Format: Xbox 360

Age Restrictions: 18+
14 September 2007

Honour is his code. Vengeance is his mission. Bloodshed is his only option. Take on the role of Inspector Tequila from John Woo's influential action film,
Hard Boiled starring Chow Yun-Fat. Engage your enemies with intense cinematic gun battles and cause massive environmental damage in real-time or revolutionary slow-motion Tequila Time...

Action director John Woo presents Stranglehold, a 3rd-person action adventure video game and a sequel (of sorts) to Woo's action movie Hard Boiled. Chow Yun-Fat reprises his role as Inspector Tequila by providing his vocal talents for this game.

Gamers' take on the role of Inspector Tequila, a take no-prisoners cop waging a personal war against Hong Kong crime lords. Tequila's loyalties to the force are tested when his ex-wife is kidnapped by the Russian mob in Chicago. Tequila struggles to balance his duty to uphold the law with doing what it takes to save his family.

Stranglehold is a pretty impressive game, and one that you'll certainly come back to time and time again even after you've finished it. The story is pretty impressive and seriously blurs the barrier between movie and game.

The game is your standard 3rd person shooter, but with a few frills tacked on. You start the game with no real abilities, other than Tequila Time (which for a short amount of time slows the action down to allow you to quickly target and take down multiple targets). Eventually you can unlock four action abilities. There's the power to heal yourself; Precision Shot (where you can take out your target in one hit by being able to line up in your sights enemies that are far away or in hard to reach places); Barrage Attack (for a limited time you are indestructible and your weapon is more powerful than normal); and finally there's Tequila Bomb (where you spin 360 degrees, taking out everyone in your immediate vicinity).

To gain enough power to use these abilities you need to earn power points by take out your enemies. You are marked on each one for originality and accuracy - for example take out an enemy in one shot while rolling towards them on a trolley, or diving through the air, and you are likely to receive more power points than if you just run at them spraying bullets everywhere.

The environments are pretty impressive too. I've heard the term "truly destructive environment" before on numerous games and very rarely does it live up to the promise. Stranglehold handles this much better than almost any other game I've played. And it's sometimes fun just to run around and see what happens when you shoot things for the sheer joy of watching walls crumble before your eyes. Items are so carefully constructed that I got quite a bit of fun out of blasting some of the statues in the museum - watching bits fall off and finally crumble to dust. You can also use this to your advantage against your enemies. Hit a wall near a shooter, and they will protect their faces - allowing you to shoot them while their guard is down.

If there's one complaint it's that you do feel as though you are being led through the game - there is very little option to really explore your environment as you are shepherded around the levels. However, those who love 3rd-person shooters will find this pretty impressive, even if it is a little over priced.

Darren Rea

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