Stranglehold - Review

Ages: M

At Halloween time, we break out of our usual restrictions to also review horror, shooters or unusual violence. We feel that Stranglehold fits the latter two categories.

Inspector Tequila Yuen is played by Chow Yun-Fat in a John Woo inspired Hong Kong drama that encompasses high body count, floors of gun casings, endless ammo, and total scenic destruction, all done in balletic slo-motion. Chow Yun Fat is a whirlwind, rides everything and shoots everything. He has been hired to find the kidnapped daughter and grand-daughter of the head of the powerful Dragon Claw Triad. Of course it adds a little frissson for her to have been Tequila's old girl friend. Three gangs -- the prestigious Dragon Claw – the nobility of the Hong Kong gang world, with codes based on honor and loyalty; the Golden Kane, an upstart gang -- daring, brazen and ruthless, and the Zakarob Syndicate – started by Russian emigrants who setup a crime syndicate in Chicago, provide the intense action necessary for the inspector to show his best form.

It's not just the shooting and the ability to totally destroy a scene; it's the moves. Tiger Hill and Midway make it possible for you to dance, spin and slide like Chow Yun-Fat. Dives, kicks and movement are all handled by the left trigger and are context sensitive. Get near a banister – and you activate the banister slide/run that lets you ignore steps for the more a flamboyant method. Get next to a wall and you activate wall move, and now you not only can safely hug a wall, but if you push the left analog stick you can lean out and target the enemy at the same time. Special environments are offered just so you can swing from chandeliers, slide on tables and roll along on carts.

The dives and shooting while prone are good survival action, and Tequila Time – slo–mo where everything is slowed down except for the Inspector is automatically enabled when you dive or when your reticule is near an enemy. One button controls the shooting for both guns, Manual Tequila time is close by on the right. The button control on the Xbox is perfect for this game. Midway has also released the game on the PS3 and the PC. It would be interesting to see how they have managed the controls on the PC.

In addition, there are Tequila Bombs, which are really special abilities that are introduced at different points early in the game; Health boost as soon as you get a Style point; Precision Aim is awarded in the Market place level, good for enemies that are far away or partially hidden; Barrage is perfect for taking out a group of enemies and comes in the Tao P level, and Spin Attack sends out a slow-motion whirlwind of destruction and kills all enemies in an area, awarded in the Mega Restaurant level. Stylish kills are rewarded with Style Points and as they accumulate, more Tequila Bombs become available -- hey this is S-t-y-l-e with a capital S.

Mission messages, hints and tips are conveyed through the cell phone. There are standoff Mini games that allow you to sharpen up your ability to shoot and duck at the same time. Massive destruction is part of the game and sparkly effects clue you into targets in the various settings, a car park in Chicago, casinos, markets full of watermelons, a penthouse, even a history museum are all ripe for destruction. This is Rampage to the max. Now that the game technology has advanced to the point where I can do the acrobatics of the Persian Prince and acquire the style of Inspector Tequila, how about making me dance like Baryshnikov?

Fun Factor: It’s the slo-mo that gets me – almost as good as the Cloak of Invisibility.
Female Factor: Only there for rescuing.
Player Friendly: The games starts off easy which gives you a chance to gather skills.

Reviewed by: Editor - 09/07

  • Stranglehold
  • © Midway
  • Platform(s): XBox360
  • To Order: XBox360 $56.99