Retrospective: Die Hard Trilogy

What you talkin' bout? Willis.

There's a scene in Die Hard 4.0 where John McClane propels a car into the air and brings down an enemy helicopter. I remember sitting in the cinema, watching this ridiculousness unfold and hearing audible groans from the audience.

Part of me was cringing. Part of me was thinking, "Hang on! I'm sure I've seen this happen before..."

It became clear to me moments later. This was a scene from Probe Entertainment's Die Hard Trilogy, the video game which debuted on the PlayStation in 1996 and featured a separate game based on each of the first three films.

The Die Hard With a Vengeance portion sees you speeding around NYC in a taxicab, trying to defuse bombs against the clock. In the final stage you have to bash the boss's helicopter out of the sky by hitting a series of jumps.

Maybe the Die Hard 4.0 scriptwriters had played the game and included the scene as a nod to the guys at Probe? Die Hard Trilogy was, after all, one of the most popular and well known titles in the PlayStation's early years.

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Probe didn't have permission to use Bruce Willis' likeness, so they just went for the slightly balding bloke in a dirty vest look.

The game is memorable because it's so brilliantly bonkers and over the top it makes the films look tame in comparison. As such, the car versus helicopter scene in the game seemed perfectly acceptable, whereas in Die Hard 4.0 it's laughable.

The game starts as it means to go on, with the carnage level cranked right up. The Die Hard portion is a third-person shooter set in the Nakatomi Plaza. Before you've even made it out of the car park beneath the building you're knee deep in dead bodies, there's blood everywhere and people are running around screaming and on fire.

The action continues in the same vein as you move up the building, floor by floor, taking down terrorists and rescuing hostages. Every so often you encounter a boss. You really can't miss him as the word 'BOSS' is floating above his head in large red letters. The game is about as subtle as McClane himself.

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The infamous blood on the windscreen moment in all its gory glory.

For Die Harder, the style switches to a first-person, on-rails shooter set in Dulles International Airport. Here the gameplay is even more frantic - the waves of onrushing enemies never let up for a second.

Sega's Virtua Cop is an obvious influence and the game does support a light-gun controller as well as the official PlayStation mouse (remember that?). But whichever control method you use, Die Harder is a tough challenge. It's almost impossible to reach the later levels without using one of the built-in cheats.

Die Hard With a Vengeance is tougher still. The time limit you have to reach each bomb is super strict and a single wrong turn or unexpected accident often leads to failure. It maybe the most difficult of the three offerings, but it's also the most fun as you can just burn around the city, crashing into stuff and watching the game's crazy physics come into play.

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