Stranglehold Review

I’ve loved Stranglehold ever since I spent hours playing it at E3. Before that, I was worried it would be another game hyped up because of the names tied to it that would ultimately disappoint. E3 changed that, and playing it the last two days has been an absolute blast.

Let’s get one thing straight: Stranglehold is not a game that will last you countless hours to complete, upon which you’ll have some sort of emotional awakening and find yourself depressed that it’s done. Instead, Stranglehold is an action movie in game form, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.

Imagine the coolest action scene you’ve seen in any John Woo movie. Now imagine how much cooler that could be, and you’ve got Stranglehold. The action is balls-to-the-wall, and there’s never a dull moment. It’s hard to put into words what playing Stranglehold is like from a technical and story standpoint, because just like action movies, when you write it down it sounds so stupid you have to wonder why it’s popular in the first place.

If you love action, any action movies, John Woo, or Chow Stranglehold is for you. The story is fairly typical revenge-styled fare, and even though it’s called a sequel to Hard-Boiled, those who have never seen the movie will pick up on it fairly quickly. Basically, Inspector Tequilla is badassery personified, and he could piledrive a flaming dumpster through a table to save a van full or orphans from Hitler and you’d just smile and go "That’s Tequilla for ya!"

That’s not to say the game is entirely mindless, though. On the harder difficulties (especially Hardboiled) it can be downright ridiculous beating some of the later missions. On Casual and Normal you can basically jump back and forth shooting a rifle at anything and everything that moves, hoping that you’ll blast the crap out of enough bad guys to clear the area and move on to the next, where you’ll be able to blast away even more bad guys for no real reason other than the fact they’re there. On the harder difficulties though, you have to utilize your environment more. That means more ducking, dodging, shooting things to create cool-looking kills, etc.

The environments are really the best parts of the game. Never before have I had so much fun interacting with the things around me. (Read: blowing them to pieces.) Anything and everything within reason can be destroyed by Tequilla’s Mighty Guns, and even things that SHOULDN’T be destroyed (such as a dinosaur skeleton) are blown to bits. Not only can you "kill" things like chairs, pillars, cars and walls, but you can also interact with a lot of things. Taking cover, running up poles, sliding down railings — if you’ve seen it in a John Woo movie, it’s in here. The only bad part is if you’re like me, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time just shooting the crap out of things like couches and pillars for no reason other than to shoot the crap out of them. (Sadly, if you run out of ammo you can’t really punch things into oblivion.)

If there’s one thing about Stranglehold I don’t like, it’s that it’s over far too soon. You can beat the single player game in 5 hours or so (unless you really go crazy with the environment), and the multiplayer is just a tacked-on experience. It’s still fun as hell going back through the game on harder difficulties, but for most people one or two play throughs will be enough before you get bored of Stranglehold.

For gamers who love action, and who giggle whenever you pull off a groin-shot or blow someone up, though, Stranglehold is the perfect game. It’s fast-paced, has a lot of action, and the environment makes sure each chapter is never quite the same when you go back through to beat it again — Stranglehold is the ultimate guy’s game.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my DVD player and I have a date with The Killer.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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