‘Sleeping Dogs’ Review
The Good:Immersive storyline, interactive city & free flowing martial arts.
The Bad:Its not the be all & end all, but some may have liked multiplayer.
STORY You are Detective ‘Wei Shen’ of the San Francisco Police Department and you have been assigned to go undercover to bring down the ‘Triads’ in the mean streets of ‘Hong Kong’. What seemed to be a one way mission soon becomes a tough choice of split loyalties. On one hand, ‘Wei’ is a loyal [...]
You are Detective ‘Wei Shen’ of the San Francisco Police Department and you have been assigned to go undercover to bring down the ‘Triads’ in the mean streets of ‘Hong Kong’. What seemed to be a one way mission soon becomes a tough choice of split loyalties. On one hand, ‘Wei’ is a loyal cop who always wants to see his job through, but then on the other hand he makes friends and relationships that he did not comprehend, making for some very tough choices. Will ‘Wei’ be able to keep the balance of his oath to being a police officer and bring down the Triad gang? Or will he lose his way and fall into the clutches of the Triads and the sinful influences of Honk Kong? That my friend is all down to you, you will make Wei’s tough choices and you will decide his fate. What path will you take?
From the offset, it’s clear to see ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is a game with a big budget and this shines through with its visuals. The character animation is top notch, from the lip sync, facial animation to the living and breathing streets of Hong Kong. So many games in recent times can look the part, but for some reason, so many games get the lip sync all wrong, thankfully this is not the case with ‘Sleeping Dogs’. Something so seemingly small, can have such a big impact on the games immersion, where you have characters that look, breath and talk so realistically, it all plays its part in sucking you into the games believability. In many ways, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is just like watching a ‘John Woo’ ‘Hard Boiled’ movie and it wouldn’t surprise me if ‘Sleeping Dogs’ made its way to the silver screen at some point in the future.
But one of, if not the biggest character in ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is the Hong Kong playground, the city is huge and you can literally get lost for hours on end, just by exploring. The city is full of life, people walking, talking, driving, selling and buying; it’s as if the city is a life of its own and that people are going about their normal everyday duties. If ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Shenmue’ decided to make babies, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ would be their offspring. Considering ‘Sleeping Dogs’ sheer size and depth, it is one of the more impressive looking games in its genre without a doubt.
Just like other games in this particular genre, such as your GTA’s and Saints Row, there is so much to see and do: being free to explore and act how you want to act is a big appeal. But what sets ‘Sleeping Dogs’ apart from its competitors is that rather than concentrating on guns and explosions (which Sleeping Dogs does have); hand to hand combat is ‘Sleeping Dogs’ main focus. This really does give Sleeping Dogs its own identity and feels as if you are a part of your own martial arts movie. You can punch and kick your way about town, but there is some skill required if you are going to take on the big guns. Combo’s and counter attacks play a big part in ‘Sleeping Dogs’ and in some ways, is very similar to the ‘Batman Arkham’ series and the more recent ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ in terms of combat. But don’t worry, it’s not a carbon clone, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ certainly has its own unique feel, especially when it comes to the interactive environments that finish off your enemy in a therapeutic fashion. Also speaking of combat and combos, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ has a feature called the ‘Face Meter’. The ‘Face Meter’ can be activated by landing a successful series of combos and when that bad boy reaches its boils, prepare to kick some candy ass!
You can also upgrade your martial arts skills and learn some new non martial art moves along the way too. This can be done by earning XP, which can then be spent on skill-tree like system. But you can choose from a ‘Cop’ or ‘Triad’ upgrade system, obviously one being good and the other bad, much like the multiple choice system that affects your storyline (which I’ll get on to later). Choosing from either the ‘Cop’ or ‘Triad’ move sets, will earn you reputation XP for either organisation. XP can not only be earned from combat situations and certain choices you make, but you will earn XP from completing main storyline quests, as well as side quests. What XP you will earn, will all depend on whether you make good or bad choices. This XP system not only affects the way in which ‘Wei’ will fight, but your choices will also affect the storyline too, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is pretty much as multi layered as you can get in its genre.
