Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza
In the grand scheme of things, Nakatomi Plaza really should consider itself lucky that it wasn't born human. Conceived in a heaving moment of misdirected lust in a sweaty garage, it would have grown into an obese, universally ridiculed but deeply intelligent adolescent described as having a "lovely personality" by sycophantic half-friends who actually mean: "they look like they were dropped at birth and let loose in a lard factory."
Tell It How It Is
So what am I trying to say here? It looks rubbish? Yes. It has hidden depths, which could be missed by the casual, undiscerning onlooker? Definitely. A quick glance around these pages will simply reinforce the former. Go on. Have a look. You know you want to. Closer. There, you see, I told you it looked bad. That's because it's using an early version of the LithTech engine, which given the fact that Nakatomi Plaza is based on one of the greatest action movie licenses ever (one which it not only follows to the letter, but expands upon considerably), is little short of baffling. It's like taking the cream of Hollywood's actors along with a well-woven script, and asking a wet-lipped first year film student to make the film using his dad's handycam. I think you get the idea.
However, like an NHS-bespectacled intellectual with gapped-teeth you could lose a meal in, if you take the time to get to know it, you'll find yourself becoming absorbed by its fairly substantial, non-aesthetic offerings. Whereas the majority of recent FPSs have gone down a more arcadey route, Nakatomi Plaza manages to capture the essence of Hollywood firefights, by melding tense bursts of action with some cleverly scripted set pieces (see panel), during which you must time your attacks perfectly; taking cover, firing, taking cover and more often than not, dying. Even on the easiest level (by no means the choice of slack-jawed simpletons, but actually a stern test for even highly-peppered gun lovers) the Al shows an uncanny amount of intelligence, throwing over tables for cover, acrobatically behind walls when you enter a room and running away to safety when they've run out of lead. Easy it ain't, although to say it's all good would be a complete bare-faced lie, as at times the enemy simply don't seem to acknowledge your existence.
The Good The Bad And The Ugly
Your 40 (yep count 'em, 40) level romp as dishevelled vest-wearing hero Detective John McClane is made all the more interesting by the inclusion of three personal monitors - health, heart-rate and morale - which directly influence your abilities to waste your sauerkraut chomping adversaries. The first is self explanatory, but it's the other two which add an original twist to the mayhem. Your heart rate goes up every time you exert yourself (run, jump, flush the toilet), and as your respiration level rises in your headphones, so does your inaccuracy with your gun. Morale is based on how well you perform. Offload a clip into a wall instead of an opponent and you'll start believing you're a cack-handed buffoon who couldn't handle a water pistol let alone state of the art weaponry. Perform well, and you'll be wearing your blood-encrusted vest with pride as your shooting ability soars.
Possibly the game's other great let down is its selection of weaponry. In all there are only four machine guns (including one which doubles as a sniper gun), a pistol and flash bangs, whose effects you'll feel when the enemy start hurling them at you with admirable accuracy, blinding you totally and blistering your eardrums with a momentary tinnitis-like ringing. There are also a couple of more novel ones such as axes and fire extinguishers, which are vaguely amusing.
You And Whose Army?
What's going to snare most of you though is Nakatomi Plaza's attempt to totally adhere to the film, and ultimately extend it. As well as playing through all the scenes from the film, you'll also find yourself in a series of unfamiliar settings and situations, such as plunging into rat-infested sewers, and avoiding trigger-happy S.W.A.T teams who mistake your barefooted tramp-like appearance for being that of a highly funded and immaculately prepared terrorist (the twats), while conversing with the incompetent law-enforcement agencies outside on your pilfered radio. Whereas the terrorists in Die Hard were made up of a small band of well-drilled specialists, running a near watertight operation, here, you find yourself up against an army. Every floor, while not quite infested, is brimming with enemies, who, bless their cotton little lederhosen, are intent on tracking you down and avenging the deaths of their comrades from the previous levels. Then again, 15-odd terrorists spread over 40-odd floors would have made for a pretty dull game.
The voice acting is surprisingly good given the game's poor presentation, and the garter-wearing officer Powell is played by the same guy as in the film (Reginald VelJohnson). While the cast can safely rip up any overly-hopeful thank you speeches written in a fit of self delusion for the next Oscars awards, they do on the whole manage to replicate the main characters (mainly McClane and chief-terrorist Hans Gruber) fairly convincingly.
Ultimately, though, Nakatomi Plaza is an entertaining licensed shooter, which is marred by a pathetically dated engine and pitiful graphics, a visual monotony which makes the somewhat varied gameplay and well scripted set-pieces tire by about the half way mark. However, it's the hidden pleasures that lurk behind its baseball bat violated face that make Nakatomi Plaza well worth a look, especially at this price. It's time to pull a pig off the shelf and realise that what lies within is well worth your attention. Still wouldn't shag it though.
Download Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
You play John McClane in this oddly dated return to the 1988 hit film but frankly, this first person shooter really doesn't bring much to the genre.
A good portion of the plot mimics the movie Die Hard, where an off-duty and barefoot cop has to take on a crew of terrorists threatening to blow up a building and kill a bunch of hostages. Unfortunately the game doesn't go anywhere near replicating the movies stunning visual effects. I found this FPS to be riddled with clipping issues and chunky poorly rendered graphics.
The plot is also poorly rendered, forcing players to follow a pre-defined route through all 30 floors of the Nakatomi Plaza. Despite it seemingly large size, the building is really just a tunnel, with all but the necessary doors locked and no way other than shooting, whacking or in some way killing, to get around problems. Your arsenal is also fairly limited, leaving gamers to rely only on an uninteresting assortment of five firearms and an axe. You also get to play with your police badge, wire cutters, Zippo lighter and Motorola Talkabout radio.
The game does introduce one unique element to the typical shooter fare, morale. Not only do you have endurance and health meters, but your character has to contend with his morale as well. The more dangerous times become, the more heavy firefights you get into the more your morale dips. And when it dips the angry the baddies get.
The low-end price of the game, just $29.99, goes a little way to make up for its lackluster performance, but not enough. Die Hard is a borderline diversion that's worth the price to die hard fans of FPS, but I'd warn all others to stand clear.