Developer: United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix
North American Release Date: August 14, 2012
European Release Date: August 17, 2012
Trophies: 38 , 5 , 2 , 1
You play as Wei Shen, an undercover cop in the Triads. This open-world game set in the crime-ridden city of Hong Kong lets you experience the best of both worlds and how Wei struggles within both sides.
The gameplay in Sleeping Dogs allows to do anything at any given time, each other crazier than before. Are you in a high-speed chase? You can jump from one car to another as you speed along the highway. Are you getting pursued, by either the triads or the cops? You can shoot out their wheels, and then observe the carnage in slow-motion. You can do the same when in a gunfight, the slow-motion battle feeling as awesome as it is brutal. If you’ve played Vanquish, you’ll feel right at home here.
I'd say the stalking level is a little too high here...
But the best part of Sleeping Dogs where gameplay is concerned is the combat. Very much like Batman: Arkham City, you’ll face off in some cases over a dozen thugs with brutal moves and techniques. However, unlike Arkham City, you can actually kill your opponents, and sometimes with the aid of the environment. One of the best (and most gut-wrenching) environmental kills comes from forcing the heads of your enemies over a burning furnace, and then watching as they burn to a crisp. Other options, such as throwing them in garbage bins, smashing them against walls and fans, not only look awesome, but earn you face points as well, which can then be used to deal extra damage to your opponents, and force them to cower in fear.
You have a number of unique moves at your disposal, increasing as you complete a particular side quest. The unparallel violence is enhanced through the slow motion kill cams, as the blood sprays, bones break and the screams of pain are heard. Even better, you can equip a weapon such as a tire-iron or kitchen knife – which can be dropped by your opponents – and use them to your advantage.
But that’s not all you can do, however. In the game’s many thrilling car chases you can hijack the cars, meaning you can jump from one to the other within seconds, and take control of the cars. It’s the sort of work that gets your blood pumping and has you craving for more. The game of course has guns, and has been tweaked to feel surprisingly meaty and effective, unlike so many other third person shooters. It’s not that all realistic, considering you can simply pick up a shotgun and let it rip, but the way in which the game allows you to shoot, especially when in slow-motion, gives a sense of gory satisfaction and weight. I will, however say that in the midst of these gunfights, the controls become clunky and unresponsive, especially when trying to duck for cover or run away. You end up feeling like an idiot as the enemies puncture you with bullets.
The AI isn’t exactly smart enough to all gang up on you, such as in the game like The Witcher 2, but they know when to strike, and when your back is turned in combat. They even position themselves in such a way that makes your escape even more difficult, and they will pull you out of cars if you – like me – decided that running them over instead of fighting them would be an easier solution. They become even smarter in gunfights. They only fire when it’s possible to hit you, and they won’t spray either. They’ll duck for cover and then only peek out to fire a couple of rounds – all together, might I add.
Ehhhhhh....sexy lady...oh wait, this isn't Korea.
The gameplay in Sleeping Dogs is brutal, weighty, and satisfying. It’s got everything you could want from an open world game, from brawls to car and police chases to minigames like karaoke and gambling, and everything the game does do it does smoothly. The gun fights leave a lot to be desired, but the game fulfils your expectations from the first moment to its last.
Let’s get one thing straight before we even begin guys. Not only is Sleeping Dogs is everything that Grand Theft Auto should have been, it excels and dwarves almost every single open world game out there (excluding RPGs of course). It’s one of those games that you’ll be able to play endlessly, and never failing to be amazed at its stunning and brutal world.
So, what’s the whole background of Sleeping Dogs? Well you play as Wei Shen, an American-Asian police officer who has been assigned with infiltrating the Triads of Hong Kong, called Sun On Yee and take them down. The plot sounds simple, but in reality it is anything but. Wei becomes engaged in a brutal war that involves multiple gangs within the Triads such as the Water Street Gang, the Jade gang, racers, drug dealers, the police and more. It’s a complex tale that has you question your original assumptions of good and bad once you realise that they aren’t really so clear-cut as you believed them to be. As you continue through the story, and grow fond of characters such as Winston Chu and his crazy mother, Jackie Ma, Uncle Po, your multiple girlfriends such as Amanda Cartwright (voiced by The Amazing Spiderman’s Emma Stone) you’ll discover their secrets, passions and goals, and you’ll see that they aren’t all the typical gangsters you’d automatically perceive them as. It’s sobering to know that these people are regarded as evil when subjects such as family and honour mean so much to them.
