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Jeremy Jastrzab
07 Jul, 2007

Stranglehold Preview

360 Preview | It's got a hold on us.
For the first time in a long time, the fellows at Midway have a lot of top-shelf games lined up for the second half of 2007, with big names like Unreal Tournament III and Area 51: Blacksite, just to name a few. We recently had the chance to go hands-on with another big name. Stranglehold has managed to make quite a splash so far and we were quite eager to get reacquainted with Inspector Tequila. It turns out that so far, this attention is well deserved.

For the uninformed, Stranglehold is a video game sequel to the 1992 John Woo Hong Kong action flick, Hard Boiled. For its time, it was one of the finest and most bombastic action movies, though it only really made cult status. The movie told the story of Inspector Tequila, a “hard boiled” Hong Kong cop who goes out to destroy the crime ring that was responsible for the death of his partner. While the premise was there for your typical rogue cop flick, the characters and story had much more to it than just big explosions and egotistic “heroes” - though we won't complain about big explosions.

Still, to call Stranglehold hold a direct sequel would probably be stretching it. In reality, it is more of a follow-up and reprisal of the movie’s characters. The plot premise was basic, as Inspector Tequila's family has been kidnapped by the Asian triads and they’ve put him into service for them. Being the robust “cleaner” that he is, the triads have sent him off to clean out the opposing Russian mafia. Common sense says that he’ll eventually end up going against the triads but we’ll just have to wait and see. Furthermore, we’re confident that the premise will be fleshed out more, as it is John Woo who has a major role in the production of this game.

In terms of the gameplay, Stranglehold at a glance may seem like your any other third person shooter with some “bullet-time” tacked on for good measure. But after the time we spent with the game, we came away with the belief that Stranglehold will do enough to set itself apart. Sure enough, if you think that you’re tired of shooters where you’re primarily of clearing rooms in slow motion, then this game probably won’t be for you. On the flipside, if you’re tired of the empty promise of open ended gameplay and mind-bending choice, you just might find what you want right here.

Lots of guns, lots of blazing. Love it!

Lots of guns, lots of blazing. Love it!
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Simply put, Stranglehold is pure action at its fastest and most furious. From the three “levels” that we played, it was clean out one room and move onto the next. Before you roll your eyes, know this. Enemies will be coming thick and fast from just about every direction. And even though our build was still an early one, these weren’t your typical dumb mugs. They were not only relentless but actually had the sense to fire from behind cover.

At least the game gave us a fair bit of firepower and abilities to take on the seemingly endless waves. Among the dual pistols, assault rifles, SMG’s and even rocket launcher, we were particularly impressed by the effectiveness of the shotgun. For an early build, the controls were quite stable and so far, well tuned. While it was obvious that some more tuning was due, the signs were pointing in the right direction. As well as the weapons and “Tequila Time” (i.e. slow mo), you had three abilities at your disposal.

These abilities were represented by a circular meter at the bottom left of the screen. As you killed enemies, the meter would fill and gradually you had access to another ability. The first was “precision aiming”, which basically slowed down things and zoomed to a third person view. From there, if you hit an enemy, they’d be down for the count in one hit. It was quite fascinating how you could thread needles through curtains or how you were never guaranteed a hit. The second was “barrage”, which basically blew the ammo limit out the window and allowed you to go nuts with your current weapon (rocket launcher excluded). Thirdly, “Tequila bomb” cleared anything in a 360-degree range. Quite handy if you’re completely surrounded.

Now we get to the slow motion. Creatively titled “Tequila time”, we’re sure that a lot of you out there are thinking, “again with the slow mo?”. While we can’t quite put our finger on to why, this feature seemed to suit Stranglehold quite well and actually was quite fun to use. The game seemed to be very well tuned and allowed for some crazy maneuvers while in the slowed state. Part of the reason that we think it worked well was that it was a super convenient method for eliminating masses of enemies, or to just play around with the in-game physics. It may devolve into an entirely derivative feature, but from what we saw, it suited the game quite well.

Probably the most interesting feature in the game was the interactivity with the environment. The left trigger basically controlled your “dive”. While moving in that direction, pressing the left trigger would send Inspector Tequila diving off forward, backwards or to the side. While holding the trigger on the ground after a dive, you could roll left and right. This was surprisingly handy when put into practice. For example, we dove behind a slate, then rolled to the left to take one enemy out and then to the right to take out the other.

Whoa, that was CLOSE!

Whoa, that was CLOSE!
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Furthermore, the trigger will allow you to jump off walls, climb up structures that were giving off the flashing alert (including dinosaur skeletons) and riding across corridors on top of trolleys. It was during these sequences that the game was at its best, because it opened up a whole new avenue of potential for getting rid of enemies. What’s more, the game was well tuned and adequate at handling these sequences with the amount of control it gave you over your movements. Finally, low-lying structures and fixtures didn’t require the press of a button in order for you to slide across the top of them, hence leaving your movement unimpeded.

As the final build of Stranglehold approaches, we really hope that the game is able to build upon its strengths. The control you have over Tequila was well tuned and a lot of the actions were very intuitive and fun to pull off. There are still things that we haven’t seen, such as the touted “stand-offs”, boss fights and even more potential actions and interactions. While the developers themselves have admitted, you will get hit a lot and health packs have been generously spread about, the truth is, the game is trying to balance out the sheer amount of enemies that you’ll face. However, more than just the two weapon slots would be greatly appreciated, particularly in a game of this kind. Seriously, where on Earth is it written that a shooter can only have two weapon slots? What happened to the good ol’ days of massive arsenals?

Graphically, the game is holding up reasonably well, especially for the earliness of the build. The most impressive part of the game was obviously the damage model. Anything that wasn’t a wall could be destroyed or shattered with quite devastating results. You’d walk into a nice clean room, only to leave it completely trashed and run over. The character models seemed to need a bit more work as well, though it was mainly to smooth out the edges.

