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3.9 out of 5 stars
Stranglehold
Platform: Xbox 360Edition: StandardChange
Price:$8.24 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2007
Wow...what is there to say about Stranglehold?

If Bioshock was your lovemaking session, then Stranglehold would be the cigarette that you need afterwards to recovering while waiting to go another round (Halo 3).

Many comparisons have been made between this and Max Payne regarding the style in which this game is played but also I think a dash of Devil May Cry was added to this recipe.

This game also reminds me of Tomb Raider without all the puzzles.

But most of all the game is balls to the wall action.

Stranglehold is pretty much a straightforward action movie which you control, where you must simply mow down hordes of enemies but in the most stylish way possible; if it moves, kill it.

By doing so, you advance the story. And it so far is a decently told story, not a great blockbuster but if you have watched enough Hong Kong cops and robbers movie, this is what you are getting. The story is simple: Drug kingpins are killing cops....kill all the kingpings until you find head kingpin....does it need to be more complex than that? NO!

You will be too busy destroying everything in sight and I do mean everything. While you are making your merry romp thru the streets of Hong Kong, not only will you find that you can shoot up the set around you but also there are certain peices that you can shoot out to cause more destruction....properly placed baddies can be killed by exploding barrels, dropped air conditioning units, rocks and much more.

And of course as you proceed, you get power ups as you go to slow down time (Tequila Time), hit enemies in certain spots (Precision Aiming) and all out mass killing (Barrage)not to mention the signature Woo Mexican Standoff (which really is a mini game in and of itself).

there are also many weapons including the Golden Pistols which you ca get early on if you know where to look.

Does it get repitive after awhile? Sure...but it doesn't stop the fun. In fact there is one level that you play that lifts the idea from G.R.A.W. where you face attackers from a helicopter.

How well does it control? It handles itself pretty well once you get it down pat. There are no changes to controls once you are dual wielding guns and if you ask me, sticking yourself behind coverage in some aspects handles a lot better than Gears of War. One button push, look and fire and run when done.

Graphically speaking, the game looks pretty good. Tequila looks pretty well refined but the baddies look just like in the movies...a whole bunch of forgettable faces trying to kill you. The scenery also looks great but you won't have time to enjoy it as you are too busy shooting it all up and after you cleared it you get to see what's around you. There is a lot of attention paid to some of the details. You start wondering if these guys are gonna catch lung cancer from all the well rendered cigarettes smoked, the alleys look like some of the most unsafe places this side of New York.

Soundwise, this game is gorgeous. The ambient sound from the city scenes will make you feel that this is a crapmed city. Babies crying, TVs being watched...yeah...you are there....when the guns go off they sound like they are all around you and when things blow?

Well let's just say, turn down your subwoofer if you feel your neighbors paying a late visit if you wake them up. This is one of the most ambient sound sets I have heard since Call of Duty 2 interms of gunplay.

To a point, I think maybe a brief tutorial could have been added to give players a chance to learn and practice some of the moves but on the other hand it's really hard to pull out some fo the moves used when it's hard to exactly get an idea where your enemies are going to appear.

Also, some may complain that the game may be too 'railish' as you can't go everywhere in some sections but think of how much of a good thing that may be...while you are concentrating on trying to pull off a hard combo, you have to worry about sliding off a pier into the water. On the other hand, you can jump off a lot of objects and don't have to worry too muich about dying...whether it takes away from the realism....it's up to you...but then one man going up against 10+ enemies all shooting at him and not dying is a tiny bit absurd too hmm?

To sum it up, if you want some mindless gunplay to tide you over til Halo 3, this is the game to play. This is the closest you can get to being in a Hong Kong flick without having to sign on stunt man. Try it as a rental first but if you really like it, buy it.

Now if we can just get a decent Die Hard game......

8 out of 10
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2007
You can see Stranglehold from two different perspectives. You can see it as a repetitive shooter that pits you against waves after waves of (cheap) enemies that suddenly appear from nowhere. Or, you can see it as a great homage to one of the great action movies of all-time, Hard Boiled. I choose the latter, and it was no wonder I had so much fun with it.

The story isn't important, since intense action featuring Chow Yun-Fat as Inspector Tequila is the order here. But if you must know, it involves some dead cop and the kidnapping of Tequila's ex-girlfriend and daughter. Reason enough for a massive surge of killing? You bet.

Playing through seven levels, you get to control Tequila and his array of skills (most have to be unlocked). Apart from the usual third-person shooting, you'll get abilities like the precision aim, which allows a first-person view, zoomed in, for a free-aim at whichever part of an enemy's body you see fit. Shooting at balls is highly recommended if you're sadistic. Like me.

