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May 19 2007
John Woo's Stranglehold - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
29/11/2007Red AntMidwayMidway
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation

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Chow Yun-Fat looks wonderful in Stranglehold.
If you're a John Woo fan then you would be well aware of his 1992 movie Hard Boiled starring Chow Yun-Fat. It's widely regarded as one of the best action movies of all time (With an average score of 7.8/10 on IMDB) and is a must see for action fans. Fifteen years a later and a 'spiritual sequel' is in the works as a videogame being developed at Midway. Although originally scheduled to be released in late 2006 to coincide with the PS3 launch in America, the developers delayed the title by almost a year to ensure that it is is worthy of the license. It certainly appears this delay is paying big dividends when it comes to the overall quality of the game.

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Battle in the Chicago Museum.
John Woo's Stranglehold sees Chow Yun-Fat reprising his signature role as Inspector Tequila, pitting gamers as a take no-prisoners cop waging a personal war with Hong Kong crime lords. Tequila’s loyalties to the force are tested when his ex-wife is kidnapped by the Russian mob in Chicago. Tequila struggles to balance his duty to uphold the law with doing what it takes to save his family. What this all amounts too is one kick-ass game with plenty of action from start to finish.

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There's a tonne of cool moves in the game.
Stranglehold is a third person action adventure game that takes place in both Chicago and Hong Kong - but it's a game with more flare and style then almost any other before it. One thing that John Woo does brilliantly in his movies is provide over the top action sequences and this game is just as impressive. Gamers will experience smooth flowing gameplay, such as running up railings, swinging on chandeliers and leaping onto moving objects, all without interrupting intense gun battles. Each of the levels is filled with dozens of enemies ready to be shot and killed. Not only are the enemies quite prone to bullets, but many of the objects, and much of the buildings themselves are destructable. Chunks of mortar will break off walls, tables can be upturned and moved - it's all possible.

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Two of Four take on one bad-ass enemy!
So what has John Woo contributed to the game precisely? Well Stranglehold benefits from Woo’s direction on storyline, camera placement and cutscenes. In addition the game uses what is dubbed 'Tequila Time' - essential a slow motion that allows players to simultaneously aim and shoot at the current target while driving, providing for robust gunplay combat between vehicles.

In terms of the game engine the developers have used a highly modified version of the Unreal 3.0 engine integrated with the Havok physics system. It all appears to run pretty well with particles and debris flying all over the place during gunfights. Detail in the game world, and also on the characters, is impressive.

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Using the shield.
If you live in America you're also going to be in luck as Midway are going to release a special "Collectors Edition" of the game which, as an added bonus, will include a copy of the movie Hard Boiled, on the Blu-Ray disc. While we can't attest to the quality of the movie compared to dedicated Blu-Ray releases for an extra $US10 that's a magnificent bonus and one which I would have desperately loved to see available in Europe and Australia as well - sadly Red Ant have confirmed it will not be a part of the Australian release. What is known is that the movie will include both English Dubbing as well as the original Cantonese soundtrack.

John Woo's Stranglehold is set to be one of the blockbuster games this year. With a known actor, director and franchise and a talented development team with a powerful game engine everything just seems to be coming together perfectly. This looks like being one hardcore kick-ass game on November 29th. Mark it in your diary.