The story interweaves between multiple objectives set to you by friends, the triads, police and alike. Even though most of the missions are similar, they have a distinct feel to them, and allow you to delve a little deeper into the world of Sun On Yee's Hong Kong and its complex members within.
This is one hell of a violent game. Kids beware.
The best thing about this game is the atmosphere. It’s delicious and steamy layout does the inside of Hong Kong justice, and as a person who has visited the island, I can vouch for its authenticity. You can wonder into the night market, and rub shoulders with the locals as you hear their broken English and fluent Mandarin as the shopkeepers cry out and beg you to shop at their stall, which they insist is ‘da best place you can buy, sir, I show you, yes’, despite pretty much all the shops selling the same clothes. You can pick up a new mattress for your apartment, some pets and more. You can stop by the many food-stalls and buy delicious Asian food such as Pork buns and fish curry balls. Feeling tired? Go for a massage. In the mood to win some cash? Gamble your money on cock-fights. Now before you all buy the game, it’s cocks as in chickens, thus chicken-fights.
All this adds up to make one of the most atmospheric games in recent memory. The rich neon lights that hang over you as you explore every inch of this city is a blast. There’s also sightseeing to do, the malls to visit, and karaoke to sing. If you’re feeling religious, you can even pray at the many shrines around the city, which will also increase your health. Even when bumping into people on the street, their irritated cries and curses in broken English assist in making Sleeping Dogs a genuinely immersive game that you can easily get lost in. It’s stunning production values and variety of quests, missions and objectives keep the game from going stale. Unlike so many other games like it, Sleeping Dogs goes into great detail with everything, from the smallest rooms to the city view at night. You can tell that the developers made a real effort to make their game as tangible as possible, and that’s something you cannot possibly deny.
The world of Sleeping Dogs is brutal, violent and complex, but in despite of that it manages to create a compelling narrative in an immersive world. This is everything that Grand Theft Auto should have been, and thus is one of the best single-player campaigns you’ll come across this year.
The virtual version of Kong Kong is utterly drenched in detail and brilliant design. The city and markets come to life with huge neon signs and lit up buildings. The many shops have aisles and stacks of products with writing you can read. The fluent Mandarin spoken by the locals is often hilarious and thoughtful, especially when you bump into them. The visuals shine both technically and artistically, though a little weaker on the artistic side. Regardless, this is one of the best open world games you’ll be coming across, and it damn sure looks sweet.
The voice acting is solid, with hundreds of hours of genuine Mandarin script and voices which use great gusto such as Mrs. Chu, Wei Shen and Winston. Sleeping Dogs does everything it can to make this world feel real, and it does so to its best extent.
Another praiseworthy aspect is due with the radio stations. Many real bands such as Queen appear on the radio, along with advertisements and radio shows, both in English and Mandarin, adding yet another layer of complexity to the game.
Sleeping Dogs isn’t that hard, it’s merely time-consuming, but in a good way. You’ll need to win a certain amount of cash at gambling, kill any enemy with each type of gun, among other things. Regardless, Sleeping Dogs provides an enjoyable, albeit long, journey to its platinum trophy.
Sleeping Dogs provides you with a complex story, a dark world in which two sides blend into one, brutal combat and gunplay, brilliant design and fantastic replay value. It’ll take ages to complete and find everything, and you’ll enjoy every moment of it. Sleeping Dogs is not only one of the best games of the year; it’s one of the best open world games of all time. It’s everything that GTA should be and more. This is one adventure you don’t want to miss out on.
Well rounded and polished well.
One of the best this year, no contest.
Shines well even when under pressure