Stranglehold, Xbox 360 – First Impressions

Reviewing games can be a hard business. You need to really thrash a game hard from start to finish in order to be able to write a good review. When the game is not that good this job becomes very hard indeed.

I have very little patience with games. It means that if a game bugs the hell out of me I’ll just stop playing it. It’s not that Stranglehold really irritated me but, for the most part, it didn’t do anything new or interesting.

Stranglehold is a sequel to John Woo’s cult classic film Hard Boiled. It follows the further exploits of Detective Tequila using a third person perspective and bullet-time mechanics.  The game plays identically to Max Payne 2 actually and this is where it falls down. Max Payne 2 was a great game, but the only improvement that Stranglehold has made over it is the graphics. There’s a nice little addition of special abilities called Tequila Bombs which can boost your health or killing power with unstoppable barrages of precision shooting but it doesn’t hide the fact that this is just a game from the previous generation dressed in very attractive next-gen clothing.

The story is a typical rogue-cop revenge story which sees Tequila shooting a bloody swathe through the Hong Kong underworld. As you’d expect from John Woo there is a surplus of doves fluttering around and plenty of action to be had. It just all feels a bit samey and passe after the third level. There is a particularly annoying helicopter/ machinegun sequence reminiscent of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. It just goes on far too long and the pilot’s banter is just awful.

This is really a first impression because I haven’t completed the game yet. This is because it just isn’t compelling enough. Neither the action nor the storyline have that necessary addictive quality that makes you just plain need to complete that next level. There’s no thirst there.

It’s a very pretty game and it is playable but that’s as far as I’d go. If you want purely addictive gun-toting action I’d advise that you look elsewhere.

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