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Old 14-08-2009, 05:24 PM   #1
chainsoar
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Default Stranglehold (Xbox 360)

Ever wondered what would happen if an aging, desperate video game production company, an overrated movie director with no real ability but a massive special effects budget and a background in awful Chinese Kung-fu movies, and a bunch of Hollywood corporate dickheads got together and all had a circle jerk around the boardroom table? Well, wonder no more, because it happened, and instead of leaving it for the cleaners, these idiots have decided to name the resulting mess "Stranglehold" then slap "John Woo Presents" on top and market it as what some may laughably call a game.

From the opening of the very first cutscene, it becomes apparent that something is amiss in this horrendous production. Your first thought may be "these graphics are well below the abilities of the 360". Yes, they are. My personal candidate for 'Shittiest Attempt at a Hollywood Style Action Shot' is contained in this clip, when the camera zooms down the barrel of the gun and gives us a view of the bullet entering the chamber, followed by a poorly-rendered explosion, which, presumably, is supposed to make us all excited and shit. Trust me, it doesn't.

After some uninteresting and visually unappealing shots of a poor little rich family being brutally kidnapped by generic Chinese thugs, we find ourselves in a meeting involving several undercover police officers, with convincingly Chinese names such as Jeremy, and their boss. This is where we meet our 'hero', for want of a better word, a man with the wonderfully well thought out name of Detective Tequila. Yes, that really is his name. At a suitably dramatic moment, 'Tequila' turns to his boss and basically declares that he is a one man army who will righteously fuck up thousands of bad guys single-handedly, no matter what the boss says to convince him otherwise (you may sense a familiar pattern emerging here). After putting on his cool brown leather jacket and showing off his guns, 'Tequila' leaves the room, followed by the inevitable sound of his boss yelling his name down the corridor.

Right. Now that's over, let's hope the gameplay is better.

Oops. The in-game tutorial pop-ups sound exciting, with all their promises of 'Tequila-time' dives and an interactive environment, but you will almost immediately begin to realise that this game is going to annoy you. This generally happens at almost precisely the moment that you run near a table and Tequila decides to slide over it without your permission. Here's the fun part - he does that with any applicable object, every time, without fail, whether you want to or not. You are thrown immediately into a gunfight at which point you will attempt to pull off a few of Tequila's fancy tricks. You may begin to feel some hope at this point, and think to yourself "it'll probably get better when I master all these stunts". It won't. This is not a game where you master the tricks and become a stuntman gun hero bouncing off walls and dishing out tasty justice on a bullet-shaped dish like something out of the Matrix. What will instead happen is that you will find yourself repeating the same pointless jumps and dives a ridiculous number of times during each seemingly endless, poorly executed, and ultimately utterly worthless gunfight.

You got past that bit? Need a drink? Yeah, me too. After completing several of these unfulfilling wankfests, and having been duly informed about collecting some paper cranes that no one gives a damn about, you will face down the suspect. Now you get to enter stand-off mode. Oh, joy. This is essentially another badly designed slow-motion bullet fest, in which is demonstrated an aspect of the game that could, in another universe, be fun, only for it to be snatched away and it made apparent that it will only be available at specific times. You can use the right thumbstick to dodge your enemies' preposterously slow bullets and take all the time in the world to aim with the left stick and shoot them in the face, thereby winning an insanely easy fight. One major problem with this is that the camera is not flexible in this mode. You are forced to target one man at a time, in a predetermined order. Furthermore, once each man is killed, there is a painfully delayed second or two before the camera switches to the next target.

As all gamers know, any game with such major problems quite often has an accompanying list of minor irritations that stack up to make the whole thing worth avoiding. On this point, Stranglehold does not disappoint. Tequila runs like an idiot, the targeting system is awful, and the number of enemies and the constant pointless respawn are annoying as hell, despite the fact that most of them seem to die almost immediately from a single shot, no matter where it lands on their body.

I'm almost at a loss on how to conclude. I feel perhaps a list of profanities that you could copy, paste and email to Midway might be most fitting. Suffice to say, don't buy this game. You'll only encourage them.
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Old 14-08-2009, 05:58 PM   #2
arete
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Hmm. Definitely sounds absolutely utterly horrible. It's bound to make millions.
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Old 18-08-2009, 04:05 AM   #3
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nice review
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Old 23-08-2009, 05:12 AM   #4
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Hmm. Definitely sounds absolutely utterly horrible. It's bound to make millions.
John Woo's Stranglehold was, perhaps, the shittest game I ever purchased. AND it cost me a 5er and I traded in NFS: pro-street. (that wasn't great either, compared to the rest of the series)

I couldn't even give it away after the shop told me I couldn't return it "Because it was a pile of crap".

Blockbuster Facists.

So now it resides in a local charity shop, still waiting to be bought nearly a year later, selling at 99 pence.

Last edited by Saccade; 23-08-2009 at 05:13 AM. Reason: NFS:pro-street makes a smiley.
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