At a Midway press event yesterday, Stranglehold got the star pupil treatment -- a seat up front, prime placement in the conference rotation, and the big screen location when it was time for the games to go their separate ways. As the title that's more or less leading Midway into next-gen, there's a lot riding on this one, so we went in search of any and all information we didn't previously know.
Between our hands-on time with a chunk of the Chicago History Museum level and an interview with executive producer Brian Eddy at the event, we came up with a list of new nuggets of info on what could be Midway's best game this year.
#1 - Co-op Is Out: Though the developers were hoping to implement (but not committed to) a cooperative mode early on in Stranglehold's development, we now can confirm that there won't be a co-op feature in the game when it ships later this year. "We're big fans of co-op, but we're not going to be able to get it in this version," says Eddy. "But..."
#2 - Versus Multiplayer Is In: "...we are going to have [competitive] multiplayer." Midway isn't ready to talk specifics about this mode yet, but here's a bit of hinting from Eddy: "If you can imagine everything you see in the game being available in multiplayer... it's something you haven't really seen in multiplayer before."
#3 - You Have To Balance Your Power-Up Juice: If you've been paying attention to the finer details of Stranglehold, you may have heard about the new Tequila Bomb attacks that players unlock as they progress through the game -- the barrage, spin attack, and precision aim moves that let players shower enemies with bullets, take out all nearby enemies with a 360 degree motion, and fire a single bullet into any part of an opponent in a super dramatic fashion, respectively.
The real beauty of this special move system, however, is how all these moves share a power-up meter with optional health upgrades. So if you are good about finding all the health packs in each level and you don't lose too much life, you will be free to experiment more with these special moves. But, if you are low on life you will likely want to dig into your power-up meter to replenish your life bar instead.
#4 - Precision Aim Is Just For Show: Don't get us wrong -- it looks to provide a cool and effective attack -- but if you use precision aim and shoot someone in the foot, they'll still die. So don't go looking for too many enemies with fire extinguishers on their backs or House of the Dead-style bosses where you have to hit them in a very specific location in order to get by. It may help you to do so in some cases, but that's not the main point of the feature.
SCREENS: Eddy assures us that downloadable content will be available for the game post-release. "Whether it is multiplayer maps or even past that -- something bigger and more extensive -- we're looking into all that right now," he says. "Management's really excited about getting into that venture and being able to have people download stuff." Click the image above to check out all Stranglehold screens.
#5 - Hard Boiled Might Be Packed-In: Awhile back, Midway posted an online survey asking if players would be interested in a PlayStation 3 collector's edition of Stranglehold -- one that would include a Blu-Ray version of Hard Boiled, the film that inspired Stranglehold -- for $10 extra. When asked about it, Eddy smiled confidently and responded: "Can't say too much about that, but there may be something in the future."
#6 - Tilt To Win: The development team is investigating ways to use the tilt functions in the PS3 controller to help separate that version from the 360 and PC games. One of these is guiding a bullet with the precision aiming feature, but "there's a bunch of little ideas we're tossing around," according to Eddy.
#7 - You Almost Feel Like A Badass: One of the developer quotes that kept popping up at Midway's event is how Stranglehold lets players "feel like a badass." And the game is very close to achieving that, but in its current state there are a few things holding it back from unleashing players along the lines of something like God of War. For one, the player tends to move a bit slowly when walking around -- not walking-through-water slow but definitely thicker-than-normal air. "We probably want to speed him up a little bit," says Eddy. "[As a character] Tequila's really agile, and we want to make sure that in the game he's really agile too."
Also, Tequila sometimes has stiff transitions when interacting with the environment, is constantly searching for health packs, and faces off with certain enemies that take an oddly large number of bullets before falling over. Many of these are design choices and not necessarily flaws, but they add up to a game that doesn't quite make us feel like a badass all the time at this point.
#8 - There will be a demo: For anyone worried about anything we wrote in the previous entry, Midway will be putting out a pre-release demo on 360, PS3 and PC to let you try the game in a close to final form. Eddy and his team are looking at a single-player demo first, but they "may even do two demos -- a single and a multiplayer demo."