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Stranglehold, or John Woo Presents Stranglehold, is a third-person shooter developed by Midway Games' Chicago studio, released in late 2007 for Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It is Midway's first game to use Unreal Engine 3, and was developed in collaboration with John Woo.
Stranglehold is the sequel to Woo's 1992 Hong Kong action film, Hard Boiled, and stars Chow Yun-Fat in a reprisal of his role as hard-boiled cop Inspector "Tequila" Yuen. Stranglehold is the first project on which Woo and Chow have collaborated since Hard Boiled.
Inspector Tequila's principal advantage is his acrobatics and reflexes. During play, jumping in any direction or interacting with any object while aiming at an opponent (or pressing a certain button) will slow time, creating a short window during which Tequila can select (and destroy) targets. This technique— called Tequila Time —generates a cinematic effect that mimics Woo's. Tequila Time is managed through a meter which drains with use and regenerates with time. Tequila also makes use of his environment to great effect, moving up and down railings, swinging from chandeliers, and even sliding across tabletops and riding on carts while blasting away at enemies.
Another form of gameplay comes from the style and grace associated with Woo's balletic firefights. By taking out enemies you'll earn stars. The more stylish of a kill you make, the more stars you'll receive. Taking out enemies in quick succession, or interacting with the environment when taking down opponents, like swinging on chandeliers or grinding on railings, will earn you the optimum amount of stars. As an incentive to interact with your environment, Tequila receives a bonus to his attack power and defense during interactions.
Tequila also employs several iconic techniques from Woo's movies, referred to as Tequila Bombs. Tequila Bombs require energy to perform. The player gains energy by defeating enemies (equal to the Stars obtained) and by collecting paper cranes hidden about each level.
Stranglehold uses a heavily modified version of the Unreal Engine 3. Among these modifications is Massive Destruction (also known as Massive D), a set of physics technologies that allows players to destroy nearly every object in a given level. Stranglehold also incorporates a body swapping technique that randomizes parts of enemy character models, producing varied characters rather than repetitious clones.
Stranglehold incorporates location-based damage. The A.I. responds differently to various hit locations, varying enemy reactions with damage-mapped impact points. This feature is integrated throughout the game, but especially apparent during the second of four Tequila Bombs: Precision Aim. Also, while targets take time to recover from flesh wounds, they will eventually revive (even if unable to stand) and continue to fire until passing out from simulated blood loss.
Stranglehold contains dynamic in-game advertising, such as posters and billboards for real world products appearing during game-play.
Midway released a Collector's Edition for next-gen console versions of the game.
The PlayStation 3 Collector's Edition includes the aforementioned Hard Boiled fully remastered in high-definition and on the same Blu-ray disc with all the additional game extras and features. The Xbox 360 Collector's Edition includes the same extras and featurettes but on a separate disc without the Hard Boiled movie.
Also the Swiss got a so called "Special Editon". The Xbox 360 and the Playstaion 3 editions were both packed in a tin case with a holographic cover motif. Both versions came up with the original game and HD-remastered version of the movie "Hard Boiled".
Updates and downloadable content
On December 6, 2007 Midway released a downloadable map pack for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game systems. The map pack features 10 additional multiplayer maps, as well as 21 all-new multiplayer character skins. The Xbox 360 version also includes 10 new achievements worth 250 points.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lion Rock Entertainment is making the sequel to John Woo's Hard Boiled. The film will be based on the plot of Stranglehold.
|Official Xbox Magazine||7.0/10|
Stranglehold has an average review score of 79% at Game Rankings. IGN gave it a rating of 8.1 out of 10 for its cinematic flair and melodrama in the storyline true to the style of John Woo, enjoyable battles, and slick presentation. However, they said that the visuals were lacking, the game was too short, and inauthentic because the characters do not speak Cantonese. Empire Online gave it a 4 out of 5, also praising its "dynamic action", as well its "bombastic soundtrack" and "slick visuals". GamerNode gave the game an 8.5 out of 10, calling it the "ultimate guy's game." GameSpot gave Stranglehold a 7.0 out of 10, stating that although the game is solid in every department, it is repetitive, due to a short seven-hour single-player game and weak multiplayer. As well, Electronic Gaming Monthly stated that Stranglehold was "a game whose movie influences are more than skin deep."