Stranglehold

by Mike Shea on 13 September 2007

I got into John Woo movies about twelve years ago after seeing a lot of references to his work from movies like Desperado and Lethal Weapon. John Woo's original Hong Kong action movies are the best in the world. The Killer remains one of my favorite movies of all time.

Video games based on movies almost always suck. It's a sound rule but, occasionally, the rule breaks. is one such time. While not truly based on a movie, the game is a sequel of sorts to Woo's Hard Boiled series.

is game that is a lot more fun than it has a right to be. It has flaws, quite a few of them, but the sheer entertainment of flying over an exploding table in slow motion shooting one of a hundred Hong Kong gangsters in the face with a 12 gauge makes up for them. The game refines the mechanics of other slo-mo action games like Max Payne and bundles it with piles of destructive environments. The game plays like a John Woo movie every step of the way.

The graphics aren't as spectacular as Bioshock but they do a great job capturing the gritty feel of Woo's movies.

It's easy to pick apart. There aren't enough different guns. The acting isn't very good at all. The plot is sort of stupid, predictable, and pointless. The game moves from one arena full of bad guys to another. In a few arenas you can only survive by ignoring all those cool dive and shoot tools they give you to hide behind pillars and snipe Ghost-Recon-style. Why give me the controls to dive into a room and blow people away in slo-mo and then take them away again?

These complaints are very minor compared to the sheer fun of blowing away 1300 Hong Kong gangsters. Yes, my actual kill count was around 1288 at the end of the game which took me about six to eight hours on the normal setting to beat. Some might complain about the time but I thought it was just about right.

isn't as graphically amazing, detailed, colorful, or rich as better games like Metroid Prime Hunter 3 or Bioshock, but it's pure fun kept me from playing those games while I dove over chairs and shot a pair of submachine guns into a guy less than a foot away. is wicked fun.

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