So, a few months ago I picked up Stranglehold when it was on sale for 10 bucks at Gamefly. I had never had too much interest in the game, but the low price couple with Cheapy's constant mention of it on the CAGcast helped to make my decision.
Now,.. let me start this by saying that for the most part, I don't play shooting games on the 360. I've never adapted to twin stick shooters being that I'm a pure bred PC gamer. FPS's on the Wii are ok when the controls are done right,.. but that is rare .. Metroid Prime 3 may be the only one I've enjoyed there so far. For the most part, I don't believe that shooters have any place on consoles.
Anyway,.. I knew going in that Stranglehold was only about 7 hours long, so I figured it wouldn't be bad to blow through it since I'm a big fan of HK cinema. I started out and was immediately impressed by the physics and destructible environments, but as usual, the general gameplay felt like a chore.. there's just something about a low resolution display(ie.. ANY tv vs. a computer monitor) and the inaccuracy of the analog stick that makes for extremely frustrating aiming. Luckily, the first few levels were mildly enjoyable thanks to the plethora of environmental kills and interactions.
That enjoyment started to dissipate quickly when I got to the Casino chapter. It took me probably over an hour just to get through that 5 minute scene. A little further ahead, I got to the restaurant, and my patience for the game flew right out the window. No matter what I did, I couldn't track the seemingly endless streams of assholes
assaulting me from every direction. After probably 3 hours of attempts over a week.. I made the decision to kick it down to the insultingly labeled "Casual" setting, and I got through the rest of the game in a fairly enjoyable manner. I wasn't dominating, but I wasn't being killed every two minutes either.
After I completed the game, I started looking at the achievements list to see which ones I could sweep up, as I tend to do with 360 games. I set off on that task and realized that I was having a truly good time hopping in and out of the chapters. Apparently something clicked between that restaurant level and the end of the game.. perhaps I had gotten used to that damned analog stick, or maybe I had subconsciously memorized the enemy patterns or expected AI behavior. I loaded up the Casino scene on normal, and got through it at once with no difficulty at all. I kept playing. I made it to the restaurant and breezed through it in my first try. I fought Lok, and after dieing once,.. I tore him to pieces. I suddenly realized that I was going to be able to finish the game on Normal, and most importantly, have a lot of fun doing it.
Stranglehold instantly went from being a "meh" game that I never would have looked twice at, to my own personal John Woo playground. I felt untouchable, and it was a great feeling. I didn't have time to finish the game completely on normal yet, but I did get about halfway through Chapter 6 so I'm well on my way and should be done some night this week. Overall, I'm really glad I bought it, and most importantly, that I stuck with it. I guess I owe it all to those meaningless achievement points.
If this writeup wasn't convincing enough, let me add one final point to this.. I had planned to start Mass Effect this long weekend. It never made it into the disc tray. That alone should speak volumes about Stranglehold's fun factor.