When most people think of John Woo they think of Chow Yun-Fat wearing some sunglasses and shooting 20 guys whilst doves fly around. Amazingly John Woo’s second game to date doesn’t feature Chow Yun-Fat or doves, but it does have sunglasses and shooting people so he hasn’t completely deviated from tradition. John Woo’s first game, ‘John Woo’s Stranglehold’, is now an evergreen title in CEX and other second-hand game shops, it came out early in the generation and was very quickly dismissed as something that deserved to have stuck around on the PS2. Much like John Woo’s Stranglehold, Bloodstroke: A John Woo Game is all about style over substance.
It’s hard to know how much John Woo actually did for the game, I find it hard to believe he was a coder or an artist but what ever his input was he can sleep safe knowing that his name hasn’t been attached to a complete stinker. John Woo is a master film maker and simply put I’m a huge fan. His career in Asia in the 80’s and 90’s was clearly his peak but I even enjoyed his Western market dabbles like Hard Target and Face/Off, both of which contain doves.
Bloodstroke: A John Woo Game is his latest title that is seeing its release on iOS platforms today. As soon as you load up the game you notice one thing, the art design is some of the best you would have seen in a long time. The iOS platform gives the opportunity for getting casual gamers and hardcore gamers alike, this is mostly due to the portability and ease of use of the device. It does however have its limitations in the form of only touchscreen controls and something that when all is said and done isn’t actually that powerful. It’s admirable to see some developers aim high with their games but the truth is Bloodstroke: A John Woo Game nails the idea of working with what you have. The graphics on the face of it are quite simple but when you actually play the minimalist use of colours; red, black and white, displayed in watercolour style are beautiful.
The game has its inspirations and roots in Asian culture and the art style matches that wonderfully. You control Lotus a woman who, thanks to saving the right guy at the right time, has landed herself a career as a mercenary. The story tries to build itself up a bit more than that, and in some pretty impressive cut-scenes, but when you see that the game rates you at the end of each level with three stars equivalents you realise that story isn’t going to be the priority.
Lotus is a woman with a job, her job is to protect a scientist whilst escorting him from location A to location B. Enemies are gunning for your buddy and although he can be trusted with a white coat and a huge IQ he can’t be trusted with a gun, that’s where Lotus comes in. She must jog along side the pacifist scientist and shoot or slice the various bad guys. With each kill you gain moolah which is spent in upgrading Lotus’s gun’s or blades. Alternatively if you’re feeling kind you can buy a Kevlar jacket for your doctor or increase his base health. If you are just starting out I highly recommend spending every penny on reducing reload times.
The game uses virtual joysticks, a mechanic I love and hate in equal measures. Thankfully in Bloodstroke: A John Woo Game the sticks are built to the right sensitivity and the isometric camera is attached to rails along with the doc. Sometimes you will face the issue of enemies that haven’t appeared on-screen yet taking pot shots but with Lotus’ auto-aim system rarely are they a problem for long. If you’re feeling brave, or stupid, running face first into the enemies gives you the opportunity to slice them up like a badass before sending a spray of red paint over the crisp white floor.
Bloodstroke: A John Woo Game isn’t anything new, however it is an extremely polished and beautiful game. The story may drift over you but if you are able to give it some time you will be given some seriously fun gameplay that doesn’t hound you with micro-transactions. John Woo’s input is questionable, but the team behind the game, Chimera Entertainment, have got a seriously talented art team working for them that deserve huge praise for this title. It wont change your life, but if you are at all a fan of Asian Culture or design then I recommend this game wholeheartedly.