Stranglehold Pre-E3 Hands-On

We grip a pair of pistols and manipulate time in the latest build of Midway and John Woo's HK-themed ode to Max Payne.

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Our latest look at Midway's Stranglehold takes us to a marketplace that, by its inclusion of tutorial segments and the generally easy pace of the action, looks like it will probably end up being the first level in the game, though the unfinished Xbox 360 version we saw was only a section of the entire game, so even that isn't set in stone.

This third-person action shooter attempts to capture the nonstop, graceful gunplay and stuntlike acrobatics that are commonly associated with John Woo's work, and in those terms, it's feeling pretty satisfying. The left trigger in the Xbox 360 version is used to dive in any direction, though it's also a context-sensitive control. If you're standing near a glowing object or surface, like the handrail on a staircase, Inspector Tequila will hop onto the rail and let you run right up it. The level also has plenty of carts, and running at these and diving causes you to dive onto the cart, which starts rolling forward. You can steer it a bit while you shoot at enemies.

If you ever watched a Chow Yun-Fat movie and wanted to kick as much ass as he does, this is probably your game.

Stranglehold is clearly taking a lot of inspiration from the Max Payne series, and as such, the game also makes a big deal out of slow-motion "bullet time" effects. Here, it's called tequila time. You can enter it at will, but the game also defaults to automatic use of your slow-motion power. If you dive sideways or slide down a handrail while aiming at an enemy, the game slows automatically, making it easy to line up shots and take out enemies. It's a bit different than Max Payne, though, as it slows down only when you're actively trying to line up a shot or pointing at an enemy. This makes more economical use of your slow motion, which is governed by an onscreen meter. The meter appears to refill fairly quickly, though, so running out of slow-motion time was never much of a problem during our stint with the game.

The game looks pretty good, and you can tell that a lot of work has gone into making sure that Chow Yun Fat's character model looks like the real deal. The game has a cover mechanic that lets you hide behind pillars, corners, and so on, and during these sequences, you get a good, up-close look at Inspector Tequila himself. Just like the real thing, he always seems to be wincing as he endlessly fires dual pistols, shotguns, and other weapons at his foes.

The moves here are reminiscent of those in Max Payne--which, ironically, were inspired by John Woo's movies in the first place.

You also get a good, up-close view of things during stand-offs. These sequences happen at specific moments in the game, where you end up getting surrounded by multiple gunmen. When this happens, everything gets slow and your movement control is limited to leaning left and right to avoid bullets. The right stick becomes a more focused aiming reticle, and you need to quickly take out each enemy while leaning to avoid their incoming bullets. It's an interesting canned sequence that handles this action-movie standby in a pretty cool way.

With Stranglehold due out in August, it won't be long now until we get to see how the whole game comes together. The action definitely feels just about right, so it's up to the story sequences and voice acting to see if it can form a cohesive, cool package.

Discussion

216 comments
BlakkSteel
BlakkSteel

DAMMIT!!!!!!! When are they gonna put this thing out already?!?!?!?!?? It's been pushed back for the PS3 'til 10/30/07!!!! WTF?!?!??!!!!! This is the hap-hazard of the multi-platform "next-gen" games being built on on the 360, instead of building it on EACH system, like it should be!!

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

iamok no waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay is bioshock ganna be better then strangle hold :D stranglehold is ganna be number1. bioshock is good just becoz u can shoot bee's out ur hands lol stranglehold all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

iamok
iamok

bigtimekiller7 i dont think you can compare this game to bioshock and if you did bioshock would win the contest. (on that i am shure) But i think stranglehold is looking really kickass though. :) Cant wait :)

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

LtBinkley john woo started slowmo not max pane! so i don't no why people are saying stranglehold copyed max pane and my m8 has the game i tryed it :p

LtBinkley
LtBinkley

bigtime...you're comparing stranglehold to a game that was released 6 years ago. That's the equivalent of saying fallout sucked compared to oblivion. Fallout was an amazing game of it's time, and it still holds it's value today, but technology's allowed us to do more, more immersive, easier storytelling devices, etc. I'm just curious why you're so diehard about a game before it came out. I understand being excited, maybe even anxious, but...chill. I mean, are you being paid by the publishers to try and push this? I also noticed on your profile that you say you love games. So, why are you putting down a rock solid classic? I know you don't have to like every game, but you continue to put down other games and the people who enjoy them, in favor of one, at the time of your comments, not yet released. Doesn't really make sense. But, whatever.

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

max pane is **** BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHHHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAAH!!!!! no way! is max pane better then stranglehold BWHAHAHAHHHAHAHAHAAHAHAH everything is better u can going in 2 slowmo 4 waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer then max pane and you can see ur face in stranglehold in max pane its just a little mark hahahhahha, max pane is just a little n00b 2 stranglehold this is 2 all the max pane fans when stranglehold cums out go by the game and will see wot game is better (stranglehold ) P.S max pane is a joke BWAHHAHAAHAHAHAA

Ratpads
Ratpads

cool but id prefer max payne 3 (if it were in the making, which it isnt)

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

Apollyon_xK_OSx Clearly not game of the year material, but super fun. NO WAY!!! THIS GAME IS NUMBER 1!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apollyon_xK_OSx
Apollyon_xK_OSx

Clearly not game of the year material, but super fun.