Other skills like the barrage allows a moment of mad, unstoppable shooting and invulnerability. But the most dramatic skills of them is, you guess, the spin attack. Much like the 1,001 movies that Chow has made, this attack involves the guy turning 360 degrees while shooting two guns at various enemies surrounding him. Doves are complimentary. I guess the doves must be there to moan the death of all those goons that dare stay within your vicinity when you does this thing.

Using these skills are not free though. You need to earn the juice (ok, "tequila bombs") to use them, and using them reduces the juice. You earn it by performing stylish kills, helped by the fully destructible environments in the game. See a signboard above an enemy, shoot it, and it falls straight down to send the idiot to his maker. See a roll cart? Jump on top of it and start shooting people while moving around. See a gas tank near an enemy? Shoot it and enjoy the explosion takes care of matters. You can also combine these actions to score combos for more juices, so that you can use the above-mentioned skills more liberally.

There's also the matter of "tequila time", which basically happens when you perform kills while interacting with the environment (like, when rolling on a roll cart or sliding up and down on a banister). What happens is that time slows when tequila time is on, giving more time to shun bullets as well as kill morons. You can also activate this by simply diving around and pressing one of the shoulder buttons. It looks great, and it works well. In fact, it's probably a life-saver for most players trying to beat the more challenging levels.

On challenging levels, the game features four different difficulties. But even on casual, it becomes extremely painful to play through towards the end of the campaign. The enemy's AI is ridiculously aggressive, and you don't get to hide behind a wall like Gears of War for health recovery. Expect to die (many times) as you search for the best way to neutralize the threat. Things can tougher on the hard-boiled challenge (the most difficult mode) - a hit on you takes out 3/4 of your life! That's how it goes, and it isn't apologetic at all about it.

It should be apologetic, however, about the last-gen graphics though. It wasn't so glaring on my old SDTV when I first played the game. But recently, I bought a HDTV, and the flaws are pretty obvious. I mean, when an environment looks dull even on HD, you know it's bad. The character models also look dated, even though they manage to capture the movement of the models quite smoothly. Audios wise, it's just a bunch of explosions and some action music. Nothing of major note here, but it does what it was required.

All in all, Stranglehold is a fun shooter that recycles some old gameplay ideas (from Max Payne, I believe) rather successfully. The various attacking methods are fun to use, but the insane difficulty may scare some shooter noobs away. Engage with caution.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2007
I've never been a big Woo fan, and I've never seen Hard Boiled (though playing this game makes me want to). In any case, I've rented an onslaught of 360 games, all of which failed miserably at entertaining me. Am I just too picky of a player, or do these games just really stink? To name a few..Two Worlds (way too choppy), Star Trek Legacy (just too boring and confusing), The Outfit (boring and yes, choppy too), Blazing Angels, The History Channel Civil War...all of them complete wastes of time (imo). I rented Stranglehold thinking what the hell, I've rented so many garbage games, what's one more right? Well I admit, at first I wasn't THAT into it. Then you start to learn the controls a little bit, and start to actually gain skills..and it would even seem as though the environment is more destructable the further you go. Anyway, It's just great how you can dive, stay down after you dive, and waste like 10 guys laying on your back with two pistols out! I love it. And it took me awhile to figure it out, cause I thought it was one thing they left out and SHOULD have put in, but turns out it was already in there anyway; you can lean up against something and poke your head and gun out and blast. I mean you literally have complete control over your character. Anyway, I've rambled on much too far.. It's just a great game and if you give it a chance you'll be amazed (so long as you can get past the fact that your one character can kill a million baddies, a little unrealistic wouldn't you say?)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2007
I went into this game expecting a no nonsense, fast paced, action packed, arcade like 3rd person shooter.... and it was everything I expected. Midway and John Woo do not pretend or attempt to make this game anything else. The game in a nutshell has 7 levels (about an hour each for skilled gamers) filled with hordes of enemies, countless ammo at your disposal, and tequila time (bullet time) mixed in. At times you can also kill enemies using the enviornment (explosive canisters and overhead signs mostly. The sniper mode, barrage mode and spinning mode upgrades come in handy when the enemies get overwhealming (and they do at times). In an era where games are becomming more complex (I like these games too), sometimes its nice to play an adreneline filled game where its not required to think much. The games only down fall is that its over within 7-10 hours, however I plan on keeping this game on my shelf for when I just want to blow things up. If the short game play bothers you... rent it... its worth at least 7 hours of your time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
The game Stranglehold is a good game. Some may find the difficulty a little much, others may feel like they have been doing the same thing over and over again (slowing down time and watching an animation of you shooting a man in the face or crotch or wherever). It is a fun game in that it rewards you for how stylish you take out bad guys. The problem is you don't really have enough time to pull off the stylish stunt/shooting sequences. You can slow down time with "tequila time" but it does not work quite as well as in say max payne.

