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Die Hard: Vendetta

by David Trammell - December 26, 2002, 2:17 pm EST


This is a classic example of a poor game based on a good movie license.

Die Hard Vendetta could have been a good game. It has a lot of good ideas (often borrowed from other games, but good nonetheless). Unfortunately, even with the best ideas, a game cannot survive poor execution without losing most of its appeal.

The first thing most players will notice about Die Hard Vendetta is that it's ugly. The textures are just plain bad. Environmental shadows and lighting are present but somehow minimal and dirty looking. The animation doesn't fare any better. One painfully recalls the opening of the first level that features Officer Powell, the policeman from the first movie who chats with John McClane (Bruce Willis' character) over the radio throughout. In the game's first level, Powell is hunched over a police cruiser's hood examining a map in front of an art museum. His body is frozen like a statue, but his head follows you around anywhere you go while his mouth and lips move if he's speaking to you. The effect is hilarious to look at, although other characters admittedly animate a little better than him (but you'd think that they would pay special attention to the game's star character). There are a few nice attempts at special effects such as the water and glass doors that refract light in various directions, but overall the graphics are just bad. Top this off with an inconsistent framerate and Vendetta is definitely a loser in the visuals department.

Sound effects are noticeably bad as well. Although the human fist generally doesn't make much noise when a person punches the air, the silence sounds extremely weird in a video game. Even the slightest noise would have sufficed. Go ahead and punch the air a few times to see for yourself. There should be at least a small noise from the movement of clothing. Gun sound effects aren't much better than the silence though, as they lack the aggressiveness that is warranted for this type of game. The voice acting is passable, but many lines sound rather forced. Reginald Vel Johnson, who played Officer Powell in the movies, lent his famous voice to the game, but combined with the poor visual display mentioned above, the result is mediocre at best. The Bruce Willis voice-alike is okay, but he could have been better. Willis has a very distinct voice that fans of the actor will likely miss while playing the game.

By far the worst part of Vendetta is the controls. Bad graphics and sound can be forgiven if the game itself is worth playing. Unfortunately, it's hard to enjoy a game with controls as bad as this. Getting used to the slightly unresponsive feel may have been possible, but the lack of customization will remove this possibility for most. It's not the lack of customization alone that makes the controls bad though. The problem is that Vendetta basically mimics the dual-analog control scheme of other shooters. By now, gamers across the world have gotten used to a particular style of control for their console shooters. To deal with this, a developer must strike out in a completely new direction (Metroid Prime) or provide complete control customization (Time Splitters 2). Developers can get away with a few presets or a single tried and true control scheme for games that have little control variation within the genre, but the first person shooter genre does not fit this description. Though the game features an auto-jump that activates when you run off of a ledge, manual jumping was retained for jumping up small ledges. The developers should have extended the auto-jump to include jumping up to ledges, or else cleverly designed the environments so that the need for manual jumping would never arise (ala Perfect Dark and Time Splitters 2). This would have freed up a precious button, simplified the controls, and allowed for movement/strafing on the right analog stick.

Gameplay consists of standard shooter stuff with a few extra things mixed in such as the stealth and hero modes. Stealth mode pulls your firearm close to your chest, decreases your movement speed, and, most importantly, reduces your sound signature. As in most first person games, stealth does not work very well because of the viewpoint. If you want stealth, wait a few months for the port of Splinter Cell. Hero mode is a nice touch that is reminiscent of the boost pills found in Perfect Dark. It basically slows down the game time, which simulates hyper reflexes that, apparently, heroes such as McClane are endowed with. Hero time is accumulated by saving civilian hostages. During the game, some opportunities to take hostages of your own will also arise. You can grab enemy soldiers from behind and attempt to get their buddies to drop their weapons. However, if you don't get the leader, you'll find that your newly acquired leverage is not worth all that much. Arrested suspects may provide information as well. As you can see, there are some good ideas here that could have been part of a great game, but the rest of the package brings it way down.

Speaking of the rest of the package, there isn't anything else. The game amazingly has no multiplayer to speak of. In a typical first person shooter, this is unheard of. Perhaps the team realized that any multiplayer effort would have easily been outclassed by other games such as Time Splitters 2. Unfortunately, their single player game is easily outclassed as well. If you're looking for a great FPS, you'll definitely want to look elsewhere.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
5.5 6.5 5 6.5 4 6

Poor textures combine with bad animation and a weak engine to make a mess of limited visual appeal and inconsistent framerate.


The rest of the game is not nearly good enough for the sound design to make an appreciable impact on the experience. The music is nice, but the sound effects are insignificant and lack any detectable processing for environment.


A hodgepodge of poorly considered elements and three seemingly random control configuration with no customization.


If you can get used to one of the three control configurations and get past the unprofessional look and feel of the game, you might find some enjoyment by playing Vendetta as an arcade style shooter using the auto-aim feature.


Die Hard Vendetta has no multiplayer. If the game had been better overall, the omission would be more tragic than it is though.


There are much better first person shooters on available.


  • Auto jumping, Hero mode and Stealth mode
  • Floating aimer in the style of Goldeneye
  • Good license and good gameplay ideas
  • Bruce Willis did not lend his voice to the game and the McClane model looks nothing like him (though this isn't Willis' fault)
  • Floating aimer feels a tad over-responsive
  • No control customization
  • No multiplayer
  • Poor execution and presentation
  • Poor graphics and mediocre sound
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Shooter
Developer Bits Studios

Worldwide Releases

na: Die Hard: Vendetta
Release Nov 19, 2002
PublisherVivendi Games

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