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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Midway Games
Developed by: Midway Amusement Games
Genre: Third-Person Action
Players: 1 (1-6 Online)
Rated: M (Mature)
Release Date: October 29, 2007
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Its not everyday you get a videogame acting as a sequel to a movie, which is the case with Stranglehold for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles. The original project, the movie Hard Boiled, featured a super-cop by the name of Inspector Tequila dishing out some of the most action-packed sequences of 1992. With Stranglehold, it marks return of Inspector Tequila (played by Chow Yun Fat) to the action scene looking to take names and whoop some ass. So the question that you must ask yourself, can you handle a cop that takes nothing from no one.

Once you fire up the game, you are thrusted into the thick of things. You come across a missing policeman's dead corpse and you set out to find out who did this and make them pay. There is not much to the story due to the fact the focus of the game is on the gameplay mechanics, which isn't a bad thing because most action films don't have much story to them, unless your name is Jackie Chan. So with that in mind, lets get to discussing the title at hand.

Roaming through the backstreets and underground lairs of the criminal element in Hong Kong, you will notice the pleasant sight of no innocent bystander standing around, possibly getting in the way. Midway made sure that when Inspector Tequila lets loose, there's no holding back. Gamers can expect to let loose on the criminal element without any remorse whatsoever. Knowing this, the destructive element of the surrounding environments are high and the true star of this show. You will often spend time observing the destruction you are causing to building, signs, food stands, people, etc., which is a nice change from the norm. The detail is so high, each bullet fired, leaves a visual trail of it cutting through the air. There are even instances where a bullet shot at a wall will cause pieces of plaster to break off the wall, causing anyone near it to react accordingly.

While some may see this mass destruction as a bad move for Midway, it actually helps to keep the gameplay flowing smoothly from one sequence to the next. It forces a place to constantly stick and move from one coverage place to another, while eliminating opponents. For this to work, solid set controls are required, which are present within the PS3 build. Inspector Tequila utilizes the auto-slide feature to the fullest extent possible. Any table, box, or railing can be slid across, thus evoking the slow-motion ability, allowing you to target specific body parts for style points. The more style points that are accumulated, the faster his Tequila bomb meter fills up, allowing him to utilize one of four abilities (regain health, long-range slo-mo precision shot, a temporary god mode, or a visually impressive dove-releasing spin attack which elements every scumbag within range).

I would have to say the only downside to this game is the sense of repetitiveness scene within the game. There are a few instances where you are doing something different (deploying guitars cases stocked piled with supplies) beyond running through areas with guns blazing. In several of the action sequences, a lot of the thugs seem to be look-a-likes to one another, which for a very bleak outlook on the incorporation of distinct character models.

But while the repetitiveness may annoy some, there are three defining factors that keeps the attention of gamers focused on the TV screen. One being the gameís pacing. As you progress through the game, you are introduced to new weapons, areas, and abilities, which keeps the action entertaining and fresh. Also the fact that the difficultly level slowly increasing, keeping the action fierce and challenging at times. Another reason is due to is the inclusion of Hard Boiled, John Woo's 1992 Hong Kong action classic, which put him on the map as a true artist of the movie world. This pioneering film and action-packed game are bundled together onto on Blu-ray disc.

Finally, the last reason why gamers would be interested within the game is because of the intuitive combat system. As you progress through the game, you might find yourself dying a few times due to not being to avoid gun fire while hiding behind a wall or pillar, but the fact of the matter is that this doesn't really matter. This game offers up the freedom of gaming style. You are more Metal Gear Solid and hide and dodge enemy fire by hiding behind pillars, or you can be more like Ninja Gaiden and go head-to-head with your foes.

In the visual department, Stranglehold doesnít take full advantage of what the console can do, but then again, itís better than a lot of other PS3 titles released. The game boasts some sharp visuals, which make the backdrops come to life in creative ways. The entire roster of character models boast a decent amount of polygons, though more time could have been spent fully developing the character models better. Speaking on the same note, detective Tequila looks exactly like Chow Yun Fat, which helps the game tie into the movie Hard Boiled. Couple this with the high-end special effects, Midway has one very pleasing title on the eyes.

In regards to the gameís musical soundtrack, itís very cinematic and intense, lending itself very well to specific settings of the game. When you compare this to the sound effects and the voice acting, this is the best part of the audio sequences. The sounds of the special effects donít match up very well with their visual counterparts. In regards to the voice acting, it could have been a whole lot better, but considering all the characters where Chinese, it works out rather well. At least I can say, for a video game character, Chow Yun Fat put on one hell of a performance.

If you are pretty good at shooting games, you probably can breeze through this game in 9 hours or less, which for some isnít enough to justify spending $60 on a game, so the inclusion of a online structure is necessary. While Stranglehold has an online multiplayer mode, itís very lacking in the since you only have two modes, deathmatch and team deathmatch. The action takes place across several environments seen within the game. Judging from the overall look and feel of this, it was a last minute addition to the game. But for those looking for an insane battle, look no further than the multiplayer mode within Stranglehold.

Though this game isnít the premier shooter like Call of Duty, it still provides immersive worlds and a great test of John Wooís world. Since action movies arenít about substance, but the action itself, this game fits perfectly as a true sequel to the 1992 cult classic. Those gamers looking for something different from the norm, this is your chance to find out why this game has gotten so much media coverage and why John Woo is one of the worldís premier action director/choreographers.


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