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

i think playing it live will be cool (shooting someone in the nuts LIVE!!!!)

jasonmasico
jasonmasico

I don't know what to think about the multiplayer.Singleplayer is really cool but the multiplayer?What u think?

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

me 2 i dont like wot they did with the due dates BUT!!! its still going to be the best game on 360 :), its way! better then bioshock

DeanCorleone
DeanCorleone

Strangle hold would have been in the stores today - that is Aug 28, 07... but over the weekend they decided to push it back to Sept 5th I believe? This is getting annoying with more and more games being pushed back - also they didn't even give a reason why. Everyone always says "Well they are going to make it more polished." I don't think I'm going to be picking up my copy of Strangle hold, already wasted one trip to the store to pick it up when it should have been out on its due date. Sorry to vent fellas, the demo of the game was nice, but this delay on the last note crap is retarded... I guess I'll go grab Mass Effect or something, unless that gets delayed also.

Sniper_Wolf25
Sniper_Wolf25

two worlds is perhaps the worst game ever made on the 360 and like gendaito said, there are plenty of enjoyable games that dont innovate the genre will this be the greatest game on the 360 ever? doubtful my money's on Mass Effect

gendaito
gendaito

Cesarblue, I would like to take to heart what youa re saying about mass Efeect, but frankly there is no possible way you could know that about Mass Effect, or any game for that matter, there is no guarantee that mass effect will affect anyone in any great way, look at all the truly innovative games that have been utterly brilliant but not very robust commercially, Psychonauts, Shadow of the Colossus, There ar emillions of others but i can't be bothered going thter right now, I don't believe the playstation 3 will die, it is Already garnering enough sales that they can continue production, it's even selling fairly well for people who want a Cheap Blu ray Player, no it isn't sky rocketing but it isn't horrific either, The Innovations you talk about, are purely Cosmetic, the way Expectations of games have been changed, Gears of War, a Brilliant shooter, nothing that hadn't been done years earlier just done with far superior Graphics thanks to the unreal engine 3, I don't believe two worlds will change anyones mind about anything, it looks lackluster, and unfinshed from the reviews and Demo's, Oblivion, again although brilliant, only truly innovated in Graphics, Some would argue that is the only Improvement it holds over Morrowind, So in this case is it not entirely viable to say that Stranglehold truly is Next gen because it is a Next gen game aestheticallyand looks to successfully improve upon a great Premise for fans of Flashy Shooters? Will it Win any writing awards probably not? will it have the greatest Atmosphere to be found in a Shooter this year? i wouldn't count on it, Will it be a Fun and Flashy over the top spiritual successor to max payne that was itself a spiritual successor to the Films of John woo? I'd say it has a damn good chance, And as far as the PS3 not being able to come back, have you Seen any Metal Gear solid 4 Trailers? That game will ship consoles, Count on it. Whomever says different or Agree's with me do what ever you like, i DO not need the Approval, - A Fan of Great Gaming

bigtimekiller7
bigtimekiller7

no way cesarblue,this is the best game i have played iv played the demo more then 7 times, it was so good the same day i played it i had to preorder it the same day!, all i have to say is play the demo and u will see what im talking about.

cesarblue
cesarblue

I just don't see this as a nextgen game, the reason why you say is because this is what maxpayne should've have been had the 360 been here 5yrs ago. so I say if you want to relieve maxpayne pick this game up, as you can see in the gameplay they basically rip everything from that game put in to this asian shell and called it strangehold, my prediction is that this game will not sell well because it's doesn't make any leaps and bounds too nextgen yea you can walk up stuff and can swing across things that doesn't make it nextgen sorry. Plus you got games like Bioshock, who have come out and change fps presepective, then you got two worlds that's going to take care of third action adventure ,, And My game that will Make History Mass Effect Yes that's right let me say it again Mass Effect will make history as the best game every Made for atleast 5yrs this game will change how we look at video games and what we expect out of are video games, Just like Gears of War change are perspective on Third person shooter (duck and covers) just like oblivion change are minds about Rpg, I think this is the death of ps3=neo-geo there is nothing they can come out with that's going to change minds like Mass Effect EveryBody that say's different or agree with me come join my blog at www.myspace.com/prophetschasinpaper let me know what you think

gingerwerewolf
gingerwerewolf

You say "We grip a pair of pistols and manipulate time in the latest build of Midway and John Woo's HK-themed ode to Max Payne" Erm isnt Max Payne just an ode to the origional John Woo films such as Hard Boiled? (ie what this game is a semi-sequel to) Anyway it looks utterly amazing and will be bought

chewygun
chewygun

the demo is rly good i may consider getting this game

chrixian
chrixian

I have played the demo about 5 times through and cannot wait for this game.

wotsit3
wotsit3

This year is class for games

wars45
wars45

i hop this his good has am a big fan of hard boiled and john woo love his old movies

atlas400
atlas400

preaty nice game da demo was tight

lil_d_mack_314
lil_d_mack_314

this game looks sick as hell, looks like this will hold me off until Max Payne 3 :p

Kbs64
Kbs64

This makes me want to get a 360!!!