Story
pros: good voice acting, cheesy one liners, great cameras on cinematics.
cons: not a very interesting one

Graphics:
pros: environments look great, especially when shooting an object's supports to fall down onto an enemy(i.e. a neon sign)
cons: the character models look like an great ps2 game, but it is an early 360 title so...

Gameplay:
pros: slow motion sequences are a lot of fun when you do them correctly, you are rewarded for pulling these off with an increase in your tequila bomb gauge which you can use certain abilities like grenades.
cons: boss fights are just people in the game with more energy and a bigger weapon but they lack in the character department, many action sequences are not actual gameplay its often a cinematic.

for just around $10 its a perfect game to kill around 6-8 hours, there is not much replay value. The game gets pretty repetitive towards the end, this is the biggest reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Good: High production values makes you feel like you're in a movie, superb voice acting, Tequila's moves are awesome, blood galore!

The Bad: Shorter than short, unbalanced difficulty makes things extremely frustrating at times, boring and uninspired story, gets derivative about half way through

Stranglehold has so much going for it but it falls flat on it's face due to the fact that it provides so little. You really feel like you're in a high budget action movie full of 100% destructible environments and tons of stylish moves. You can run up railings, slide down them, back flip off walls, do Max Payne/Matrix dives, slow down time. You have a few cool abilities such as a sniper shot where you can precisely shoot an area on the enemy and enjoy the awesome animations. You have a Barrage power where you are invincible, can shoot 10 times faster, and have infinite ammo for a few seconds, and a spin attack which kills everyone in the room.

The graphics and audio is top notch and looks great and there isn't any slow down even with hundreds of things flying around the room. There are a bunch of interesting unlockables in here as well. The story is somewhat interesting but is really confusing and feels incomplete. Tequila is trying to get his family back from two rivaling gangs known as the Russian I-9s and the Chinese Dragon Claws. It's short, confusing, and kind of boring really. While all this is good and all the game is extremely short where you can finish it in less than 10 hours, and the game gets really repetitive after about half way through. Sure there are turret sequences and all that but it doesn't mix things up enough. The game is a blast while it lasts and is good for a fun rental but nothing more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2007
....can best describe Stranglehold. A third person shooter that looks and plays like a blockbuster asian themed action film. While the cutscenes at first are somewhat jaggy, they get better towards the 2nd 3rd levels. But really who cares about cutscenes, for me its about gameplay and Stranglehold is hitting the action dept. on all cylinders.Only tequila mode slows down the pace and you'll need to use it to stay alive. Luckily it automaticly refills so you'll be in constant use of it. The bullet trails are quite well done ,as you can dodge bullets (slow mo tequila time) in 'stand off' mode , its like wild west duel ONLY with 5-10 against you..simply awesome. And sniper tequila mode d-pad up aim fire and you follow the bullet like a bullet cam and wil get a unique cinematic kill or not if you missed ,which is unique every time, not the same cutscene over and over, Very cool. The graphics are quite nice and cinematicly done, not the best textures but still very very nicely drawn and detailed,lots of asian themed art, very visually stunning in some areas ,in short, a very pretty game. And you can destroy just about anything you shoot like stone carvings of chinese dragons 6+ feet high etc. Sometimes the action is so intense I have to take a break . While the constant shooting can get repetetive ..the tequila time and the acrobatic movement make up for the simple game mechanics, which is shoot everything and shoot it again. You'll slide across a counter while shooting,jump onto a push cart on your belly while shooting, hop up to a railing banister,slide down banister shooting, hop through a window shooting, kick over a table for cover while shooting,all in one continuous smooth motion. WOW simply stunning shooter gameplay. The controls are smooth and easy to master. The use of the LT is what causes you to do all those acrobatics..and tequila time (auto-enters) while aimimg at an enemy. Also you can manually turn it on with RB . Alternately in options menu you can turn off (auto-enter) tequila time while aiming at enemy, if you want complete manual control of tequila time. If your a fan of shooters ..or fan of Maxx Payne and Matrix games ... Stranglehold its simply awesome and much better IMO. Something to hold you over until HALO3 is out or if you need a change of pace from (equally awesome) Bioshock... Stranglehold's only (7) levels being the one negative thing, the levels are pretty big mostly linear , still Stranglehold is just so intense, what it lacks, it makes up for in fantastic shooter gameplay which it has in spades. Dont miss Stranglehold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2010
What you have here is an amazing game that never gets any fanfare. In stranglehold, you are tossed into the shoes of Chow yun Fat and then you use those shoes to kick all sorts of ass. Many games have tried to mimic John woo's style but none of them really bring you into his signature stylish gunplay quite like this. The action in this game is constant and designed in such a way that you rarely ever get a moment to settle down and that's the point.

