The Die Hard films practically scream for a video game franchise. They’ve got mindless shooting and a plethora of expendable villains just waiting to get nailed by John McClain. Yet here we are, years after even the latest film has been nearly forgotten, and there are only a handful of games featuring the world’s unluckiest cop. Apparently there was a huge underground demand for a Die Hard/i] first-person shooter, as Vendetta’s release coincides with absolutely nothing. It’s not the series’ anniversary, there’s no new movie coming out (well, that’s a whole other topic), and quoting “Yippie ki yay!” is no longer cool. So the only reason gamers would want to see a Die Hard game is if it did something new or different; or at least did everything right. That’s just not the case with Vendetta. It’s a bland and featureless title that might briefly entertain, but will never be number one on anyone’s list.
Obviously you play as Bruce Willis’ alter ego, John McClain, and shoot your way through the Los Angeles streets. You kill the bad guy, move to the next room, shoot another guy and repeat. Sure, there are missions to complete but they’re goals that have been done before. The monotony of constant killing is broken up by small bits of police work – like investigating a shooting or finding a way to sneak into a building undetected. It’s a decent idea, but not very engaging, and it too becomes more boring than ingenious.
One intriguing aspect of the busy work, however, is the multi-layered way the levels unfold. Something will happen early on that doesn’t get resolved until much later in the stage, but doesn’t really affect the overall story or pacing of the game. For example, a man robs a store and the owner wants you to find him. Along the way many other events take place, but eventually you do run into the perp and take him down.
Even this is questionable, though. To continue on you must hear what people are saying to each other. Scripted events are commonplace here, and it’s extremely frustrating when someone you’re supposed to protect is killed due to your non-intervention. There’s no way to tell when you need to jump in and save the day. Instead, you watch a thug shoot a hostage because he mouthed off too much. Well, there was no cue, no way to know there wasn’t valuable information getting ready to be revealed; so now the guy is dead and you have to start the level over. The game almost penalizes you for not blasting everything away. McClain was eccentric, sure, but he knew when to lie low and listen.
Other traits of the films’ hero are mysteriously absent. He’s always portrayed as a near unstoppable juggernaut – constantly covered in blood, but still able to take out a room full of guards. Falling the equivalent of a few feet in Vendetta deals damage, and even a locked door is too much for the guy who single-handedly stopped a skyscraper full of terrorists. This could be overlooked for most other FPS’, but this is a game based on an existing character, and game play needs to reflect said character. Vendetta simply doesn’t do this very well at all.
Occasionally you’ll have to go into stealth mode to sneak up on conniving bad guys. Calling it stealth is a bit much, actually. While in this mode you hide your weapon and move slower. That’s it. McClain won’t talk while creeping, either, so often this is the only way to grab baddies without alerting them to your presence. Thing of it is, you can be in plain eyesight but as long as your gun is down the criminals never react to you. This alone makes the whole stealth mode poorly implemented?never mind that you rarely know when to use it accurately.
Navigating McClain is also a bit of a chore. Simply walking feels floaty and robotic. There’s no bobbing or weaving to signify that a human is the main character, and it seems like the entire field of vision acts as your body. Expect to get stuck on corners or anywhere the walls are remotely close together.
The visuals won’t win any awards either. The graphics get the job done, and the weapons look acceptable enough; but overall it’s not impressive in any sense. What’s most perplexing about this is the frame rate which chops along at a pretty sad clip. Nothing in the game should be taxing the Gamecube’s hardware, so the whole trip should be smooth as silk?or at least newly washed towels.
Rounding out the game’s deficiencies is the baffling lack of multiplayer: either cooperative or deathmatch. Can you imagine playing as Hans Gruber or Simon from the series? That would have added something to the mix, but it’s not even addressed here.
The only truly commendable feature found here is the apparent love of the movies the developers have. Avid fans of the movies will notice plenty of in jokes and references to previous films. The voice acting is surprisingly tolerable and you can feel the desire to add something to the series that the programmers and designers must have had. It’s just too bad the result is a generic shooter that offers little but could have been a whole lot more.