Stranglehold takes place in both Chicago and Hong Kong, offering shootouts inside restaurants, marketplaces, and swanky multi-level penthouses. But while Midway's taking a lot of time to build a realistic and tactile world, the programmers are spending even more time tearing it down with a trademarked system called Massive D. The D stands for destructibility, because all those bullets you fire have to land somewhere - and when they do, something's going to shatter. Crouch behind a column for protection and incoming shots will chip away at your cover until there's truly nowhere left to hide. Blast away at bad guys in the Hong Kong marketplace and you'll see carts of fresh fruit explode into splinters. Best of all, if you survive your gun battles, the remnants remain; you'll be able to walk through the war zone and inspect every last piece of debris. Be thankful they don't send you a bill.

The idea of swinging from chandeliers, running up staircase railings, and flipping around like a violent ballerina sounds great, but it sounds even better online. Exactly how that will happen, Midway's not saying. But loads of players pulling off all that Woo slo-mo schtick over the internet will be an interesting challenge. But it's on the agenda.

Then again, we won't have to wait too long to find out, as Stranglehold is set for a late 2006 release. “This game gives everybody the ability to make a John Woo film,” says Woo himself. We don't want to make Stranglehold; we just want to play it.

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