Previews

Hands-on: Stranglehold

We blow shit up in John Woo's fantastic Hong Kong killer thriller, plus eye-popping new screens inside!

We were already quite excited at the thought of Hong Kong movie legends John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat collaborating on a game but now, having played it, we need to lie down in a darkened room.

Coming from the team behind the marvellous Psi-Ops, it's a fast-paced Max Payne-style shooter with some absolutely monumental damage effects and a plethora of white doves - what with Woo himself handling story and style.

When you play, the damage and physics models firmly underlined - no surprises there, but at least a few examples of our adventures in Midway's two-tiered Hong Kong tea house demo level are perhaps required. We shot cushioned seating and feathers filled the air, fired bullets through shutters and watched light stream into the carnage. We even obliterated bottles and saw their contents cascade around us - even better, most of the time we were seeing all this stuff in slow-motion while in mid-air. Or 'Tequila Time' as Midway would have it. It's great, great fun.

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As you run around the level Tequila, Yun Fat's grizzled cop automatically leaps and slides over tables and low surfaces. Interaction - of the non-bullet variety - comes whenever something nearby is highlighted on-screen. See a bannister light up and you'll be able to run up it, or slide down if you're in a more elevated position. Hit the foot of the bannister and tap the interaction button meanwhile, and you'll be able to tie these moves together - perhaps landing on a conveniently placed trolley and continuing your stylish licks lying on its back while guiding it round the tea shop, piling bullets into bystanders.

With outside vehicular levels promised, a cameo from the venerable Mr Woo and the return of Tequila's shouty boss, it's hard to see Stranglehold disappointing the fans - not least when it's possible to waste excessive amounts of time just filling its remarkable environments with hot lead. It's fair to say that in its current state Stranglehold's enemies aren't too bright, but when they die in such beautiful balletic ways its hard to care.

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