Sleeping Dogs Review
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Sleeping Dogs offers one of the strongest narratives in recent gaming and drags you through the gritty streets of Hong Kong's mob underworld in the process. Its gameplay doesn't offer many new ideas, but it delivers what it promises. Namely, an engaging story, fun combat, slick driving, and solid gameplay.
- Terrific narrative and characters
- Solid gameplay elements
- Beautiful presentation
- Minor bugs
- Some boring missions
- Melee combat offers little challenge
(continued from previous page) ...plays a lot like GTA, and it’s hard to ignore the overly similar gameplay elements. For example, you can hijack any vehicle and spend hours driving through Hong Kong, running over pedestrians in the process. And, just like GTA, the shooting mechanics aren’t anything special. That’s not to say they are bad, they are just basic. The only thing remotely special is the ability to enter slow motion, similar to that in Max Payne.
Wei Shen is extremely nimble and he has the ability to free run, similar to the Assassin’s Creed series. However, this doesn’t always work so well. Free running is tied to a single button and on-screen prompts allow you to run up small walls or jump over objects. Since it’s the same button as the free run, it can take some time to get used to this mix of holding the button, then tapping it when prompted, then holding it again to continue running.
Hong Kong offers an absolute playground for would-be gangsters. The underbelly of society is gross and violent, but they protect each other like family. These relationships Shen builds with his gangster family distorts his overall mission as he gets far too close to the source. But the city is an absolutely breathtaking setting for the narrative. The streets come alive with merchants selling wares, tourists, businessmen, trucks carrying chickens, the elegant downtown, the scenic hillside temples, and the sprawling dock area. It’s gritty and uninviting at first, but it eventually grows on you and feels like home—after all, it is Shen’s original stomping grounds.
The characters help bring the city and the story to life and add a layer of believability. One moment you’re working with the brilliantly casted police detective—bosses that tie your hands through the firm grip of the law—and another moment your helping your mob brothers eliminate rival gangs. The big players in the game offer great variety. Within the police department there are those on your side, and others that seem to stab you in the back. The same rings true in the mob. You’ll take some brothers under your wing, ring out some personal anguish on rival gangsters, and lie your way to reach the heads of the organizations. The voice acting is some of the best in recent history. Will Yung Lee voices Shen’s character, and a slew of familiar names, like Emma Stone and Tom Wilkinson, round out the cast. Some of the lip sync animations are a bit off, but overall character development and voicing are extremely strong.
Missions are divided between the main narrative, subplots, police reports, and tons of side quests. Some main quests are extremely strong, including long gun battles in elaborate locations, heavily-story driven tasks of revenge, and gory subplots to delve deeper into Shen’s past. But others fall quite flat, including some drive-the-hot-girls-around-town missions. Even some of the later missions are forgettable. But, the strongest moments in the game are anything but forgettable. This is absolutely a water cooler game, something you’ll want to discuss with friends (I know I can’t wait to talk about it when others get a chance to play). And thanks to collectibles, side missions, police reports, and an online leaderboard system, there is plenty to do outside the campaign and reasons to revisit in the future.
While Sleeping Dogs is an extremely rich experience, there are a few flaws that detract from the overall solid game. Just like every game this size, there are bugs. Some are relatively minor, like Shen getting stuck on the environment when free running, while others are simply laughable—like when cars randomly crash and flicker in the distance. There are some basic graphic issues with flickering shadows, but the overall bug issues are relatively minor.
Chances are Sleeping Dogs wasn’t on your radar, but it definitely deserves your time. If you are at all drawn to open-world games, strong narratives, interesting characters, mob games, driving, and lengthy sidequests and sub-missions you’ll easily spend weeks upon weeks working your way through the streets of Hong Kong. While it doesn’t add much new to any of its older, more well established brothers, it does refine a number of gameplay elements. Whether you are leaping from a speeding vehicle onto an enemy’s car, or spending skills points to upgrade ... (continued on next page)