(Available on XBox 360, PS3 and PC)
Reviewed on XBox 360
The folks at Square Enix sent over Sleeping
Dogs for us to take a look at, so this review is for the Xbox 360
version of the game. So ok, the game has come a long way from what it
was going to be. Title Changes and concepts and tweaks…Back when it was
dropped from one publisher, to when it was picked up and dusted off by
Square Enix. It looks like Square Enix continues to show some vision
when it took on this game from United Front Games and now published,
While it does have some minor game play glitches (See my note on
countering) none of this detracts so much from the game that it is not
an enjoyable ride. It may be a one ride pony, with the allure of
replaying and moving up the leader boards giving it some minor replay
ability. It’s still impressive in its shining moments.
My first thought of the game as I played the interesting opening mission
was “So this is what happens when True Crime and Grand Theft Auto have a
prodigy love child.”
To say it’s a Grand theft Auto in china is simplification at its worst.
The game of course cannot help but be compared in many ways to Grand
theft Auto, but Sleeping Dogs stands on its own two feet in the gaming
world and offers up some interesting things and some amusing side treks.
First off the game is brimming with atmosphere and the culture of Hong
Kong. It’s not just set in Hong Kong, the developers show the love with
all of the nuances that come with the setting and better yet, they get
The game is set in Hong Kong a shining jewel of neon hiding the seedy
underworld of the Triads, an organization with a long history in crime
some say as far back as the 1700’s and founded as The Heaven and Earth
Society and rumor has it had been part of the Boxer rebellion and even
White lotus Society.
In the game we take on the part of Wei Shen, who has one foot in the
underworld and one foot in law Enforcement. As Wei Shen the lines are
constantly blurred as you take on the Triads from the inside.
You have to worry at almost every turn, who to trust, how much to trust
them, and if you are one step away from blowing your cover.
Sometimes the things the character has to do to survive May cross the
line. It leaves you wondering just how far Wei Shen will go. His
motivations are not just for law and order either, though unlike some
writers I will not ruin it for you. There are some deep motivations
here, and some story twists …while some of the events are predictable it
does not make it any less enjoyable.
This is the good stuff that an interactive movie adventure is all about
United Front Games brings the action packed tradition of Hong Kong new
wave action films to the gaming world, and punches us in the face with
this high impact adventure.
The game play balances through adventure with Police missions and Triad
missions. After a mission Triad or Cop experience levels rise and
rewards are gained as well. Advancing also gives the player a chance to
unlock skill upgrades. The balance here is that say for instance you are
in a shootout during a Triad mission. Just like a Police Officer, you
have to be concerned with what is down range of your gunfire. Hitting
city property or worse, civilians, this will result in few if any Cop
points for the mission.
Since the game is dealing with Hong Kong and introduces the culture
pretty well, it also includes Face and the Face meter. Face in Chinese
culture can be compared to what some may call reputation. The game
handles face in a simplified way. When in reality much like reputation,
Face can be rather complex at time. It works hand in hand with guanxi
(relations). They just don’t work separately. As noted face can be a
very complex thing. You can have good Face, Lose face, Lend face and
even Save Face. Though again the game handles it straight forward and
more simplified. I applaud the designers for delving deep into the
culture to bring something more to the table in a deeper way than just
in a generic throw away. There is an older article here by John Melendez
about Face and is a good read for those interested in the concept
The Face Meter fills up from doing favors for instance, and can give the
character temporary abilities to focus and do extra damage in combat.
The Face Abilities upgrade like other skills, giving Wei a chance to
upgrade Face Advantages. So you gain more face for Favors, Street Race
or other event, The higher the experience and Face gained the more new
moves and skills open up to the character. Including perks like
discounts in stores to higher quality goods.
The atmosphere and culture and the subtle nuances show the great lengths
the designers went to, in order to bring Sleeping Dogs to a level that a
gamer should be dammed proud to play in this gaming world.
Action in the game crams in everything we love about Hong Kong New Wave
action films. From the fast crazy almost arcade car chases and foot
chases, to the bone crunching kicks and punches of close and personal
combat. It even throws in the slow motion gun battles and car crashes
that John Woo brought to the film world and so many have emulated.
Sleeping Dogs delivers it all with panache.
The vehicles take some getting used to and can be hard to control if you
over compensate you will find yourself bashing into buildings a lot.
When you get down to hand to hand combat, the controls can be
deceptively simple. A few button mashes and your own your way, to really
master it though take a bit of timing and a certain rhythm to pull of
some of the more satisfying and brutal moves. There are some combos that
range from basic to more advanced moves. Fighting Includes counters,
grabs and environmental assisted finishers that are just down right over
the top at times. Grabbing someone and throwing them over a banister or
off the side of a building roof top is just some of the less elaborate
take downs. Add some pretty cool head slamming with refrigerator doors
among other things and you are in for some over the top fist and foot
flying fun. Again, I won’t spoil the story nor some of the eye popping
take downs you can do with the environment. Just explore away in combat
and get close to things in the scene. They turn red, indicating your
ability to implement it in some way. Then have at it and have some fun
with your enemy.
I found timing your counters just right is paramount, because if you try
a counter and there is nothing to counter, the character you are
controlling pauses for a couple of seconds. This leaves the character
vulnerable to an attack. So watch your timing.
For some reason the varied choices and the missions tend to not offer
much in regards to rewarding the player for their efforts. The game hand
holds a lot and points the way more often than not on what to do next.
Now the nerve biting story and action packed adventure is not the only
offering here. Side missions lend some whimsical comic relief to the
game. Including illegal street racing, gambling on cock fights, or and
here is the comical part, some Karaoke. Yes, our hero can try his hand
at a kind of mini game of Karaoke. Trying your best to match pitch, want
some real fun and hear what a beer induced Karaoke night is like?
Mismatch the pitch and listen to the fun.
Sound and music provide enough punch to deliver the game to an enjoyable
level. Sound not only in the expected things but also the basic
environmental sounds most people may not even think of in a game. Like
the city life going on around you, all well done.
Voice acting is exceptionally good here from all of the actors. From the
well-known to the supporting crew, all give spectacular performances.
The game is true to the source material it brings to the table. It’s not
a game about kindergarten. It’s a game about Cops and Criminals. So
there is violence. Is it as they say gratuitous? I don’t feel that
anything happens in the game that is not part of the story. It deals
with characters that at times are in deep dark places. Bad things happen
in deep dark places weather someone that does not butter their own bread
wants to admit it or not. Sleeping Dogs is a tough adventure into the
dark side of life. It stares into the darkness and finds something
Have fun, play games