Written by Twisted Ideas
Last week the Definitive Edition of Sleeping Dogs were released on Playstation 4 and Xbox One. I think now is as good as time as any to talk about this somewhat overlooked sandbox game which can cheaply be found on last generation consoles.
Developer: United Front Games, Square-Enix London
Publishers: Square-Enix, Bandai Namco Games
Platforms: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Steam, Xbox 360, Xbox One
What is it?
Sleeping Dogs stars Wei Shen, an undercover Chinese American Cop returning to Hong Kong. Wei Shen is tasked to infiltrate the Triad through his previous affiliations with gangs in his youth. Shen has to carefully tread the line of proving his loyalty to divert suspicion from his time away from Hong Kong becoming an officer and rising up within the Triad without being swallowed up in the life of crime and family.
The most featured gameplay element is the hand to hand combat. Hong Kong is a country where firearms are rarely seen. This plays into Shen’s use of martial arts. The combat has been compared to the likes of the Arkham games but it’s more similar to the Yakuza games. It’s a free-flow system where you enemies will surround you and you can effectively fight off and defend yourself regardless. The major difference in the two systems is the ability to pick up knives, poles, bats, etc, grapple and use your environment to deal with enemies. You can learn new combat skills by finding jade statues hidden throughout the game. Depending on your actions during missions, you earn experience in three categories which unlocks new abilities
Wei Shen: Cop, gang member, butcher.
There are side quests and activities throughout the city which you can participate in. There are several cars, trucks, and bikes that you can buy or steal and use to race for cash. Crimes are rampant which you can choose to stop. You can customize your entire wardrobe take women on dates who have the uncanny ability to disappear after you hook up with them.
As a sandbox, this version of Hong Kong is much smaller in scale than other games in its genre. Consequently this compact level design allows for to have a lively feel. Stores and landmarks are always nearby. The city’s streets feel more recognizable and used more often than large sandbox games. The city very is populated and landmarks are accurately recreated. Sleeping Dogs gets a good feel of Asian Culture without feeling pandering or distasteful. The city is busy, especially the Asian market and Cantonese is used as much as possible to compound this point.
Why should you get it?
Sleeping dogs is a well made game that deserved more attention than some more recent sandbox games. It’s another game about crime but unlike GTA where they bring in the Russian, Italian, etc crime elements to American. Having Sleeping Dogs set in Hong Kong is a good representation of that culture without making it feel stereotypical. The story does feel familiar in ways but Shen is and his dilemmas throughout the game carries you through. The large amount of focus on the hand to hand combat also give the game a unique feel from the typical firefights of other sandboxes. I recommend the definitive edition for new players with next-gen consoles but if you still have and PS3, Xbox or if your PC can handle it then Sleeping Dogs is a game to look out for.