Home / Xbox 360 Review: John Woo Presents Stranglehold

Xbox 360 Review: John Woo Presents Stranglehold

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Lighting up the screen with loads of gunfire, massive destruction, and countless dead bodies, Stranglehold is an unquestionable sequel to the 1992 action movie Hard Boiled. This is pure, classic styled video gaming that stands to create some incredible entertainment for the right audience. Unfortunately, the intensity wears off and the game degenerates into frustrating firefights that soon lose their luster.

Inspector Tequila, played by a digital Chow Yun-Fat, is a cop with an endless stream of ammo. Reloading isn’t necessary here. This is about massive battles, loads of debris, and action. Ridiculous, implausible, over the top action.

Amongst other things it does right, Strangehold flawlessly captures Hard Boiled in interactive form. Thanks to the format, this is wide reaching, and not confined to Hong Kong. This leads to varied levels and encounters that are shaky in terms of quality.

The first two levels open the environment to numerous memorable scenes. Leaping, diving, shooting, and what is easily the greatest destruction model ever produced combine to create the intensity needed. While it is only a matter of walking forward, shooting enemies, and moving on, it stays interesting thanks to the available means of defeating foes via the environment.

By level three, things begin to flat line. The environmental kills feel familiar, the levels are closed off, and the challenge is from the sheer number of enemies spawning from doors only they can use. There are numerous scenes that provide a special moment to remember, but you’ve already killed enough people that it stagnates far too early.

Capturing the style of a John Woo epic is enhanced by the aptly named Tequila Powers. These include the Precision Aim, Health Regeneration, Barrage, Tequila Time, and an all-out killer Spin Attack. You’ll need all of these to survive the later levels as enemies can barely be defeated by anything less than a direct head shot. Repetition from death doesn’t help either, and Stranglehold ends up with a retro feeling of repeating a level until you get it right.

Multiplayer is a ridiculous lost cause, horribly unbalanced and impossible to enjoy. With Tequila powers in full force, the game becomes a mad dash for the meter filling dove power ups to allow for a devastating killer in the form of a Spin Attack. Few players will appreciate the third person mechanics for the skill involved.

For its undeniable style and presentation, Stranglehold deserves credit. Never has a video game captured the flavor and stylings of a film director this beautifully. It’s a shame then that the game itself collapses onto itself well past its welcome (and can be beaten in a matter of hours if you’re dedicated).

Stranglehold is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, PS3.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.