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Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Developer: United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix Classification: MA15+
Release Date:
16th August 2012
Sleeping Dogs

Genre: Action
Developer: United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Classification: MA15+
Release Date:
16th August 2012
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Sleeping Dogs Review
Review By @ 03:04am 15/08/12
PC
It took Saints Row three iterations to finally step out from beneath the shadow of Grand Theft Auto and occupy its own space, especially in terms of humour up against GTA IV’s much more serious slant. Sleeping Dogs, technically the third in the True Crime series but rebranded by new publishers Square Enix, has no such aspirations, choosing instead to stand proudly with a GTA flag wrapped around its shoulders. It is GTA IV crossed with Stranglehold. It is Burnout melded with Need for Speed. The Departed handcuffed to Arkham Asylum. It contains all the open world bells and whistles we expect, from cell phones to side missions to customised clothing and hidden collectibles, all eddying about within the large explorable city of Hong Kong.

From the opening scene – which sees you running to escape arrest, ducking and weaving around pesky bystanders and vaulting over objects with free-running aplomb – the story draws you in with fantastic writing delivered via excellent vocal performances. You play as Wei Shen, a police officer deeply undercover in Hong Kong’s underground, so deep that only a few officials in the police department know that you are a cop. It’s nothing new as far as stories go but when it comes to gameplay this tug and pull between the law and criminal necessity offers deep internal and external conflict. For example, each mission grades you in relation to how much extra damage and violence you undertake, reducing how much Cop XP you get if you’re a destructive driver and unconcerned with the accidental murder of innocents.



The “two worlds” storyline offers Wei multiple ways to progress. Complete missions for triad gangs and you’ll gain points in the Triad tree, where upgrades such as damage bonus, melee weapon resistance and counter recovery are up for auction. Cop upgrades, on the other hand, endow Wei with helpful modifications such as fast disarm, Slim Jim (quickly break into cars), increased vehicle ramming damage and the police trunk key (unlock police car trunks to get weapons). A third levelling tier comes in the form of Face Advantages. Your Face level reflects your propensity to stop and talk to people in the city, helping them with side missions (symbolised in game by yellow talk icons). Face unlocks include increased intimidation of enemies, stronger effects from food and drink (each thing you consume offers temporary buffs), vehicle discounts, melee disarming and the ability to summon a car valet any time you like.

Hong Kong is realised in gorgeous detail, especially at night during rain, its array of tall buildings, windows, balconies and layered modifications standing witness to every thing you do. After a handful of training missions, the city is yours to explore, traversal of the large space made intuitive due to its GTA leanings. Things are slightly different, though. It can’t be understated how strange it feels to play an open world game where the traffic drives on the left hand side of the road, even though we do so in Australia in real life. Also, the radio stations on offer as you drive aren’t pumping out Western hits. Instead, your wheel time is accompanied by a mix of Western and Eastern beats, instruments and vocals. Incidental dialogue from pedestrians deepens the fiction, with some speaking in English (owing to the city’s colonial history) and others in Cantonese.

Much has been said about Sleeping Dogs’ combat system and I have to say that I’m usually not a fan of hand-to-hand combat. Here, a mixture of Assassin’s Creed and Arkham Asylum has been combined, resulting in some really fun moments. Attacks are mostly linked to the X button (even if playing on PC, the offered compatibility with a 360 controller is highly worthwhile), with heavy attacks enacted when you hold the button in. Counters are mapped to Y, with enemy attacks signposted by their bodies glowing with a red outline.



The timing window for counters is quite wide, but spamming Y does not work, which is a step up from Assassin’s Creed. The most enjoyable possibilities open up when you grab a goon (by pressing B). Once you have them by the scruff, objects in the environment glow red, indicating a nasty surprise for your head-locked opponent. Sometimes these are as harmless as throwing them in a dumpster, but several lethal options include shoving their heads in spinning metal fans and (my favourite) throwing them over high railings.

