At one point being True Crime: Hong Kong and close to not seeing the light of day, Square Enix picks up the title and re names it to Sleeping Dogs. A game about values, loyalty, fast cars and a city that’s vibrant and full of life.
Obviously games such as this are not new looking at similar franchises such as GTA and Saint’s Row, however can Sleeping Dogs become the hit that United Front Games know it can be? Or should it have been left in the dark when Activision dropped it?
The player assumes the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop who is assigned with the task of infiltrating the Triad faction called the Sun On Yee and to take them down from the inside. While in prison for a failed drug bust, Wei meets up with his old childhood friend Jackie Ma who introduces him to Triad Boss Winston Chu, thus allowing Wei access to the society.
|Wei Shen at the Night Market.|
If anything I felt that the story was too short seeing as certain elements could have been expanded on however at the same time extending it any further may have caused unnecessary filler and lowered its overall quality. The actual pacing and sequence of events was quite good giving enough time for the player to understand and make their own decisions based on what was happening. Character interaction felt believable, especially whenever Wei and Jackie converse you feel that older/ little brother mood going on therefore immersing yourself even further into the narrative. If anything there was quite a lot left out in the open that could easily be used in a sequel or even a prequel but as for this specific title, it probably has one of the more better structured storylines compared to other games in the same genre.
So Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure game borrows quite a bit from Hollywood films through its epic car chases and fluid free running. Most games in its genre would be expected to have quite a large map however this one doesn’t and in the long run, it probably works better that way by having the gameplay more condensed instead of having the player travel long distances. Of course this doesn’t mean you will get to every destination really quickly so for those people who like to hit the highway in a really fast car, there is more than enough road for you to burn rubber on.
|Elbow drop son!|
Driving is encouraged quite a bit here as you can visit car dealers throughout the city and purchase expensive yet fast vehicles. This is coupled by the fact that later on, street races are unlocked in which each has a specification to what class of vehicle is allowed to be used. The two that can be bought are Motorcycles and Cars so if you wish to enter every race, getting all of them from every class is kind of necessary. The races themselves are pretty challenging as it seems that every time you think you have the fastest car, your opponent’s just seems to be that much quicker. The routes themselves test your skills pretty well so don’t expect an easy time from the get go and depending on what your driving, you would have to take in to account how much speed you’re going at when reaching a bend, when to brake and where you’re opponents are adding just a bit more realism to the system.
A big feature in Sleeping Dogs is the expansive combat allowing you to make use of a different number of combinations to pull off some devastating moves. The system makes use of hitting a button a certain number of times or holding it down for that heavy attack. There’s also a counter in which you can evade the enemy’s attack and perform one of your own. It’s quite similar to what’s offered in Batman: Arkham City although it’s a lot more refined here e.g. When countering if you miss time it, it takes a few seconds for Wei to go back to his normal stance, therefore making you vulnerable to enemy attacks. At the beginning, a standard set of attacks are available to you but as you go through the game, you’re able to unlock new moves that deal a lot more damage. You can do this by either increasing your Triad level or returning the missing Jade statues to Sifu, Wei’s old martial arts teacher.
Other extras include small collectibles such health shrines located around the city which increases your overall health meter and lockboxes which contain money and sometimes special items. You can also do karaoke to a number of old school tracks and get treatments to better help your progress e.g. getting a massage will help increase your face meter faster. In a way, Sleeping Dogs is like a mash up of good gameplay seen in different titles and to be honest it’s surprisingly fun to play.
Hong Kong is where the game is set and they seemed to bring it to life in Sleeping Dogs. Whether it’s the busy and active Night Market where the many stalls are trying to sell their food and merchandise all the way to the clubs where the people are partying, it’s clear that a tremendous amount of effort was put forward to making sure the environment constantly amazed and made you feel like you were in Hong Kong. Of course a game of this size will come with the random visual glitches but nothing that hinders the overall experience. Textures are of a really high quality and the main character models look great.
|Hong Kong in all its beauty.|
Bringing this title to fruition may have been rough however all the effort put into it seems to have been worth it. The story is clean and easy to understand and Hong Kong looks full of life. The gameplay is fun and never seems to get boring and characters are interesting and have a lot of background. In a way the story could have been extended and certain elements such as the persuasion mechanic could have had a lot more done to it but as a complete package, this is a solid title. Sleeping Dogs will take you to the dark side of Hong Kong and surprisingly will make you want to stay there.
Story = 9.5/10
Gameplay = 9/10
Graphics = 9/10
Final We Know Gamers Score = 9.1/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Sleeping Dogs Review
Reviewed by Liban Ali
on Sept 09 2012
Reviewed by Liban Ali
on Sept 09 2012