Right, so Stranglehold is the game of John Woo’s style of movie making. It’s a kind of gaming sequel to Woo’s Hard-Boiled, delivered in a third-person action sort of way. It’s not exactly Max Payne, but you can see the connections – especially since Max Payne was pretty much an open homage to Woo’s slow-mo-diving-through-stuff manner of filming shooty sequences. Woo even has a cameo in the game, just as he does in a bunch of his films. The show off.
Bullet time comes on pretty much every time you dive or leap over something – and you leap over things automatically, often in unintentionally comedic fashion. For some reason this is called ‘Tequila Time’ and it’s a rather different Tequila time to the one you might be familiar with.
Is it any good? Well, it’s pretty – Unreal Engine 3 pretty – and there’s plenty of destructible objects in the environment. Diving around shooting people in the face as you plunge fearlessly through a shower of debris is pretty satisfying – it never goes goes like this when I try it at home. Yeah, there’s nothing realistic or measured about Stranglehold, it’s a barrage of unadulterated gun-wankery, with non-stop cinematic frippery to dress up the repetition. Death, death, wads of gore, and great clods of ultraviolence – and hardly sophisticated with it. I’ve seen a few people moaning that the full game isn’t long enough, but judging by this I don’t suppose there’s much reason to care: it’s a concentrated dose, and you won’t need much to get your fix. John reports that the game gets a bit arse once you hit the Chicago levels, so maybe the demo will be all you need…
An absurdly high body count, ludicrous bullet-dodging nonsense, and a moderate amount of fun.