I have to be honest here — Sleeping Dogs was barely a blimp on my radar. I knew it was coming out, but I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it (call it ignorance or indifference). So I went into the game with zero expectations. Now here are my thoughts in the form of a review — enjoy!
The Story – Sleeping Dogs follows Wei Shen, an undercover cop with a rocky past. He finds himself back in Hong Kong after living abroad for a few years and he is tasked with bringing down the Triad. Now he must live on both sides of the law while battling the demons of his past.
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Title: Sleeping Dogs
Genre: Sandbox/Third-Person Shooter
Developer: United Front Games
Platform: PS3/PC/Xbox 360
Release Date: 8/14/12[/toggle_box]
- Hong Kong – The city is vibrant, dense, and a refreshing change of pace from the American cities we’re use to seeing in open word sandbox games.
- Mission Possible – The mission variety will ensure that you rarely feel like things are becoming super repetitive. One minute you’re beating up thugs, tailing suspects, chasing robbers through the streets, evading the police, taking pictures, racing, planting bugs, etc.
- Keeping You Busy – Races fight clubs, cock fights, drug busts, hacking, karaoke, collectables, stores, dates, favors, and more will keep you busy between missions. There’s always something to do and at times Sleeping Dogs wealth of activities eclipses the ones found in GTA and Saints Row.
- Crawl Before You Can Walk – Most urban sandbox games give you a gun right away, so it’s refreshing to see Sleeping Dogs take a different approach. United Front Games wants you to learn the fighting system first, so you’ll be trading punches with thugs for the first few hours. This makes you appreciate guns more once you finally get your hands on one.
- Fighting System – The combat system may be the best to ever grace an urban sandbox game. Button mashing will get you nowhere fast. If you want to stand a chance here you need to counter, grapple, and tailor your tactics to fit the various enemy types.
- I Got a Chopper in the Car! – The gunplay is average, but it gets the job done. You can take cover and pull off slow-motion “Max Payne” style bullet time moves. You can also shot while driving. This feels clumsy at first, but it eventually becomes easier.
- Drive – The vehicles handle perfectly. They find a comfortable balance between simulation and arcade racer (they lean more towards the arcade side while also feeling somewhat realistic). Oh and you can also jump between cars (Pursuit Force style). The only problem I had was remembering to drive on the left side of the road…
- Level Up – At times Sleeping Dogs felt like an RPG. You’re constantly leveling up and learning new moves and abilities. You have a cop and a thug meter that you have to level up separately. Even your choice of clothes has benefits, pick the right outfit to raise your offense. Plus there are boosters that can help you in combat. Get some tea and you’ll take less damage.
- Give Chase – Running through the streets of Hong Kong couldn’t be more fun. Some of the chase sequences felt like something out of Assassins Creed.
- The Little Things – The citizens of Hong Kong behave in a realistic way. When it rains they seek shelter and use umbrellas and they look like they have their own lives.
- Get Rammed! – Ramming cars doesn’t feel right – it’s too stiff. Sadly you’ll be doing this a lot once the police are breathing down your ass at 100 mph.
- Shallow Dating – You can date five women, but don’t expect anything long-term. They vanish as quickly as they appear and you’re left wondering – what’s the point? Sure, they unlock collectibles on the map, but I would have liked for a few of them to stick around (Emma Stone’s character comes to mind).
- Bringing a Gun to a Fist Fight – The hand-to-hand combat is well done, but it can become tedious. At some point you’ll say, “Sigh, can I just shoot these bastards already?”
- Plastic Hair – The graphics are solid for game of this size, but the hair looks like something from the PS2/Xbox/GameCube era. I know this is a weird criticism, but the hair is absolutely cringeworthy.
- Put Ya Money in That Real Estate – Hong Kong is dense, but the world map is a little on the small/medium side. I would have liked a few more areas to explore. This is far from game breaking, but if you’re expecting a map that rivals GTA IV’s or Just Cause 2’s you’re going to be severely disappointed.
Sleeping Dogs’ 25-30 hour campaign (including extra missions and activities) should tide you over until the next major urban sandbox game hits the market. It’s one of the better games to come out in 2012, and Activision made a huge mistake when they decided to pass on it. Minor graphical problems and a medium-sized map shouldn’t discourage you from dropping your hard-earned cash on this gem. See, sometimes it’s good to go into a game sans the hype.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 9
Amazing – This is a must have, you’ll see this game on top ten lists at the end of the year.[/toggle_box]