If you are a fan of bullet time then this is the perfect game for you. Stranglehold reminds me of an East Asian Max Payne. Chow Yun-Fat reprises his role as the cop named Tequila from Hard Boiled and the scene is set in the back alleys and crack dens of China.
With the story in place and the license to shoot as many Triad ‘muddertukkas’ in the face as physically possible (And believe me the body count is staggering) you are pushed into an alley filled with some pretty angry Chinamen. These opening levels are designed to ease you into the game (Unless the difficulty is set to Hard Boiled in which case good freaking luck) and introduce you to the control system and health regeneration system. Having spawned into the alley, without even blinking to get my bearings my instant reaction was to sprint around the first corner, hit Tequila time (Bullet time), jump through the air, land on a service trolley and roll 20 yards, all the while smashing the shoot button. From the moment the debris fell from around the square, the doves cleared, the dust settled, the bodies cooled and the trolley creaked to a halt, the carnage was addictive. The bullet time system is an extravaganza once you master it and the game finds the next level because of it.
Other Tequila time specials include sliding down hand rails while unloading four thousand rounds into the nearest drug dealer’s chest. Or if you’d prefer, you can dive round a corner, rolling and shooting the interactive neon signs & air con units making them splatter any unfortunate schmuck who happens to be underneath them. Or if it floats your boat, you can slide over a table, shooting the explosive barrels that litter the room causing them to incinerate anything nearby. Or come to think of it....hmmm.....I better stop because I could go on and on, I think you get the picture. Inspector Tequila can interact with anything in the level and with Tequila time in place any number of destructive outcomes present an option.
Amongst all of this there are style points which recharge other special abilities and standoffs which consist of aiming and shooting at an enemy while dodging his projectiles Matrix style.
The plot jangles on amongst the carnage and if you can follow it then it is a pretty good piece of writing. John Woo’s American film making abilities are often questionable (Hard target instantaneously popping into my mind – “WHY HUNT WHEN YOU CAN KILL” HAHAHA) but his Chinese films are epic and this falls somewhere in the middle of these forays. Besides I can’t get enough of them slow mo dove scenes so who cares. To be short the plot is a matter of opinion and if you despise cheesy Kung-Fu movies then you probably won’t like the story but rumour has it the game is being made into a live action feature providing some credibility for the plot in game.
If the story isn’t your cup of oriental infusion then the game play will more than make up for it so don’t be put off. Having said this, the game is short (Very Short; Around seven hours or so I’ve read) so be prepared. However ‘replayability’ is decent, especially in Hard Boiled mode which sees an extreme increase in difficulty so be prepared to play with a couple of plasters over your thumbs.
The short game play and poor multiplayer are the only thing that truly stain the game and that’s only because you want it to go on and on. However with the game being made platinum the price is minimal so it is really worth a punt if you’re short of ideas and want a game to just unload on. Great graphics, great game play and a great gun toting funfest. A short but insanely fun piece of software - 8/10