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"John Woo Presents: Stranglehold"

9/12/07

Even if it's a shorter, less-weapon-filled version of "Max Payne", "John Woo Presents: Stranglehold" is still a balls-to-the-wall action game, backed by the Woo signature style of slow-motion killing matched with the coolest action hero in history, Chow Yun-Fat, here reprising the movie role he played in "Hard Boiled", maybe Woo's best movie ever.

The game gets quite repetitive even after just a couple of levels, of which there are only seven in this game.  As Inspector Tequila, you control the Yun-Fat character as you run from place to place, killing everyone (there aren't even side characters that you can chat with; everyone needs to die) and utilizing Tequila Bombs, side bonuses that enhance your already-ridiculous abilities to take precision shots from a mile away, heal yourself or unleash hell with your current weapon for about ten seconds without running out of ammo.  Of course, in a game where you don't even have to reload, ammo isn't your problem...the sheer number of bad guys looking to kill you IS the problem, as the game gets very hard very fast after you've gotten through about one-and-a-half of the levels.

Controls are tight, but so is the camera; you won't like your view a lot of the time, and this is a problem as this is a third-person action game that relies heavily on your ability to put your crosshairs over bad guys that come at you from all angles.  There are many ridiculous signature moments where you can slide down banisters or hang from chandeliers while shooting bad guys, all in slow motion; you can also basically destroy entire rooms with gunfire, which never gets old even as you start dying in bunches.  As mentioned earlier, "Stranglehold" could benefit from a better variety of weapons; there seem to be only about six, which is about 15 too few for a game where all you do is shoot all game long.  That's the main place where "Stranglehold" and "Max Payne" don't align; in "Payne", you had not only a large array of handguns and machine guns, you had like three different kinds of shotguns, assault rifles, three different kinds of grenades, a couple of sniper rifles, and more.

But, that was then, and "Stranglehold" is now; it's a fun game for a few hours, and as a rental, you could knock out the whole game in a weekend.  Wait for the price to come down then knock this mutha out!

Rating:  $40

 

Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?  justin@bellviewmovies.com

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either half.com or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09