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REVIEW: ‘John Woo Presents Stranglehold’

John Woo Presents Stranglehold

Every self-respecting action movie fan has heard of legendary Hong Kong director John Woo, whose credits include everything from “Face Off” to “Mission: Impossible 2.”

Now Woo has set his sights on video games, and the result is every bit as compelling as anything he has ever captured on film.

John Woo Presents Stranglehold is the spiritual successor to “Hard Boiled,” the intense shoot ’em up that helped introduce Woo to the U.S. audience. Chow Yun-Fat reprises his role from the film in Stranglehold, lending his voice to the gritty Inspector Tequila.

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From the opening cinematic, it’s easy to see Woo’s influence on the game. The harsh camera angles, intense close ups and dramatic, acrobatic gun fights that are synonymous with Woo films are all present here. And doves. Don’t forget about the doves.

While there’s plenty of style to be found in Stranglehold, there’s some substance here, too. The gameplay is surprising deep for a third-person shooter. As you progress, Tequila will gain access to different power-ups known as Tequila Bombs that do such things as giving you a boost of health or allowing you to zoom in on your target for especially gruesome kills.

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To use these special powers, you need to fill your Tequila gauge. This is done by earning style points during battles. The best way to accomplish this is to make use of Tequila Time (Stranglehold’s answer to the slow-motion “Bullet Time” effect) and the environment during firefights. Thugs can be taken out as you slide down handrails, leap through windows, roll across the floor on a cart or hang from a chandelier. Using these interactive environments is simple (just hit the left trigger) and they’re highlighted during play so they’re hard to miss.

Stranglehold is an over-the-top shooter with a heavy dose of John Woo influence. And that’s not a bad thing at all. If you’re a fan of action games, Stranglehold is certainly worth a look.
Rating: 7.8/10

Publisher: Midway Games
Developer: Midway Games
Sugg. retail price: $59.99
Rating: M for Mature