items in the other hand like the wire clippers and the Zippo lighter.

    Further, the game has some weird habits when it comes to system settings. For example, some video mode options go into effect as soon as you change them while others don't go into effect until you try to load or return to the game. Why? Other games like Quake3Arena and Soldier of Fortune 2 go ahead and switch video modes while in the menu. This allows the user to see if that über-high resolution is going work or not before attempting actual gameplay. Still, while minor, this eventually took a toll on my patience as I tried out different setups to get the best play configuration.

    Still, the experience on the whole was rather pleasant. While not grand and jaw-dropping like playing Quake3Arena for the first time, I still liked what I saw. During some research I did, I found out that this game actually had its birth as a total conversion for a different game. To see it come to fruition as well as this was a nice thing. I've seen attempts at making total conversions stand-alone products before and the results have rarely been positive.

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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction/Experience
    2. Graphics And Sound
    3. Pros & Cons/Conclusion
    4. Rating Breakdown

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