So how is this game different than all the rest? Well, for one, you have tequila bombs which act like little power boosts when your meter fills up. You have one that's similar to a health pack, the second is precision aiming which follows the bullet right to the bad guys, barrage which is about twenty seconds of invulnerability, and the final ability lets you spin in a circle shooting everything in sight while doves soar above you. All of these powers are useful in different situations and are essential to finishing the game.

Oh, and that's not all. Most of the environment is interactive, you can slide down banisters and glide across tables while you blast everything in your path. Believe me, everything in this game is either destructable or useable and once you get the hang of the relativley simple controls, you'll swear this is the closest you've ever come to being in an action movie.

If you've never heard of this or you really want to get your adrenaline pumping, give this a shot. The cinematic shoot outs are awesome to behold and this thing is lying around in just about any bargain bin. My only complaint is that this game is pretty short and some of the graphics seem kinda plain, but don't let these qualms keep you from missing this trip through Tokyo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2008
This is the worst part of this game.
Get to know the meaning of claustrophobic. This game will take you there. Most of the time throughout the game there are either people or things right next to you and you can not see them all so you end up trying to go the wrong direction right into them. Also once you jump up on a highlighted item, which is difficult because it won't always highlight very easy, it is difficult to get off. The camera view distance keeps changing when something is close behind, and since as stated there are constantly things near you, it is maddening on ones equilibrium. You just spend your time wishing for more areas out in the open. It seems as though the programmer just wanted to drive you crazy insted of make a fun game.
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Game Story:
A cop with a past (Tequila) finds that a escalating gang war has connections to a family that he thought he lost forever. To save his wife and daughter he must cross the line from cop to viglante in a one man war that will take him from the back streets of china to a history musem in chicago to the walled mansion and manicured garden's of china's top gang lord.
------(The following is based on my experience and since I'm reflex challenged the ratings should be taken in that context.)
Graphics:B+
Mostly realistic looking, some characters do look like they game out of the uncanny valley. The Slow motion effects are great as tequila bounces around the screen with slow mo bullets flying by his head. Also stuff does blow up real good and most of the eviroments are destructible.
Controls:C / Camera:B
The character didn't always dodge that shotgun blast I wanted him to no matter how much I pulled the trigger or in other cases would dive in some random completley useless direction that gave me absolutley no aim and the enemies a nice targe practice dummy to fire on. The crouch and cover controls are a little dectection wonky in some spots as the character would seem to rather take about a hundred bullets than crouch behind the chest high wall that was in front of him. I didn't have much trouble in this game with the camera but in some places it did have issues usually when a enemy was shooting off screen and was difficult to find.
Game Story/Progression/Difficulty:
There wasn't much story to this game besides the back story that gives a reason for all the shooting and blowing up that goes on. About the same with the stages. Your there to put as many holes in the stage and anything that moves on the stage as you can and to do it as stylishly as possible. The one thing I will say about the difficulty is that it can be like shooting fish in a barrel one second and then the game will throw a few waves of "special" foes at you that require special skills or head shots to take out and these points are usually at the worst time (health low/ammo low) or in one case in a ball room where you have to keep a band alive so you can't shoot everthing that moves for fear of having to restart. Also I must mention the very annoying circle shoot that comes up ocassionaly. One it's annoying and breaks the flow of the game and two in the later ones I just stopped bothering to shoot and dodged until the game gave up and let me bounce off walls again. It was just to hard to dodge and try to shoot while being stuck in one place.
Overall:
This wasn't a bad game. If your looking for somthing that just lets you shoot anything that moves and makes pretty good use of slo-mo then this might be the game for you if you can look past its rough edges.
If there is a sequel:
Get rid of the annoying circles of death that introduce new stages/rooms. Instead use one of those usually annoying button sequences. In this case it could be used to control moves that would be to difficult for players to pull off normally and would really put the slo-mo acrobatics to good use. If the sequence was done right then it would put the player at an advantage (less enemies). If done wrong then the player would start off in a bad spot or be outgunned and have to fight his way out.
m.a.c
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