Missions are drawn from the predictable open world handbook, comprised of the usual fetch quests, fights and chases, but it’s all thrilling due to the aforementioned city detail and the way in which each stage of gameplay – whether driving or on foot – has its own extra elements. During vehicle sections, you’ll often come up against enemy cars and vans, as well as the police. The added ability to shunt in a direction to run them off the road adds a Burnout flavour to take-downs. On foot chase sequences are a bit like LA Noire chases with added hurdles, as Wei leaps over benches and store counters, climbs over fences and pulls himself up ledges, all requiring timed button presses to do so smoothly.

Chases usually end in combat stand-offs with five or six goons, yet the wave-like regularity of forced combat never feels tired due to the robust range of options available to you. In fact, when firearms enter into the picture, it’s almost a disappointment, although the game is designed to take their implementation into account. Whereas GTA IV and its clones would see you crouching behind cover to take pot shots at enemies, Sleeping Dogs is designed with Wei’s physicality in mind, so that you are encouraged to leap over cover and disarm opponents, shooting on the go in smooth, confident lines as time slows down to compensate for your exposed situation.



Later missions welcome firearms into the fold, adding further complication to the kinds of situations Wei encounters. It’s not uncommon for a mission to start with a shootout, followed by a chase, then taking someone hostage, shooting your way out of that, and then a vehicle chase with Wei able to shoot from his car and leap onto moving vehicles to hijack them, finally bringing your quarry to justice. Each main mission exemplifies how a collection of gameplay fibres can be deftly woven into exhilarating experiences.

Sleeping Dogs’ blender like approach to design could have so easily faltered, but it doesn’t. The mix is just right. It doesn’t overstep its influences but it doesn’t need to. The Hong Kong setting and Wei’s struggle to maintain both of his competing personas create a compelling world. The driving model is superb, offering exact control whether on a bike, speeding in a racing car or tailing a suspect in a chicken truck. The combat is fluid and fun, with many valid options available at any time.

It’s amazing to think that this game was almost cancelled and cast aside due to budget costs and development delays. We don’t know how much of what is now Sleeping Dogs (it began life as True Crime: Hong Kong) was handed over to Square Enix, and perhaps we never will, but it would have been criminal for a game of this calibre to slip between the cracks. It is the perfect open world fix in the lead up to GTA V and full credit to United Front Games and Square Enix London for crafting this entertaining, engrossing and deeply impressive title.
What we liked
  • Excellent script and voice acting
  • Hong Kong is wonderfully realised and full of detail
  • Deep fighting system that connects with all other systems
  • Smooth and responsive driving model
  • Multi-layered missions that play to the game’s strengths
What we didn't like
  • Apart from the fighting system it doesn’t have much that is unique
  • The camera sometimes fails to catch up with the action
  • More interior locations around the city would have been nice
  • Animations and facial movements are a bit stiff
More
We gave it:
9.0
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
TiT
Posted 08:36am 15/8/12
change the graphics to extreme and having graphic issues... Downloading the free High res DLC pack its another 3gb download now waiting for that to finish
Eorl
Posted 08:58am 15/8/12
Loving it so far, the cast is quite heavy with big names and just looks gorgeous on a GTX570. The controls actually work really well on PC, and it has been optimised with great performance. The combat system is amazing, so much fun smashing people into walls, and feels so responsive compared to Assassins Creed. Highly recommend.
TiT
Posted 09:59am 15/8/12
Have to agree with Eorl! Installed the the high texture DLC and it looks beautiful no issues on my old Quad core with 670gtx video card all on high and looks beautiful 100x better then GTA 4 and fighting system is really good.
Reverend Evil
Posted 11:02am 15/8/12
Twas just over at the steam forums for this and someone said that the arrow keys can't be mapped out for the keyboard. If that's the case I won't be getting this even though it does look good. Maybe a patch will come out to fix it this. Also be interested to know what other keys they've made un-bindable. It's a pity that in 2012 a developer can't make use of the whole keyboard. hmm
ravn0s
Posted 11:17am 15/8/12
people still use the arrow keys?
DeadlyDav0
Posted 11:40am 15/8/12
Yeah, dunno why people would want arrow keys. Maybe for flying if thats part of the game? Im sure a patch will fix that as i dont see why some keys would be un-bindable.
BladeRunner
Posted 01:35pm 15/8/12
Arrow keys...to move the player character?? That's no good, Will have to see if there are any INI files to edit to use WASD.
ravn0s
Posted 01:41pm 15/8/12
Arrow keys...to move the player character?? That's no good, Will have to see if there are any INI files to edit to use WASD.


