Hot Shooty: Stranglehold Demo

The Stranglehold PC demo has finally struggled its way onto the internet. It’s a big old beast, weighing in at a portly 2gb. You can get it from here.

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.


  1. LlamaFarmer says:

    This looks really fun. Don’t think I can be bothered downloading the demo, will get the game when it’s a bit cheaper though. I loved the Max Payne games.

  2. Seniath says:

    I dunno, I played the demo on the 360 and it didn’t really grab me in the same way Max Payne did. The story seemed a little flim flam, and ammo/health never seemed a real issue. Maybe it’d grow on me if I played it a bit more *shrug*

  3. Janek says:

    Well, it doesn’t even load for me. Forces a reboot on the initial control splash screen.

    Thumbs up for another completely professional Xbox conversion.

  4. arqueturus says:

    It’s absolute tosh. It’s like Max Payne without the good bits.

  5. essell says:

    I agree. Everything about it [the level design, the higher level game design, the enemy AI, the lighting, the character modelling, the art direction, the jerky animation] is a mess.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    After playing the demo, I found myself thinking the AI was *just* like a John Woo movie. That’s what the grunts do – run into the player’s fire.

    (The trick, I guess, would be a game based around you having to be gracefully aiming at that position just as they run in – in most John Woo Hong Kong flicks, the enemies don’t get to fire, etc.)

    Er… just thinking aloud.


  7. essell says:

    Yeah, that is the trick – and you achieve that through good level design [lighting, environment design, enemy placement] that subtly directs the player to play through the level how you want them to play it.

    Max Payne did it well enough, Half Life 2 does it exceptionally well, while Stranglehold doesn’t do it all all.