The integration of Hollywood and the videogame industry continues with Stranglehold, which is basically a sequel to the John Woo movie Hard Boiled. Chow Yun-Fat reprises his role as Inspector Tequila, a no-nonsense Hong Kong cop in the mold of Dirty Harry. A notorious gang has kidnapped a fellow officer, and Tequila volunteers to accept their offer to negotiate his release even though he knows it is an obvious setup. When the kidnapped cop turns up dead, Tequila’s search to bring his killers to justice leads to a bloody romp through the double-dealing, double-crossing world of Hong Kong’s vicious crime gangs.
Stranglehold would not be able to call itself a sequel to Hard Boiled if it didn’t deliver the same sort of over-the-top action and violence of a John Woo picture. And that it does. The body count in this game is staggering and practically begs for a Scarface style bullet or body counter. Enemies assault you by the dozen and all of them are very well-armed. While the odds may seem to be stacked decidedly against our poor Detective Tequila, he is not without his arsenal of special talents to help him lay down the law. First of all he is incredibly acrobatic. Not only can you dive and roll with reckless abandon in the game, you can make use of your environment to get the drop on your adversaries. Whenever you approach an interactive object such as a rail, zipline, or hand cart it will briefly flash white. When you see this flash L1 will cause Tequila to interact with that object, whether it be sliding down a handrail or tiptoeing along the top of a banister. There are also plenty of interactions that are automatic – for example, run about to a countertop and you’ll slide across. And of course you can keep shooting while you’re pulling off all of these moves and there’s certainly some fun to be had taking out a room full of gangsters while rolling across the floor on a handcart.
Not all interactive objects in the environments are there for acrobatics. You’ll come across poles, window A/C units, and signs that flash with a little white gleam. When you shoot these objects they will set off a sequence that inevitably leads to the deaths of several gang members. There is a certain satisfaction to watching the sequence of events kicked off by a falling neon sign eventually take out a cluster of enemies, and some of the chain reactions can’t help but elicit thoughts of Rube Goldberg.