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Stranglehold: True Woo

John Woo Presents Stranglehold lives up to its namesake's signature style.
John Woo Presents Stranglehold lives up to its namesake's signature style. (Midway Games/ign.com)

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Friday, September 28, 2007

It may seem like director John Woo has been making video games for a long time; game makers have been copying Woo's trademarks, such as slow-motion action and dual-pistol diving, for more than a decade. But John Woo Presents Stranglehold (a virtual sequel to his Hong Kong crossover action flick, "Hard-Boiled") marks his first foray into interactive entertainment.

The game brings all of the cinematic action elements Woo pioneered into a story he helped write. Woo also directed Chow Yun-Fat, who reprises his role as Inspector Tequila, the game's main character. Stranglehold's serpentine story involves gang warfare in Hong Kong and Chicago and the kidnapping of Tequila's ex-girlfriend and daughter, but the melodrama is really just a backdrop for the action. Stranglehold is all about killing enemies. Midway has built elaborate, highly detailed, next-generation shooting galleries, such as a Hong Kong restaurant-casino, a history museum and a penthouse suite, that crumble and fall apart as the bullets dance.

In true Woo style, the environment is destructible but also an ally. Tequila can slide down banisters, hang from chandeliers and dive onto moving carts, all while targeting gangsters with his dual Berettas. Tequila Time allows players to slow the action and offers sepia-toned visuals as you pick specific body parts to shoot. The game also has four types of Tequila Bombs that offer such aids as short bursts of invincibility, enhanced firepower and a room-clearing, 360-degree firepower that lets Tequila obliterate enemies as doves fly. If you get tired of Berettas, Tequila's arsenal includes a shotgun, assault rifle, machine gun and rocket launcher.

Although the game's single-player story provides about eight hours of action, it's a fun ride, one worth playing again. The game's one major flaw, a poor default camera, can easily be fixed by turning on the "camera spring." Another negative: The six-player multiplayer options are thin.

But Woo's first game is worthy of his name.

-- John Gaudiosi

John Woo Presents Stranglehold Mature; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 ($60); PC, $50 (The PS3 Collector's Edition comes with "Hard-Boiled" for $10 more.) Midway Games John Woo Presents Stranglehold Mature; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 ($60); PC, $50 (The PS3 Collector's Edition comes with "Hard-Boiled" for $10 more.) Midway Games


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