Stranglehold

Tuesday 16 May 2006
We've just had a brief play of the Xbox 360 version of the John Woo-inspired action-shooter Stranglehold - and it certainly isn't lacking on the frenzied gun histrionics front. The area we played through makes up around 8% of the Tea House section, one of the game's eight levels, which also include a mob boss's Chicago penthouse and Hong Kong slums.

Our goal was simple: blast through dozens of goons inside the restaurant until an old-school end-of-level boss - replete with rocket launcher - is unleashed. In the process, you have access to a slew of cool-looking, Woo-tastic manoeuvres. Particular favourites include mowing down hordes of villains while swinging from chandeliers, running up banisters or hurtling along atop a tea trolley.

Of course, no self-respecting third-person shooter is complete without its own slow motion function, which works to superb effect here - especially if you're in the middle of a seemingly suicidal dive across the room while wielding twin pistols.

Players are also rewarded with style points, based on how elegantly you despatch of enemies. Rack up enough credit and you'll be able to execute a variety of special moves, although the only one we were privy to involved your character performing a series of spectacular 360 degree spins during which he clears the entire surrounding area with a hail of bullets.

Based on this early showing, Stranglehold is accessible, stylish and entertaining. Let's just hope there's enough in the way of depth and diversity to sustain the furious gunplay across an entire game.