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Videogame makers have been ripping off John Woo for years. A longtime master of Hong Kong action films, the accomplished director's distinct style has been imitated in dozens of games. And Midway is helping Woo "take it back" with Stranglehold. The spiritual successor to the 1992 film Hard Boiled (directed by Woo and starring Chow Yun-Fat), Stranglehold is an attempt to faithfully recreate Woo's style in an interactive medium. The brief portions of the game we were able to play left us impressed with the game's tech and viscerally satisfied with its action.
Stranglehold continues the ridiculous adventures of Inspector "Tequila" Yuen. This Hong Kong detective was pulling off Max Payne -style action when Max Payne was a digital zygote. Chow Yun-Fat was digitally scanned, and he provided voice work for Inspector Tequila's upcoming adventure. Which is quite fortunate since it's doubtful he could pull off the stunts and gunfights he did 15 years ago. Adding even more authenticity, Woo is providing the storyline for the game, advising on camera placement, and directing cutscenes.
Midway Chicago, the team behind the woefully underappreciated Psi Ops, adds traditional game design and impressive physics effects to the mix. This makes for highly interactive environments where Tequila can interact with or destroy pretty much everything he sees. Considering that he fires at an average rate of 400 rounds per second (without reloading), it's pretty awesome wasting obscene amounts of ordnance. Obliterating an enemy's cover before finally dispatching him is particularly delightful.
We were able to play a few portions that took place in Chicago's Field Museum of Naturally History. As expected, the action was fast paced and preposterous. In addition to firing enough bullets to fill Lake Michigan, we enjoyed using the environment's objects in our gunfights. Midway was proud to boast that everything in the game could be destroyed and we were proud to discover that they weren't lying. We saw. We shot. We destroyed… lots of rare and valuable artifacts in the museum. Of course we tested out the interactivity of the level as well. Surfing down rails as you dole out death and deftly sliding over tables to avoid fire was lots of fun, but not nearly as much fun as riding the numerous dim sum carts scattered around the level.