Stranglehold (PS3) Review

By BlueZeroBlueZero

Background: I haven’t seen the movie and I was impressed with the trailers Midway released showing a very destructible environment. I eventually played Stranglehold on my friend’s PS3 when I came over to visit him sporadically and beat it early this year. The game lends itself to being played in chunks and is not a game that you would want to finish in one sitting. I beat the game on normal difficulty collecting a marginal amount of origami cranes and finishing the game with an overall rank of E. Let’s just say that the E doesn’t stand for excellent.


Lots of gun pointing in this game

Story: Ok, here is the story from how I see it. Inspector Tequila is either a superior man or a killing machine. He could also be both.

If he is a man, he has a very high pain threshold or he is able to shrug off multiple bullet wounds with his secret pocket flash of tequila. Blood stains on his jacket make Tequila look like he is a human pincushion at the end of the missions. A man/machine named Tequila greases his gears with tequila to keep him from realizing his mission would normally be suicide. His constant alcohol high somehow gives him above superior reflexes to dodge bullets. It also gives him the ability to do his signature duels where there are 20 bad guys all pointing guns at him and he is able to “lean” to dodge bullets. Any ordinary man holding a gun would surrender when surrounded. Tequila laughs at being shot and effectively is never hit during cutscenes.

The paper cranes in the environment are filled with an even more potent form of tequila that lets him recover health, snipe people with a pistol, defy the laws of physics and create ammunition from a single clip, and finally clear a room with his mystical dove spin.


My name is Reggie. I'm about kickin' ass, I'm about takin' names.

The real story is that his woman is stolen by the Chinese mafia I think. His police chief boss underestimates Tequila’s invulnerability and forbids him from going after the mob. Tequila, who brings backup (his dual pistols) investigates anyway as he should since a police officer is killed. The story is very boring and you have to make it your own. For example, one of the characters (Yung Gi) looks like Reggie Fils-Aime (the Nintendo spokesperson) and I was always yelling out how the character should “take names” and “kick ass”. Apparently Yung Gi likes to steal and is involved in criminal activities. I like to think this is Midway’s interpretation of Nintendo’s spokesperson even though it is not intentional.

Regardless, the story is not very interesting and I had no real connection with any of the women in the game because they are there so briefly. It’s really sad that there are no female enemies and it is just man after man coming at Tequila. A lot of people die in the game and this includes major characters so the story is not at the forefront of game design. Anyway, people want Tequila dead because he is causing a shortage of alcohol and Tequila wants people dead because endless enemies and boring characters bore him.


Tequila is too drunk to realize that he is shooting the wrong targets

Graphics: The graphics are subpar for the hardware. This game could have been made for the original Xbox with few limitations. The main draw for graphics is the sheer number of destructible environments. I am all for destructible environments. If I shoot at a wall, I better see chunks and wholes in my wake. Luckily, the destructible environments are quite good and it doesn’t lag the system too much when there are bits and pieces flying all over.

Character models are weak. A lot of the characters look like they have plastic faces. “Reggie” is probably one of the better character face models and the graphical fidelity wanes as you look at other parts of the character.

Physics related gameplay has Tequila punching people with his fists and the enemy flying a little too far away. Shooting hanging objects in the earlier levels is effective to dispatch enemies but it gets less used in the later levels. At least shotguns, rocket launchers and the “golden guns” are powerful and are somewhat realistic.

Midway did not pump impressive visuals out of the Unreal 3 Engine because at the time no one was really making good use of it. I guess Rainbow Six made ok use of it, but really at this time it was a new engine and studios couldn’t make it work well. Compared with games now, these graphics are last generation but they were on par for the time period.

I do like how Tequila’s clothes and face takes damage from bullets. He gets scars and his jacket slowly turns red. I assume that between levels he goes to a plastic surgeon to get reconstructive surgery because he looks like new for the next level.

Whoever designed the cigarette smoke in this game needs to learn how to make good smoke.

Sound: The sound is pretty good for the game. Chow Yon-Fat does an excellent job with his dialogue and the writers gave him some funny things to say. The other voice actors are pretty generic except for my favorite Yung Gi who was the only voice that kept me interested in the story. I just overhyped his character to my friend to


"I brought my two friends"

Gameplay: You make your own fun in this game. I don’t suggest you play at higher difficulties since the levels are too long as it is and checkpoints are not plentiful. The average level takes an hour to complete because of the level length and the amount of enemies you have to deal with. Boss fights take too long and are mostly bland. Some bosses are very unfair and I had to spam my infinite ammo power a lot to take them down.

My most enjoyable moment in the game occurred when I was in the early level bar stage against a rocket launcher boss. I get knocked down by an enemy and as Tequila is getting up, the incoming rocket passes right between Tequila and the floor. It was so stylish and was not scripted that I was impressed.

The other best moments came from me smack talking the bosses and characters. I didn’t know that mob bosses could absorb thousands of bullets before they died. We all learn something new everyday.

I haven’t yet talked about the “Tequila Time”. It is the same as all the other slow-mo powers out there. You can use Tequila Time along with Tequila Style to get a lot of stars. These stars are then converted into the Tequila power meter. Doing stylish things like killing enemies while sliding, jumping, ect. helps increase your power meter too. You want the meter to fill up enough to use the infinite ammo power as it is the best from my hours of playtime.

Weapons: I got the most enjoyment out of this game from using the “sniper” power to aim bullets at different body parts. The best instance was when I shot the person in the leg, and they grasped their hand in pain. Using the sniper and health powers are not worth it and you should really save up for the infinite ammo. Pair the infinite ammo with a good gun (infinite rocket launchers are not the best, it’s all about infinite golden gun and the later machine gun) and you are invincible will clear more enemies than the room clearing “dove” power.

The best weapons are the golden guns, heavy machine gun, shotgun, and rocket launcher. The SMG is very weak and I don’t remember any other weapons off the top of my head.

Multiplayer: It is dead. That is all. There are absolutely no people playing it and there probably hasn’t been a live server in months. It is quite impossible to play multiplayer and there is NO reason to ever purchase the multiplayer maps or unlock MP skins. Sure I have enough game points to buy John Woo’s skin for MP but no one would ever see it. I played this game about a year and a half since it came out so the online community has moved on a long time ago.


Tequila travels in style

The Bottom Line: Stranglehold is a great value at $20 now. I would get the Collector’s version on PS3 which means you are getting Hard Broiled and the game for $20. The game does a great job of gun action and destructible environments. Ignore the boring and generic story and enjoy destroying a whole population of people with the Tequila powers. It’s a lot of fun to go slow-mo and do some really stylish kills while bullets are flying past you. There are better third person shooters out there but this game deserves a little love.

  • Get Stranglehold if you like cinematic firefights with destructible enviroments, John Woo/Chow Yon-Fat and adding your own flair to games.
  • Avoid this game if you get bored easily from shooting henchman X, can't stand hour long levels, want a great multiplayer experience and desire a riveting story.

PS3 reviews game: Destructible environments are fun to render (and make me dizzy). I am drowning in alcohol references. Why am I not playing a game that utilizes the Unreal 3 Engine?

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