LGAKAgregory
LGAKAgregory

played the demo omg lol shooting everywhere must buy!! wow

Xgouse
Xgouse

played it and loved it... Shooting the body as people stated before is real because of the UE3... You shoot a guy in the nuts and he's going to grab them and go down in pain... (of course I laughed) but he didnt... Then the Presicion Shoot... awesome Follow the bullet time and you get top graphic gore when it pops through the part of the body you shoot at... Then the whole bouncing around off of about everything you find around you is just freaking awesome... The most destructable environment that I've ever played i a game I'm talking Watermelons, peach crates, bottles, clothes... anything you shoot is basically going to go flying in the distance or get completely destroyed... Dont believe me DL it off XL and I bet your jaw will drop ... this is the most fun I've had in an Action Adventure in a while .... Def'ly on my to get list along with a lot of others... E3 rocked this years and MS got their cards right ... They keep promises unlike the Other Guy whats their name... ummm..... o yeah .... SONY.... laterz... dl well worth....

SPaM782
SPaM782

I was talking to a friend of mine over XBL and he mentioned that the demo was out and he was playing it at the time. He was getting rather excited and id seen one of the videos on here (Tequila vs Helicoper) and i thought it didnt look that great. I downloaded the demo and i was pleasently suprised. The demo certainly makes the game appear to be rather good. Unlike some games like Forza Motorsport 2 whose demo is appauling but the full game is awesome. I might purchase this when it comes out. Its my 19th a few days after its release so i might wait til then. Its shaping up quite well. I like the precision aim Tequila Bomb mode. I experimented with shooting bad guys in different places and all of the places i shot had their own animations to go with it. Ears, Forehead, Eye, a mans 'special' area, hand etc. So they have definately put alot of time into this.

eric7233
eric7233

The demo rocked .. I ignored this game thinking it would be just a run of the mill action slo-mo ability game .. I was wrong. They really went all out on this game .. it very intense and fun. Can't wait to play it.

kevy619
kevy619

"zouhou this game was first introduced in 2005 it was for the ps3 only but the decided to port it to the 360 the pd3 is not the port version also 360 has a collectors edition but it has bonus fetures an extra level and scenes from how they made the game ps3 has the movie hard boiled ps3 strangle hold will be a lot better then the 360 so baaaaaam!!!" lol, explain why the ps3 version is delayed then. How can an unfinished game be ported into a finished game before the original is even finished?

slayersdeath200
slayersdeath200

the demo on xbox live tis awesome gonna have to purchase it now :D

Hawwk616
Hawwk616

Jeff, Max Payne was an ode to John Woo.

jacob-goodlich
jacob-goodlich

i really dont know whether i will get this even though it seems really cool

surppo
surppo

cant wait to kill some of you mofo's in online multiplayer

ssj3-undertaker
ssj3-undertaker

this game looks and sound friggen awsome cant wait to get it

mingfu
mingfu

INTENSE GAME MUST HAVE!!!!!!

doommaster037
doommaster037

When is the Stranglehold demo coming out on XBOX LIVE??

Sony_FreaK
Sony_FreaK

Rush Hour .5 lol before Lee met Carter lol. Some crazzi Asian dude who can shoot, doge bullets lol describes him right. I am gunna buy this i can't wait to use that bullet thinggy in the game when they slow down it look so crazzi. I'm buyn this as soon as it comes out.

zouhou
zouhou

this game was first introduced in 2005 it was for the ps3 only but the decided to port it to the 360 the pd3 is not the port version also 360 has a collectors edition but it has bonus fetures an extra level and scenes from how they made the game ps3 has the movie hard boiled ps3 strangle hold will be a lot better then the 360 so baaaaaam!!!

mbler
mbler

John Woo, FTW!

chrisj
chrisj

sportwarrior ....i agree...if sony dosent get a grip....we will be seeing more and more generic games coz they are made to run on both systems,sony and microsoft need to go there separat ways to get the best out of there systems.

eredgar
eredgar

sportwarrior Also they make em for 360 and then port it because they know if the 360 can handle it, the ps3 should too. Might not always be the same visa versa.

ResiFreak
ResiFreak

This game looks sick!!! I can't wait to get it.

sportwarrior
sportwarrior

I am getting very tired of seeing nearly every game presented with a 360 build. Sony has GOT to assist developers in creating content for the PS3. As long as they find it difficult, we'll continue to see games designed on the 360 and ported to the PS3. As we've seen already, that's just not going to work.

zouhou
zouhou

9 th blog im so getting special edition cause if i bought the blue ray hard boiled and ps3 strangle hold it would be 145 dollars

Torontoman1
Torontoman1

this game is gonna kick ass, cant wait to get it