Game Review: Sleeping Dogs
Release: August 14, 2012
Genre: Open world, Crime 3rd Person Action
Developer: United Front Games
Available Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox360
ESRB Rating: $59.99 USD
Sleeping Dogs is developer United Front Games vision of an open world Hong Kong, where the city never sleeps and danger is peering around every corner. In the venomous world of Sleeping Dogs we meet Wei Shen who is not like his criminal brethren. Having moved out of China to America at a young age his family hoped to escape the criminal underworld of the Yakuza. Many years have past since Shen left but he now returns China as a young man only to find himself once again intertwined in the same lifestyle that his family sought to escape so long ago. For Sheng and his old friends things may not be as they seem for inside their world of crime lies a sleeping dog.
Sleeping Dogs is an open world, action adventure, crime story that places players into the heart of a fictional Hong Kong. Similar to the GTA series gamer will explore the open world driving cars, doing side quest, story missions, and finding collectables to progress the storyline. Aside from the basic GTA structure Sleeping Dogs steps out into its own by diving deep into the lifestyle and bravado of a “true crime”, Kung-Fu action flick that stands the game out from most open world crime games of the past.
Most of Sleeping Dogs game play focuses on hand to hand combat. Players will spend hours into Sleeping Dogs world fighting hand-to-hand before they even pick up their first gun. The combat is deep and requires players to learn button patterns to pull of offensive attacks that are a mixed range of striking and grappling with cinematic flair. The environments lend themselves to the fray, as enemies can be smashed into phone booths, pushed into electrical boxes, and even cooked in a large oven! To keep the game play fresh Sheng will earn EXP as he completes tasks throughout the game that help him gain a more diverse variety of combat skills. These tasks are all story driven, and while the main plot is woven nicely in between the lesser quests, the smaller quests do justice to complement the main characters back-story. The story itself is enticing enough to keep players interested and the impressive list of actors lending their voices to the game kept me engaged. Sleeping Dogs does a good job at embracing some of the quirkiness found in Asian culture while not crossing that weird line and it is this style that actually helps the game along as opposed to the way some games like this in the past simply made me lose interest because there was zero familiarity and connection to the world I was playing in.
What impressed me while playing Sleeping Dogs is how far the developers were able to take their ideas past the GTA style cloned world that many have tried before. Not since playing an open world game like Red Dead have I had so much fun just exploring. Hong Kong is rendered beautifully and while not an exact replication of the streets of Hong Kong, I still felt invested and immersed into the world and story. The pacing and variety of things to do, collect, and explore are spread out enough to keep everything progressing at a pace where I did not feel I was not in control of my next move, I even had a few old school Shenmu thoughts now and then.
As with ‘all” open world games of this type the driving is what I felt to be the weakest. My only real differentiations between the vehicles I got in were slow speed and warp speed. Turning as any speed was a task and the E-brake stood for use “EVERY” time you turn. The other issue I had with this game was purely user error as I kept driving on the wrong side of the road. No matter how long I played the game I was the crazy American driving on the wrong side again.
Sleeping Dogs offers a lot in an open world game and the world it is set in is one that was fresh and inviting. The Martial Arts combat is done well and makes combat a joy and not a chore. It is finally nice to see a developer come into the open world crime genera with an idea that is not only fun and smart, but good enough to stand next to Rockstars games.
-Kung-Fu fighting done right
-Beautiful Hong Kong: Tons to explore
-Driving is meh, especially on wrong side of the road
-GTA has some competition finally
Final Score: 8 out of 10