Hey, did you know that John Woo made an Android game? You will by the time you read the Play Store description for Chillingo's latest title, Bloodstroke. The first screenshot is literally the game's logo and a headshot of the well-known Hong Kong movie director and producer, with his name featured twice. You know, just in case you didn't get the message. Exactly how Woo is involved in Bloodstroke isn't mentioned - is he a designer? Producer? Art director? Did he code the entire thing by hand on the set of Windtalkers? We don't know, and it doesn't matter.
To give credit where it's due, Bloodstroke is a gorgeous game, more because of its visual style than the polygonal graphics themselves. You play Lotus, a private security expert who's been double-crossed and decides to solve her client's problems by shooting or stabbing her way through the population of Beijing. The glitzy cutscenes and full voice acting hide a paper-thin story, but you probably won't care, because the whole thing looks like you're running through an ink wash painting. (Before you comment: yes, I know sumi-e is Japanese and the story is set in China. Allow me some brevity for a headline.) The ink graphics paint the environment and baddies in black, while Lotus, attacks, and game elements are smeared in blood red. It's a lot like Madworld with a little more subtlety and style.
And lest you think the game is relying on its looks alone, Bloodstroke actually has some new ideas. The top-down view moves constantly through the monochromatic landscape, forcing players to keep on their toes either shooting opponents or moving in for a melee kill. The player character is more or less invincible - the point is to protect your employer, who moves along behind you and will take damage if undefended. This could turn annoying really quickly, but the camera moves steadily and it's possible to zone out enemies with your attacks. The structure is more like tower defense than the dreaded "escort missions" of conventional console games.
Bloodstroke is a $1 game with in-app purchases, presumably because Chillingo owner EA insisted. The IAP follows the standard in-game currency model for upgrading your weapons and equipment (thankfully there are no power bars or stamina). Various reviews of the iOS version that launched earlier this year say that while annoying, the IAP system doesn't make it impossible to win without spending more money. Note that like all EA Android games, the Play Store listings are split between North America and the rest of the world.