As You Well know, Stranglehold is playing itself as the ultimate blend of game action and cinema - with John Woo actually giving his time to the project as well as his name, a digitally rendered Chow Yun-Fat and some of the most destructible scenery ever seen in a game. Statues crack, puffs of feather-cushioning burst from chairs and upholstery, chairs and tables are broken into their constituent wooden lumps as you pirouette gracefully into them in slow motion - it's neck-deep in graphical and technical wonderment.
But what more do we know about John Woo's step into the digital world? Quite a bit actually - including the fact that the old man who played the Key Maker in The Matrix Reloaded has also Ijeen rendered in pixellated form with more casting details to follow... The plot deals with Tequila (Woo's most famously hard-lx)iled cop, played by the cocktail-stick-chewing Yun-Fat) trying to save his girlfriend (conveniently daughter of a mob boss), who's lieen kidnapped by a rival gang - with the action being based around locations in Hong Kong and Chicago.
In terms of environments for you to blow up. in addition to the docks, teahouses and floating casinos previously shown to ZONE, you can add a few interesting explosive and bad-guy-littered levels to the list.
For example, there's a museum complete with a T-Rex skeleton you can break into many, many individual fossils; and a Diplodocus whose ancient neck you can slide down while shooting a variety of Asian men in the face with a shotgun. There's also a big room of ancient Chinese terracotta statues you can duck and dive around as well (perhaps not quite appreciating that they're over 2,000 years old and priceless).
In addition, there are a variety of markets, each selling the sorts of produce that look good when shot in half (watermelons, pig carcasses, electrical goods and the like).
Hard As Nails
But, seeing as this is a sequel to Hard Boiled. can't we also expect a bit of slo-mo shootery and innocent-patient massacre in a hospital?
"We have situations and actions in the game that happened in the hospital scene in the movie, but we're not using the actual environment, smiles Alexander Offerman, the game's producer. "You'll prolwbly pick up on some of these while playing the game. The teahouse is really our homage to Hard Boiled. Since we're making a sequel, we didn't just want to recreate the original movie verbatim."
Well, OK - but if Yun-Fat doesn't a) get a big old bandage over his left eye; and b) have one or two needless clarinet solos, then we're getting out our angry sticks...
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
We Were Asked recently whether buying Wanted: Weapons of Fate would be worth it, because the reader in question hadn't liked Stranglehold.
Now despite its flaws, Stranglehold is still a reasonably good third-person action game. (Better than the almost-criminally short Wanted, at any rate.)
Even if the games were identical, the ability to play as Tequila' Yuen from Hard Boiled (this is, after all, the official sequel to that Hong Kong action classic) would make it the more viable option for purchase. At this bargain price, it is an even better decision.
The game plays like a more console-y version of Max Payne, with the emphasis on blowing everything up. That means the scenery is incredibly destructible, with pottery shards, broken tables, chairs, crockery and plaster flying about all over the place as the bullets zing to and fro.
As with most of the good (and bad) games found in the lands of the cheap, Stranglehold hasn't held up fantastically well as time has gone by, but for a quick blast and a smidgeon of Tequila Time, there's few cheap games out there to beat it.
The game still feels tike it was designed for our pad-wielding drone brothers, but the level of destruction will keep all but the pickiest of action fans entertained for a short while.
Remember How Max Payne's enemies would casually chat about their love for John Woo? Remember how Max once described himself as "making like Chow Yun-Fat"? They were of course referring to the gunplay that Payne so consciously aped - but now, almost five years later, that action has been given its own official license. Stranglehold is an official spiritual successor to Hard Boiled, John Woo's magnum opus that saw Mr Yun-Fat massacre hundreds upon hundreds of Chinese gangsters in glorious slow-motion. We've been praying for a Max Payne 3, but we're thinking that we might have just been presented with something even better. Using Epic's super-spiff Unreal Engine 3 and boasting a cast comprising of the as yet unannounced Hollywood A-list, this is the new great hope for third-person action. Bring on the symbolic white doves...
The Bigger Picture
- That Looks Uncomfortable
The opening scenes of Hard Boiled took place in a Hong Kong tea shop in which a gun deal went wrong and Tequila took it upon himself to sort out the situation by shooting everyone. These screens show that levels in Stranglehold follow a similar template.
- Mid-Flight Knacks
When gracefully flying through the air, Tequila v/ill be able to interact with the scenery in many and varied cool ways - swinging on a nearby chandelier, for example. He'll also be able to leap onboard moving objects and run up conveniently-placed railings.
- Stop... Tequila Time!
This time round, bullet-time is labelled as Tequila Time-something that sounds suspiciously like a Wetherspoons drinks promotion. Still, at least they've mastered alliteration as well as ultra-violence.
- Location, Location, Location
The Chinese Lantern and Chinese wrong-doer seen here suggest a Hong Kong locale. Tequila will also journey to Chicago, however, when the Russian mafia kidnap his favourite ex-wife and ignite his s o-mo indignation.
- Double-Handed Delight
Whenever a game features dual-pistols, whether it likes it or not it's a direct homage to John Woo. which is why Woo himself gracing cur monitors is of such significance. We're aware his recent Hollywood films have been shit though.
- Peplastering Work Needed
Midway is descrioing Stranglehold's Havok-infused physics as 'rock tf roll' - essentially meaning that everything in the world is destructible if you choose to spray bullets at it. This column being a prime example.
- Calling Cards
As well as floaty bits of paper cascading around you, other Woo trademarks to look out for are churches, symbolic doves, evil men who actually aren't evil and angry police chiefs who shout lots and some cool moves with shotguns.
- Gouraud-Shaoing! 3D Modelling! Action!
Woo himself is directing the storyline, the camera placement and the cut-scenes of Stranglehold - and the action couldn't be more his style either. Whether lie appears in the game as a wise barkeep as he did in Hard Boiled is as yet unknown.