Some games go out of their way to try and push the envelope of gaming - either technologically or as a form of art - and some just use the available technology and mould it to fit their goal of providing a package of mindless fun. Stranglehold is firmly standing in the latter camp, where content and fun drives the development and the technical details are secondary to the game. What you get is a tight package of M 2174 -rated, over-the-top gun play without any pretences for a deep and involving storyline - and there is nothing wrong with that.
The circle is now complete
Stranglehold is a third person shooter with more than slight similarities to the superb Max Payne series by Remedy Entertainment. Some have already commented how Stranglehold "liberally borrows" elements of gameplay from Mr. Payne's bag of tricks, but it should be noted that the full title of Stranglehold actually is "John Woo Presents Stranglehold", and a major inspiration for the gun ballet of Max Payne was, of course, John Woo and his films. You could say the circle is now complete - John Woo's Stranglehold taking inspiration from Max Payne, which in turn was inspired by, among other things, Replacement Killers - produced by John Woo. And today, almost ten years later, Woo is still the master of his genre.
John Woo actually did far more than just borrow his name and characters for a game - he personally owns the development studio responsible for Stranglehold, Tiger Hill Entertainment, and had a firm hand in producing the game; he aided in developing the storyline and actually directing the motion capture work for the game and the pre-animated scenes set in between the player-directed mayhem.
Story-wise, Stranglehold is a sequel to Hard Boiled - the plot revs up as someone is killing cops in Hong Kong, and Inspector Tequila sets out on the case. After a trashed marketplace and drug laboratory "cleanup" by Tequila, all done in his usual non-subtle way with piles of dead bodies everywhere, the plot gets twisted by the kidnapping of the daughter and granddaughter of one of the Hong Kong's crime bosses. Tequila is very much personally tied to the events as he was involved with the very same daughter ten years earlier, and the granddaughters' father is none other than Inspector Tequila. Cue complex family drama (with yet more guns) as Tequila sets out to chase the Russian mobsters who hold the girls hostage.
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