lil review: Sleeping Dogs

  • Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
  • Developer: United Front Games
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: August 14, 2012
  • Price: $49.99
  • Official: Sleeping Dogs

“Well worth visiting this Hong Kong”

Sleeping Dogs, formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong, had a long rough development cycle that saw it losing Activision as a publisher and then being picked up by Square Enix who saw potential in the project. Because of these events most wrote it off as a title that was just a lost cause, but most are grateful now that Square picked it back up off the floor, because United Front Games actually managed to craft a well done game.

Players take control of Detective Wei Shen, a man who has gone undercover to infiltrate the criminal underworld that controls the city. This tale is told far better than I had expected, both the writing and the acting are top notch, and the story of where Shen’s allegiance truly lies is done well enough as well, even if it doesn’t delve as deep as I would have liked.

Outside of the story Sleeping Dogs is undoubtedly an open world crime game, comparisons to Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row are going to happen and that’s fine, as the game is still a good title that can stand up with those big names. Once your given freedom, the majority of the city is open to you from the outset, and it is a striking locale. On the PC version which I played, United Front released a “High Resolution Texture Pack” and with this addition, the visuals are fantastic. This city is extremely detailed and alive, far more so than any Saints Row title, although it doesn’t have the craziness of that world. City streets are filled with traffic (driving on the appropriate side of the road) and sidewalks are littered with stalls selling second rate product. Shops that you can walk into are well detailed and the lighting and water in this game are downright gorgeous.

Once you are done soaking it all in, the mission variety found in the game is fine, but not as diverse as I would have liked. For the majority of the story the missions are generic GTA fare, while side missions range from races, fight clubs, karaoke, even cock fights. But while the mission variety is all serviceable the story and cutscenes are done well enough to keep you moving forward with the game.

The real defining differences in Sleeping Dogs are the combat and loyalty systems. United Front made sure to put a lot of emphasis on the hand to hand fighting during development, and it was a smart choice. The fighting system in place here is very similar to the one found in Batman Arkham Asylum, with Wei being able to string together combos while seamlessly changing targets and countering attacks. The combat is fast and brutal with a heavy emphasis on environmental attacks such as slamming an enemy’s head into a spinning fan or dropping an entire car engine into a man’s chest. The hand to hand combat is always entertaining and its actually a drag when later in the game guns start to come into play more.

Another interesting addition is the way Shen gains experience. During missions, depending on your recklessness or aggression, Wei will gain XP in two fields: Triad and Police. Each bar comes with its own perks that you can spend your XP on, such as bullet time or surprise attacks. There is also a Face meter which tracks Wei’s popularity that opens up further perks. Besides these methods of progressing players can also partake in martial arts school’s that will also unlock new fighting techniques to use in your fights.

Sleeping Dogs is a fun sandbox title that tells an interesting story with likeable characters, and it just so happens to be set in a far more interesting location than most games of its ilk. Although its main story missions aren’t anything new, they are done well and are complemented with a fun fighting system and nice amounts of customization, not only in your skillsets but also in Wei’s physical look as well as that of his apartment. If you are a fan of these types of games, Sleeping Dogs is well worth a look. -Chuck

lil Rundown

  • + Interesting setting
  • + Graphics, particularly on PC, are great
  • + Combat is fast and fun
  • – Mission variety is underwhelming
  • – Not as many side content as one would like

Final Score

8.0 / 10


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