As we’ve mentioned, the strengths of Stranglehold lie in the potential for interaction, the control that players have over Inspector Tequila and the premise put forward by the pedigree of production. There were many, many ways for the player to go about their business, even though the game itself was relatively linear. The worst thing that could happen to the game would be to rest on these things and pump out a derivative shooter. However, from what we’ve seen, our concerns rest a little easier.
Overall:
Want relentless, unyielding action? Well, Stranglehold isn't too far away.

Related Stranglehold Content

Stranglehold Review
27 Sep, 2007 Get hold of it.
Stranglehold demo Live
08 Aug, 2007 You can try to be Tequila.
Stranglehold Preview
03 Aug, 2007 Back for another shot.
14 Comments
6 years ago
Hey look! Its Zarnoss' avatar...

Also. This game looks to be good, but personally I like my shooters with a little thought.
6 years ago
Stranglehold looks like it is to be a popular game when released and later in the future.
6 years ago
^ Your point?

I'm exited about Stranglehold. It looks very promising so far, and I'm expecting big things from it. Everything you read about it is positive, and I can't wait for September..
6 years ago
I hope it has twin handguns, endless ammo, crazy side dives and doves.
6 years ago
Looks sweet as icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
diogenes92 wrote
Stranglehold looks like it is to be a popular game when released and later in the future.
Why do I find that so amusing? icon_lol.gif

As for the game, at first I didn't really see much depth to the gameplay. Great, a wannabe Max Payne rip off starring Chow Yun Fat.

Now with all this coverage that this game has been getting, especially video coverage, I've actually started to consider this as a genuine purchase. It's like what I would have imagined Max Payne 3 to be, sans moody soliloquies, and stylized cutscenes.

And the environmental destruction, not to mention interaction... wowowowowow. Pants wettingly good. Plus that whole stand off mode. If you haven't seen that yet, check it out. It made me giggle with glee.

This looks like it is to be a popular game when released and later in the future indeed.
6 years ago
My thoughts exactly. Absolutely no originality in this title. It is going to be hard for this title to really grab my attention as it is up against some stiff competition in devil may cry, ninja gaiden and heavenly sword: - all hack and slash type games.

NOTE: - I still havn't quite mastered the "quote" function. Apologies.
6 years ago
the doag wrote
Capoeira wrote
As for the game, at first I didn't really see much depth to the gameplay. Great, a wannabe Max Payne rip off starring Chow Yun Fat.
My thoughts exactly. Absolutely no originality in this title. It is going to be hard for this title to really grab my attention as it is up against some stiff competition in devil may cry, ninja gaiden and heavenly sword: - all hack and slash type games.

NOTE: - I still havn't quite mastered the "quote" function. Apologies.
You do know that all you have to do is press the 'quote' button on the top right corner of the post you want to quote, right? icon_razz.gif

Have you seen any recent footage of the game? If not, definitely track some down if you can. The footage I've seen was shown on 'On the Spot' and The 1up Show.

I went from 'meh' to '!!!' instantly.
6 years ago
There is no doubting that this game has some serious polish to it. The totally destructible environments add to the excitement and the gunplay looks as fun as it ever has. However, as with a game like this it all tends to get real old, real quick. Unless....... the story is brilliant. ALA Max Payne. Fingers crossed, but at this stage i doubt it.

NOTE: - I do actually understand the steps in quoting other posts as i have been successful with it in the past. For some reason i found the previous example impossible to manage. Mabye had something to do with the double quotes. A quoter quoting another.
6 years ago
This is one of the games that is selling me the 360. I've hyped myself up for this big time, so good to hear a positive preview. And to all those who haven't allready, follow Cap's suggestions and watch gameplay videos.
6 years ago
Doag, see how you have '
Quote
' at the end of the quote?? all the have to do is add a '/' in front of it to end the quote.

Try it!

Edit: Btw eg. '
'
6 years ago
Capoeira wrote
As for the game, at first I didn't really see much depth to the gameplay. Great, a wannabe Max Payne rip off starring Chow Yun Fat.
Yippee, i can quote properly now. Sorry for taking this stranglehold topic off track. Ummm, lets hope it is a great game.
6 years ago
|[Aftershock]| wrote
Hey look! Its Zarnoss' avatar...
Heheh.
My avatar has alot more attitude.
(It's animated, I guess not many people notice that but just watch it for 5 secs icon_razz.gif )

Can't wait for this game to come out, the only thing I am hoping for especially is that it is pretty lengthy and retains that awesome destruction.
Good story will be a plus if it is but otherwise the previous two wants will suffice.
6 years ago
This used to be #1 on my most anticipated list but while production continued it was slowed replaced by Bioshock and then Alan Wake so it's #3 on my list now and not because I anticipate it any less but because i'm anticipating Bioshock and Alan Wake even more.

Max Payne 1 & 2 are some of my favourite games, the basic shooting mechanic of the game is so solid and so much fun I could seriously play it forever as long as the scenery keeps changing, so to see something like Stranglehold which involves an actor I love, a director I love and the basic 'shooting' gameplay that I love it's just a recipe for awesome.....the only problem with the whole setup is Midway. I have my doubts that they can pull off such a solid and polished game as Max Payne (if it was Remedy I would have no doubts whatsoever) but i'm keeping my fingers crossed and judging by impressions from a lot of different sites it looks like the game will end up to be quite solid and really I couldn't be happier.

The destructible environment aspect of the game imo is a major step in showing people how interactive a level will get just by making everything in it destructible/deformable in some way and is something i've been waiting quite a while to have implemented in my fave genres.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  20/09/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $119.95 AU
Publisher:
  Red Ant
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2007

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