I’ve been a fan of John Woo’s Hardboiled for years now so when I heard they were going to make a sequel to it in the form of a video game I just had to have it. Stranglehold, from Midway games, is John Woo’s spiritual sequel to Hardboiled and right from the begining you can tell that we’re back in the world of Inspector Tequila. A lot of people will say that Stranglehold is a rip off of Max Payne, but let’s be honest here… Max Payne was heavily influenced by John Woo’s movies so it’d be fair to say that it’s come full circle. With that being said the biggest question was whether John Woo could make a game as exciting and innovative as a his movies.
Stranglehold continues the story of Inspector Tequila, voiced by Hard Boiled’s star Chow Yun Fat, who’s investigation the kidnapping and murder of a Hong Kong policeman. His investigation draws him deep into the criminal underground in Hong Kong and Chicago, battling against various Chinese gangs and the Russian mafia. It’s an interesting story and we get to see some familiar faces which is nice, but it’s not the story that draws you into the game, it’s the action.
To sum up the premise, you’ll be spending the majority of your time blowing stuff up and killing as many gangsters as you possibly can. You get to use the Tequila Time, an effect that slows down time and allows you to take down multiple foes. Think of it as the action style used in the Matrix movies, or in the Max Payne game. Tequila Time is one of the game’s biggest features, and gives the game a different look than most third person shooters out there.
The level of environmental interactivity within the game is simply stunning, you can shoot everything and anything and do damage. You can slide down or run up banistersm and even run along the spine of a dinosaur. A neat feature was the ability to shoot parts of the environment to either kill your enemies. From boulders to neon signs to pieces of art, you can use dozens of objects to take out the enemy. The more enemies you kill the more Tequila Bombs you’ll earn, which are instant power ups that will help you throughout the game. The Bombs consist of allowing you to heal yourself; the Spin, which shows Tequila spining around and taking out every enemy on screen; Precision Aiming, which gives you the ability to take out a foe from a distance with a precise shot; and Barrage, which gives you unlimited ammo and rapid firing for whatever weapon you’re carrying, something we highly suggest trying with the rocket launcher.
Once you’ve made it through the game make sure you check out its multi-player feature, while it may be a bit bare boned it’s extremely fun. Using all the features from the single player game, the Team Deathmatch with a large group of players can be really fun. Sometimes it’s fun to just go out and shoot people up. Some might complain that the mult-player isn’t complex enough, that it’s too basic, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. With multiple maps there’s enough difference to make the gamplay a bit varied.
Visually the game looks great, and it’s one of those games where you have to check out the entire enviornment before you start roaming around shooting everything up. The game’s audio is pretty solid as well and it’s nice to hear Chow Yun Fat reprise his role as Inspector Tequila. The action sound effects are excellent, with all the different weapons having their own disctint sounds.
Overall, Stranglehold is a fun game that can be played in single-player and multi-player. It’s nothing earth shattering or ground breaking, but it succeeds in doing what it’s supposed to do… make you have fun. This is definitely something I’d recommend to buy.