"John Woo Presents: Stranglehold" is pretty great, much better than I thought at first. The demo presents a single level in Hong Kong, and not even a complete one, but once you’ve played through it you earn another level of difficulty and a new special manoeuvre. You can then complete it again for another ability and difficulty level. I played long enough to see this second technique, and did not finish it a third time, but presumably you could go on and on like that - hauling up its riches - until you revealed the deepest secrets of the universe.
For most readers, I’m not sure that the Normal setting will provide a positive impression. There’s simply not enough risk, and your first time through you’re mostly going to be sliding back and forth on tables and other flat surfaces. Before you’ve learned to use the environment, this animation just looks a little weird, especially in a world whose fidelity is so high in other ways. Second time through, you’ll be using those edges for long slides, firing with a single pistol at the next wave of doomed men.
When I say that the world is high fidelity, I don’t mean to imply that it is realistic, even though that is the natural interpretation. It’s realistic according to itself, consistent, but it’s not like our world. If you bump a basket of apples on the counter at home, apples don’t leap into the air like living things. Stranglehold is a place where gourds fucking freak out. If you should fire your shotgun in a crowded market, these volatile "Wootermelons" will burst like fireworks.
I had to turn the sensitivity down a few notches, and this made a game that was feeling a little slippery much tighter. Once I reigned in these inputs, took advantage of the increased difficulty, and started shooting foes exclusively in the balls any lingering doubts about my purchase were eradicated. We played the demo on the 360, so we were thinking about achievements at the time - but Hard Boiled in HD, included with the PS3 Collector’s Edition, is an unbelievably powerful motivator.
Stranglehold has a full multiplayer implementation as well, but that was never the draw for me. Frankly, it seems almost impossible to execute - but I wouldn’t have believed The Specialists was possible either, and that shit be savory.
The Bioshock demo was snuck up onto Live last night at around eight my time. I hardly know what to say, and I can’t say anything without diminishing your own experience. You need to make downloading this demo and playing it to completion your life’s only purpose.