It’s a dog’s life…
This time at GGUK we are going to be reviewing a game that was almost canned and doomed never to see the light of day. But thanks to Square Enix and United Front games, it was saved from the cutting room floor. The game we are reviewing is none other than Sleeping Dogs. So after the long summer will this be top dog? Or is it just best to let sleeping dogs lie?
You fill the boots of Wei Shen, an undercover cop who is returning home to Hong Kong after being transferred from San Francisco. Wei has been assigned by the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau to go undercover and infiltrate the Sun On Yee, who are a wing of the Hong Kong Triad, with the goal to bring them down from the inside.
With Wei being both a cop and a Triad, the games missions are split in two – one half of the game sees you fighting to defend the law and stopping crimes, the other side sees you breaking it, with you having to commit crimes to prove your worth to the Triad.
The game starts with Wei at a drug deal in the dock area, but a security guard getting in the way soon sees the cops show up and Wei is on the run for them through, over and under the Hong Kong dockside. This is a great opening to the game as you get a feel of the look and of the city as the game is set in an open world. The whole of Hong Kong is your playground once you have completed the first few missions to set you up and show you the ropes of the game, from your safe house, to how to steal a ride.
The main story should last you around 15/16hrs and will see you falling deeper into the Hong Kong underworld and the line between being a cop and a criminal becomes more and more blurred as you make friends and bonds with some of the worst people in the game.
The world of Sleeping Dogs is a true joy to be part of with the streets being full of life with people going about their business like street vendors selling food, to busy markets, to dock sides and the neon streets. The back drop is one of the best I have played in an open world game for some time and it’s truly up there with the likes of GTA and Saints Row. When it comes to sound, the game does a great job with standout features being that the games audio is split half in English and half in Cantonese, giving the whole game a real grounding that other games lack.
Sleeping Dogs is an over the shoulder action adventure game with role playing elements. On foot you can walk, run, jump and climb over obstacles and swim, as well as use weapons when you find them like pipes, knives or firearms which turn up later on in the game. There are your standard fare of handguns and shotguns. All the weapons give you an upper hand in a fight so are well worth having, though you can’t store them so it’s a pain to drop them after a fight. You can also get behind the wheel of a large range of vehicles like cars, bikes and boats, so you’ll never be stuck in one place for long.
Though you can fight with weapons, the focus of the combat is hand to hand which is very similar to the system used in Batman: Arkham Asylum with it being free flowing. This is a little bit hard to get to grips with at the start, but after a few fights you’ll be kicking butt. About 70% of the fighting in the game is hand-to-hand.
Although the storyline missions are necessary to make progress in the main game and unlock certain areas and parts of the city, they are not required as you can complete them at your leisure and in any order you like. When you’re not doing story missions try a host of sub missions like carjacking, fight clubs and even karaoke which all add depth to the whole game. On top of those there are also gambling dens and cockfights for you to try and make an extra few Hong Kong dollars, which you can spend on girlfriend missions which, if you complete, will unlock new skills for Wei like the ability to hack cameras and free running.
Sleeping Dogs has a role-playing style XP system with three different experience point trees; Triad XP, Face XP and Police XP. Triad and Police are unlocked by completing the missions in the main storyline and will unlock new styles like finding weapons in the trunk of cars such as tyre irons or guns, to new combos and the ability to steal cars without setting the alarm off. The other sort of XP is Face and you unlock this by doing a mission in the world like helping out people or buying clothes and this XP unlocks abilities like being able to call for a car. This role-playing side of the game adds an interesting edge to how your game will play though and you will have all the skills by the time you get to the later missions in the game.
Overall Sleeping Dogs is a great game, though it has a few issues. These are easily over looked when you consider the whole package of the game, from the missions, to the world ,to the main story. Sleeping Dogs embodies its name because it’s a sure fire sleeper hit and a must play, if only to see the bright lights of Hong Kong. For a weekend’s play, it really is a joy from start to finish.
Life in the old dog yet!