“A hardboiled, Hong Kong bullet ballet with cinematic grace and famous acting/directing talent.” That’s the promise Midway made when they unveiled John Woo presents Stranglehold at E3 ‘05. It sounded like a great concept and a spiritual sequel to Hard Boiled was exactly what action fans were looking for, but after two years of silence from the development team many where starting to wonder if the game was ever going to come out from behind closed doors.
Luckily that all changed last week when Midway finally unveiled a demo and gave gamers have their first choke of Stranglehold.
For those who weren’t into Hong Kong cinema back in 1992, Hard Boiled was John Woo’s last action epic before he left for Hollywood. With the help of Chow Yun-Fat and a talented stunt crew, Woo created Inspector Tequila, a no-holds barred, balls to the wall cop on a quest to take down Triad leader Johnny Wong. Over the course of the movie, Tequila engaged in a number of slow-mo gun battles, destroying a ridiculous amount of property and spilling an absurd amount of blood. Needless to say, expectations for Stranglehold are running high.
Luckily for true believers, Midway doesn’t disappoint. From the opening cinematic to the last round fired Stranglehold feels just like it should. Cut-scenes are filmed with John Woo’s trademarked style and feel more like they were filmed with a camera than animated in a studio.
Dialog feels natural and is very fluid. The caliber of acting talent working on the project is far superior to most other licensed titles on the market today. Many fans will be happy to note that the demo also features unusually strong writing, something also not often seen in a licensed game.
Game play itself is reminiscent of Max Payne with a similar focus being placed on slow-motion dives and gun battles. However, despite the similarities between the two games, Stranglehold is far more than just a clone. Where Max Payne would’ve been stopped by running into a low obstacle, Tequila just slides across it in slow mo and keeps going.