But if you not completely satisfied with ‘Wei’ look, you can also pimp up his image. Much like the XP system, you can earn in game currency, this can then be used to purchase clothes, vehicles, household gear and so much more. But looking good is not the only perk to pimping up ‘Wei’ as many of the items available to purchase will give you certain XP boosts in a wide range of categories, similar to that of RPG’s such as ‘The Elders Scrolls’ and ‘Mass Effect’ games.
‘Sleeping Dogs’ really is a huge game, you have a large open world city that you are free to explore, main quests, side quests and a multi layered multiple choice system that not only is determined by certain story driven choices that you make, but also on how you decide to whoop somebody’s ass. But there is one choice that will remain the same, are you going to be a ‘Good’ Cop or ‘Bad’ Cop? And then when you’ve finished ‘Sleeping Dogs for the first time, play it through again making different choices, potentially giving ‘Sleeping Dogs’ a huge amount of replay value.
The voice casting to ‘Sleeping Dogs’ really is top notch and like I said in a previous section, it really is like watching a movie at times, apart from its you that makes the decisions. ‘Wei Shen’ really is a believable character and you care about the decisions that are made and a big part of this bond is down to the quality voice acting. If the voice acting was half hearted and had about as much charisma as a soggy ‘Chesney Hawkes’ cardboard cut out floating in a duck pond, you really wouldn’t care about the main character, that’s how much of a vital role that quality voice acting plays in today’s generation of video games.
On top of that, you have your standard sound effects that are very well done, from the prrrrr of a car engine, the pow of a punch to the face and the kaboom of an over the top explosion, it really is Hollywood blockbuster quality stuff. Also, borrowing from the mighty ‘GTA’ franchise (and yes I know this isn’t the only borrowed element), but you also have an interactive radio station for when cruising around the streets of Hong Kong and just like in ‘GTA’, I found myself intently listening to the radio station hosts as I go for my ‘Sleeping Dogs’ Sunday drive.
‘Sleeping Dogs’ is huge, like other games in its particular genre, there is so much to do, other then of course the main story based campaign. You can spend so much time just driving around the virtual Honk Kong, listening to the radio station, hunting down the hidden items, participating in the side quests, pimping up ‘Wei’ and his home and even indulging in some classic karaoke. There really is loads that you can do in ‘Sleeping Dogs, you could almost right its own article just based on all the in game content.
Let’s put it this way, you certainly won’t be flying through ‘Sleeping Dogs’ in a hurry and when you’ve finished with the campaign, you may even want to play it through again playing a good cop or bad cop (depending on how you behaved on your first playthrough). Then of course, if you’re an achievement junkie (like me), then that will add even more life to an already rich and fulfilling game.
Every now again, you come across that game that you never really took notice of pre release and sometimes (not all the time as I’ve often found out), you come across a game that you took a gamble on, that takes you completely by surprise and ‘Sleeping Dogs’ was one of those games. I’ve always been a big fan of the ‘GTA’ franchise, ever since ‘GTA3’ and there have been many copy cats over the years and pretty much 99.9% of the time, I’ve turned my nose up. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is obviously heavily influenced by the great ‘GTA’, but I did not turn my nose up to this one. I soon found myself transfixed with the virtual Hong Kong city and being a fan of ‘Bruce Lee’ and ‘Jet Li’ movies, the martial arts was the icing on the cake.
If you’re a fan of the ‘GTA’ franchise or ‘martial arts’ in general and you’re looking for that stop gap until ‘GTA5’ comes along, well ‘Sleeping Dogs’ is not your stop gap game, in fact it’s an awesome game on its own merit and it will stay in my collection long after ‘GTA5’ is released. I urge anyone like me , that doesn’t own a passport or that can’t afford a trip to Hong Kong or also like me, not having the ability to kung fu kick a donkey in the ass in an ass kicking contest, give ‘Sleeping Dogs’ ago and get lost in its immersive storyline and living, breathing Honk Kong.
‘Sleeping Dogs’ Review,