View Full Version : Stranglehold demo

08-09-2007, 08:50 PM
This is on Xbox Live right now, but I believe demos will be coming to the PSN and somewhere on PC as well. Long story short, I want this game now.


Quick history lesson: Stranglehold is the 'sequel' to the John Woo film 'Hard Boiled', starring Chow Yun Fat. Fat's likeness and voice are in this game as well, as the main character 'Tequila'. The PS3 special edition will actually come with the BluRay version of the Hard Boiled movie.

I played the demo this morning, and I have to say I enjoyed it. In fact I played through it three times. (I have a couple of tips at the bottom of the post.) I'm typing this from my memory, so some of the names of things I mention may be incorrect. I noticed some slight issues in the gameplay, but it has the feeling of just being fun. One of the cool things I noticed (after all the Matrix/Max Payne-like slow motion "Tequila Time") is that you can pretty much break anything that isn't a wall, door or floor. Breaking stuff is fun! There are various environmental devices you can use to take out enemies, though it usually boils down to 'blow up the propane tank' or 'shoot the thing to make it fall'. At least as far as the demo goes.

You can interact with most things in the environment by using the L trigger. If nothing is in front of you, you'll just dive. If you're running at a rail, you'll jump on the rail and slide on it (if it's pointing down) or you can run around on it. If you run at a wall, you'll jump onto it and then spring off it. All of these will trigger the Tequila Time if there are enemies around.

The 'Tequila Time' is a major part of the game. Whenever you are pulling off a 'stylish move', (i.e. anything other than 'walking'), you enter this slow-motion mode automatically when aiming at an enemy. This is key for getting Style Points (or something) which is key to filling up your Tequila Bomb gauge. The more style points you accrue in combos (usually by killing people), the more your Bomb gauge will fill.

And you do want your Tequila Bomb gauge to fill, as it provides you with some of the most spectacular and useful abilities in the demo (and I'd imagine the whole game). There are 4 'bombs', all mapped to the directions of the D-pad. You can unlock them all by playing through the demo multiple times, but the first time you play the demo you have the 'Health Boost' and the 'Precision Shot'. Both are pretty self-explanatory, but the precision shot does the 'follow-the-bullet-to-the-target' thing. If you hit someone, it focuses on them reacting to the shot for a few seconds before you get back to the action. The two other unlockable ones are a sort of 'Berserker' mode where you can shoot like crazy while not using any ammo, and a 'spin attack' where you can kill everyone in the room in one cinematic event.

Another nifty gameplay element is how they handle the Mexican Standoff (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_standoff) (basically a bunch of guys all pointing guns at each other). You take on each of the opposition one by one in Tequila Time. You can see where they are going to shoot and you can lean out of the way appropriately (or you can lean one way to bait them to shoot that way), and if someone is behind you there's a chance they'll kill that person if you set it up right. While doing this, you're aiming your shot yourself. When you kill one, you move on to the next. It's nothing particularly earth-shattering, but it's a great way to add some variety to the gameplay.

I mentioned having a minor gripe with the gameplay, and that's with how Tequila moves. In addition to the 'stylish moves' triggered by the L trigger, Tequila will automatically hop or slide over any solid thing that is about waist-height. This is actually pretty smooth, and I like it quite a bit. It's just that occasionally it happens when I'm running around in the middle of a gunfight, and if it's something like a long table that i'm sliding over, I'm a sitting duck for the 2 or 3 seconds it takes to traverse the tables on my Yun Fat tush. Usually when you slide over stuff with enemies around, you automatically use Tequila Time to slow things down. More often than not however, I've already used up my Tequila Time gauge (it does run out, but recharges) in the gunfight so I'm sliding across the long table in Real Time, unable to aim quick enough to stop the onslaught of ammunition. Less of a problem on the lower/normal difficulties, but on Harder modes the enemies are more accurate and you can die faster. It's very minor and doesn't really detract from the enjoyment, but it did take me out of 'Butt Kick God' mode for the few seconds I was being filled with virtual lead.

As a gamer who owns all of the 'active' systems, the rest of the year is just overflowing with good games to buy and Stranglehold was but a faint blip on my radar. After the demo though, it's definitely on my 'Worthy Buy' list. I was leaning towards the PS3 version of the game that comes with the 'Hard Boiled' movie in HD, but there's no word on when that version is coming yet. Stranglehold comes out on August 24th for Xbox 360 and PC in the US.

Demo Tip in the
Aside from the twin pistols and the shotgun, you can find a Golden Pistol in the demo as well. There's one part of the demo (the area where you have to shoot the telephone pole to progress over a fence) where you can run up another pole. You're on the right pole if you see a paper crane along the way.
Go all the way around and you'll eventually see the prompt, 'hold X to pick up' the Golden Gun. And there you go.

You can only hold 2 weapons though, and the Golden Gun seems to have limited ammo (since you can't reload from other people's guns... they don't have it!).

If you beat the demo multiple times, you unlock harder difficulties and 2 more 'Tequila Bombs'. Cool stuff.