Blame it on Demi!
I shouldn't have to tell any reasonably intelligent game designer how hard it is to impress today's desensitized legions of gamers. We can be a snide, condescending group of people when it comes to concepts like "originality," so developers usually pull no punches with each new and/or improved game engine.
Where first-person shooter games are concerned, we're often promised new and fanciful things; enhanced Quaziplexic NPC A.I., incredible adamantium-driven motion capture, even real-time shpidoinkle shading - at framerates equal to the speed of light!
Well, developer Piranha Games has decided to throw us a curve ball with their new FPS, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza, by giving gamers exactly what they've seen before a dozen times over - weak graphics, inaccurate targeting, and AI distinctly devoid of the "I." "It's a plan soooo crazy it just might work!" say the developers, repeating what the Turkey told them from the 151 proof bottle of Bourbon lying empty in their office.
Using the latest version of the Lithtech engine (No One Live Forever, Aliens vs. Predator 2), Die Hard: NP attempts to recreate the events from the 14-year old Bruce Willis movie that we've all seen a quintillion times. Terrorists have taken over a 40-story L.A. office building during a party that Mr. Nakatomi is holding for his friends and co-workers. You, John McClane, New York Detective, decide that being a cop from another state doesn't mean you're off-duty and it's one-liners and gun fights from then on.
Sounds like the making for a great game...but it isn't. For one thing, those snappy Bruce Willis one-liners aren't delivered by Bruce Willis. Alan Rickman's creepy evil mastermind speeches aren't delivered by Alan Rickman. The failure to secure the real voice talent takes away from the kitsch value.
Die Hard: NP does the Lithtech engine no justice. Textures are bright and colorful with decent bits of detail, but the character models are very blocky with low polygon counts and terrible animations. The environments are bare; furnishings and room designs often repeat. It's a wonder how No One Lives Forever was made from the same engine. Die Hard has none of NOLF's graphical splendor.
I will say the game is consistent in its ubiquity. Many of the events in the movie are recreated, but the movie is less than two hours long. To make up for this, there are a ton of added sequences to stretch the gameplay a little beyond twelve hours. Too bad these additions are just pilfered objective ideas from other games, like rescuing hostages, escorting other NPSs, disarming bombs, etc.
Puzzles are few and mindless and your wire cutters will solve most of them. Also, make sure to frequently check your Objective window, because the game gives you no indication for mission updates.
Die Hard: NP's only stab at thinking out of the box is its 'realistic' movement. You move like you're already wounded - which you are - via this sluggish walk with too much unnecessary camera movement (thankfully, camera wobble can be turned off). If you run, you will quickly deplete your lung meter (stamina), leaving you too tired to run any further. Jumping and climbing are now out of the question until you rest.
You also have Health and Morale meters. Health is obvious, while the latter is intended to represent how NPCs will react when they encounter you. I would like to elaborate, but all enemies treat John with the same mild contempt and lack of initiative. I have seen no deviation, even though the meter does move.
Occasionally, enemies will fire once they've spotted you and some will even give chase or fire around a corner. But usually it's just stationary enemies in plain view receiving shots in the back, seemingly unaware. It's funny for five minutes, and then you realize only an editor/writer with thoughts on their paycheck or free games would see this thing to the painful end.
Counterstrike veterans will find themselves at home with the game's artillery. Your main crime-stopper is the MP5, but you will find a Steyr AUG, M60, Colt M4A1, flash & frag grenades, 9mm pistol and other munitions along the way. The weapons handle fine, although none of them are as accurate as I think they should be. Oddly (or maybe not oddly; I'd have to watch the movie again), John is left-handed with no option to change the weapon model to right-handed. This is frustrating for me, a right-handed gamer who has always played FPS games with the gun on the right. So needless to say, the bad AI, awkward character animation and inaccurate weapons make the firefights far from exhilarating.
Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza is simply a sub-par first-person shooter. Their first mistake was using a 14-year old movie and not the voice talent that made it popular. From there, it was all downhill. The poor use of a decent engine coupled with bad AI and a total lack of multiplayer (!) leads to a game that spites its namesake and dies easy on my wall of shame.