that's not the problem. the problem is they want to remap the movement keys (wasd) to the arrow keys but can't.

last edited by ravn0s at 13:41:22 15/Aug/12
DM
Posted 06:36pm 15/8/12
Got a 9, sounded good. Bought it and the VERY FIRST GOD DAMN MISSION bugs for me and the guy im supposed to follow stops moving. I wait, cops catch up and arrest me. Happens every time I try.

EDIT - Turns out just keep running and things continue though he stops moving.

last edited by DM at 18:36:26 15/Aug/12
Crakaveli
Posted 08:19pm 15/8/12
people still use the arrow keys?
Left handed people do.
Snakeman
Posted 08:21pm 15/8/12
^^^ I'm right handed and ever since doom I have used the numpad and aimed with the mouse in my left.
d^
Posted 08:35pm 15/8/12
Is there any desolate and out of the city locations in the game? One thing that was really appealing about GTA: SA was the countryside and some of the smaller areas.
TufNuT
Posted 11:38pm 15/8/12
For those interested TotalBiscuit did a hour long vid on this, if you are thinking about buying the game might be worth watching.
DeadlyDav0
Posted 06:44am 16/8/12
Left handed people do.

Nah, lefties should use numpad as crak mentioned. Id even consider using OKL: as its nearly on the opposite side of WASD and still allows easy access to space, shift, control.
eski
Posted 09:57am 16/8/12
Got a 9, sounded good. Bought it and the VERY FIRST GOD DAMN MISSION bugs for me and the guy im supposed to follow stops moving. I wait, cops catch up and arrest me. Happens every time I try.

EDIT - Turns out just keep running and things continue though he stops moving. last edited by DM at 18:36:26 15/Aug/12


Thats pretty funny, I saw the same bug in previews from a few weeks back, and they still havent patched it. Seeing that made me decide not to buy it.
Eorl
Posted 10:24am 16/8/12
Thats pretty funny, I saw the same bug in previews from a few weeks back, and they still havent patched it. Seeing that made me decide not to buy it.
Shame that turned you off buying it, it really is a great title. The amount of freedom is something I love the most in this game, you never feel like you HAVE to go somewhere to further the story or else, it's all inter-woven. Also one of my favourite side missions was a woman asked me to check her out and give her opinion on how her pants looked. Next minute some guy rams into me and steals my wallet, had to chase him down and throw him off a ledge, was hilarious and fun.
TiT
Posted 12:06pm 16/8/12
man i suck but how do u enter and exit cars
Eorl
Posted 12:14pm 16/8/12
man i suck but how do u enter and exit cars

Right click, bit weird but get use to it. Also, holding someone's face into steel fan blades is just gruesome.
Tanaka Khan
Posted 04:39pm 16/8/12
I got all the DLC packs but I don't seem to have got the points for them.

Never mind, just finished a quest and got them.
DM
Posted 04:43pm 16/8/12
I like that the combat has so much going for it with it being like Arkham meets AC. Being able to wall run/kick people is so much fun and even when dealing with the cops, pressing space at the right moment when they try to arrest you does this funky jackie chanesque reversal move where sometimes you even take their gun away from then. I managed to lift a coppers gun, shoot 3 of them and then guys with machine guns showed up to deal with me. They don't f*** around in hong kong lol.
Eorl
Posted 07:50pm 16/8/12
Yeah the combat is very satisfying, and seems to vary in each fight which is what I really like. The use of environment is also really nice, something of a change to most GTA style sandbox games.
TiT
Posted 08:05pm 16/8/12
liking it but some of the mission are pretty hard which is good
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