We just got out of our meeting with the senior producer of Stranglehold and the vice president of animation. After a small introduction into the world of John Woo, we started talking about the game.
The story of the game is a sequel to John Wooâ€™s movie Hard Boiled. Youâ€™ll be playing inspector Tequila, a good cop with a bad attitude, kind of like Dirty Harry. Your character is an exact replica of Chow Yun-Fat, both his voice and his face were used in the production of this game. Youâ€™ll be playing through a linear mission based storyline written by John Wooâ€™s writers.
The technology for this game is very high-end. Both the (heavily modified) Unreal 3 engine and the Havok physics engine are used to create the gorgeous looking fully destructable environments. Theyâ€™re going for a steady 30fps in this game. There are lots of different places for you to visit. Youâ€™ll be playing in Hong Kong, Chicago and a lot of other places each offering new scenery.
After the producer demoed around a bit we finally got to play around with it. We were in some sort of bar where we were shooting up some bad guys. The 3rd person view immediately reminded us of Max Payne, which was also inspired by John Woo. But thereâ€™s way more interaction with your environment. You can dive on tables, swing on lamps, run up railings and best of all, destroy your environment. After picking up my jaw when it dropped, we started shooting walls, pillars, lamps, cabinets, tables and everything that might react differently to our gunfire. When youâ€™re hiding behind a pillar itâ€™s only temporary shelter because your enemies eventually blast through it. Thereâ€™s a level where youâ€™ll be playing in a 3 floor glass building, with pillars supporting it. We were told youâ€™ll be able to take out the pillars and the building will collapse. The same goes for a museum where youâ€™ll be seeing huge statues of dinosaurs which youâ€™ll be able to take down as well.
Inspector Tequila has some special movies for us, youâ€™ll be able to use slow motion, called Tequila-time, which is automatically activated when needed. But whatâ€™s especially neat is his ‘Tequila bomb’. While youâ€™re shooting up bad guys the Tequila bar will fill up and once full, you can activate your smartbomb-like special move. You automatically kill every enemy around you while youâ€™ll be presented with a neat looking inspector Tequila shooting in slow-motion. While the move is in progress youâ€™ll see some doves flying around, John Woo style all the way.
We didnâ€™t get to play with vehicles unfortunately but we were told youâ€™ll be able to amazing stuff with them too. Thereâ€™s even a bay area where youâ€™ll be able to drive boats. Vehicle to vehicle combat is also present, but there werenâ€™t much details available yet though they’re getting boats and cars in there and they’re trying to get bikes in as well.
Thereâ€™s also Multiplayer action in this game but we werenâ€™t able to play. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and probably Capture The Flag will be amongst the multiplayer modes. They’re shooting for at least 8 players per match but there might be more.
The thing that amazed us the most about Stranglehold is the smoothness of the whole thing. You’ll practically only use your analog sticks and both of the triggers and that’s it. We were able to dive around, run across railings, slide over tables and hang from chandeliers in no time. The motion captured animation and (almost) fully destructable environments contributed to the smoothness a lot as well. When we were shown a table with some bottles on it we didn’t suspect that the actual table itself would be destructable until we actually started shooting it. That feeling stayed with us throughout the whole demo. Stranglehold is a great showcase of what titles could be like when they’re developed for next-gen consoles from the ground up.
John Who’s Stranglehold is being developed for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. The Xbox 360 version is scheduled for a release in the first quarter of 2007. We are looking forward to it quite a bit, Stranglehold came as one of the best surprises at the convention.