If you're a fan of John Woo or feel the need to blow through things with wild abandonment then Stranglehold should be on your 'To Do' list
Inspector Tequila serves up the kind of justice we all like to see – violent and over the top with a pinch of crazy thrown in.
Based off John Woo’s Hard Boiled film, Stranglehold stars Hong Kong police inspector Tequila in the lead gun totting role. Soon enough you come to find a less than orthodox approach to keeping the peace as practically everything you do will involve bullets zipping through bad guys, or some poor vase that got in the way.
Beautiful locations and rich character models
There can be a crazy amount to interact with, or just blow up
The destructibility of the environments is great and really whips up a chaotic rhythm, even cover doesn’t last all that long as it takes a pounding. You’re always on the move as you try to out flank mobsters or decide to pull a fancy manoeuvre, like running along a banister then leaping to swing from an oversized chandelier. There are loads of interactions whether it’s running along something, gliding, or shooting it. You’re given a visual cue to perform these kinds of actions, later on it becomes pretty much given that you’ll be able to use any railing to run along or leap from. This can be a bit tricky if you need or want to run along a pole that’s surrounded by other interact-able spots, you have to 'aim' with the camera.
The graphics are fantastic with certain character models being given extra special treatment like Tequila, who completely resembles the actor Yun-Fat Chow who plays the Hong Kong Inspector in the John Woo’s film. The bad guys are more generic but are great enough to illicit satisfaction as you gun them in more delicate areas of the human body. An over the top shooter like this just wouldn’t be complete without its eye watering groin shots.
Tequila vision is your new best friend as it slows down time to let us get more bullets flying, similar to what bullet time is except with the John Woo factor. Sliding about the environment and aiming at enemies will automatically put you in Tequila vision so it saves you the trouble of having to slip in and out of it yourself; though you can do that. Its great for helping you see local hazards you can exploit like a deliciously placed air conditioner propped above some criminal fraternity.
It also plays a more unique role in Mexican stand offs, these happen at certain points in a level and start nice and easy. Later situations can get crazy as you get more guys that need to be delivered bullet sealed justice. Basically you face each of them one at a time, they shoot their guns and you have to dodge the incoming bullets while taking some shots yourself. If you take too long with one then your switched to another and will just have to kill those you missed like usual. Dodging the bullets may seem easy what with Tequila vision but the challenge ramps up more and more.
Precision shot, effectively deadly and just plain funny sometimes
Mexican standoffs start easy and then descend into hell
Some levels come with guitar cases but you won’t be blasting out a musical number, you place these at the beginning of the levels where you like. The cases are a tremendous help because when you run over them you’ll be given a boost of health and fresh ammo. They’re not constant and will need to recharge so it’s best to plan when to use them otherwise you could be struggling with little health and ammo.
The best part would be the incredibly useful and sadistically fun Tequila bomb special abilities. Tequila vision will automatically recharge but to use a 'bomb' move you need something else, it to can recharge but it needs you earning style in your killings and moves or for you to collect numerous paper cranes hidden throughout the levels. The Tequila bombs are health, precision shot, barrage and the crazy all-out spin attack move complete with flying doves, the John Woo trademark.
The first lets you exchange some of the meter for health which is very handy in a tight spot. The second and arguably the most fun is precision shot, it zooms in on enemies and lets you follow the bullet to its destination - the unfortunate recipient then tends to die a tragically slow death. Barrage is especially deadly if you know the bad guys are lined up and your short on ammo, Tequila equips his magic cartridge and blasts away like crazy. It reminded me fondly of the Scarface game when Tony Montana goes into rage except without presence of the colourful expletives. Lastly the Spin Attack is the most potent of the moves if you have good timing, Tequila will spin around with what weapon you’ve got and blast away killing all enemies in the radius while white doves burst into the air around him.
Bosses are much more interesting than the thugs you’ll be blasting your way through in Stranglehold. They have a lot more health and tend to really come at you with a vengeance, while you can use the Tequila bombs on these guys the best would be to use Barrage as Tequila becomes practically invulnerable and you have infinite ammo for the duration. In fact couple that with two micro-SMGs and you’re set to bring anything down quick, but each boss has certain tendencies and some are less inclined to just stand there and take your punishment.
The controls for the PC translate quite well from the console, you can tell from the menu it’s a port and not a natively developed game. The lack of anti-aliasing or sound configuration was a little annoying but overall the game plays through in tip-top shape. There aren’t many controls to worry about so there’s not much fuss getting used to the game or sampling the good crazy that is Stranglehold gameplay.
Tequila doesn’t let a little blood slowdown his day
Cover won’t always have your back
The levels are varied as you traverse a number of locations seeking revenge, the tragic part of Stranglehold is how short it felt by the end. Just when the story wraps up I was still hungry for more gun-laden justice with Tequila bombs all round. While it lasts the action and story are great with the varied environments, direction and cool & creative ways to bring pain to the bad guy. If you’re a fan of John Woo or feel the need to blow through things with wild abandonment then Stranglehold should be on your "To Do" list.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Precision shots, the right combination of deadly, funny and erm… well precision.