Released in 1996 for the PlayStation and later ported to the PC, Die Hard Trilogy was a movie-licensed game that was unusual in that it wasn't completely awful. Not satisfied to leave well enough alone, Fox Interactive decided to create a sequel. And let it be a lesson about not tempting fate, because Die Hard Trilogy 2 is really, really bad.
Like the first installment, Die Hard Trilogy 2 consists of three separate styles of play: a third-person corridor crawl, a driving game, and a first-person shooting rampage reminiscent of Virtua Cop. The developers created an all-original plot for the sequel, probably because the first game took the plots of all three existing Die Hard movies. The new story drops a wearily surprised John McClane into the middle of a prison break and a hostage situation and leaves him as the only thing standing between a suave Teutonic madman and the fiery destruction of Las Vegas.
The plot is presented as a series of plain cutscenes that take place between each level. The rendered performers don't have mouths or eyes, and they all look as if they're wearing stockings over their heads. McClane is voiced by an actor who sounds about as much like Bruce Willis as Dr. Stephen Hawking. Fortunately, Fox Interactive has provided you with two different ways to skip the plot: You can simply press escape anytime the full-motion video kicks in, or you can choose to play any one of the three modes without any interruption.
The driving mode, referred to in the game as "extreme driving," is easily the worst of the three subgames. The vehicles chug along at significantly less than the sort of breakneck speed you'd associate with the adjective "extreme," and the car physics manage to be both unrealistic and unenjoyable. You'll begin to wonder why the game is set in Las Vegas at all, since absolutely no attempt was made to portray the city's vibrant colors and bright lights. Die Hard Trilogy 2 contains quite possibly the most lifeless depiction of Las Vegas ever committed to any visual medium. Slow-moving vehicles, blocky and unrealistic architecture, muted colors, pedestrians that stand around like cardboard cutouts, and a plane of black fog that starts about 50 feet in front of you all conspire to make "extreme driving" an enervating antigame that should be avoided at all costs.
The third-person action-adventure mode fares slightly better, though it could hardly fare worse. The environments are uniformly drab, and the gameplay is uninspired - you just shoot, move forward, flip a switch, then fight a boss. The controls are too loose, and the enemy characters seem to do nothing but stride forward while shooting. Most of the levels have a cramped, institutional ambiance, and the claustrophobic feeling is unfortunately exacerbated by a reappearance of "extreme driving's" black fog curtain. Any possibility of using the close quarters to generate some in-game tension is ruined by the inexplicable way in which John McClane can see through solid rock. Perhaps in an effort to solve some camera-positioning issues, walls become transparent as you approach them. This grants you a clear view of what's behind or around any obstacle and generally makes the mode a total bore that lacks any suspense. The gun game is the best of the three modes. Though it's merely competent on its own merits, compared with the other two options, it's a triumph of moon-landing proportions. Although it has a few positive elements - for instance, the controls work well, even when using a joystick or mouse - dwelling on them might actually persuade you to purchase Die Hard Trilogy 2, which isn't the intent of this review. Instead, consider how the gun game perverts the idea of "power up": You start the shooting game with a pistol and can pick up other weapons by first exposing them and then shooting them, at which point they become equipped. It's a standard gameplay device to which Die Hard Trilogy 2 adds one nonsensical twist: None of the other weapons are as good as the pistol, and most of them are much worse! So if you accidentally pick one up, you have to quickly cycle through your weapons to get the pistol back. It's an original idea, but not in a good way.
The promise of three games for the price of one is appealing. Yet the notion of getting one profoundly awful game, one regular-awful game, and one just slightly awful game for the price of one decent product shouldn't appeal to anyone. Each of Die Hard Trilogy's subgames has been done better in stand-alone products that are currently available at bargain-bin prices, making your choice clear: Avoid Die Hard Trilogy 2 with a vengeance.