Review: Sleeping Dogs
There’s a lot to love about Sleeping Dogs if you loved open-world games from the previous generation of consoles. Everything feels real arcadey from driving around in various cars to the ridiculous shooting mechanics. In our day and age, games strive to be realistic to a degree. Realistic settings with realistic graphics and faux-realistic shooting. Sleeping Dogs puts everything about open-world gaming into a blender with settings set to “fun”.
Our Asian protagonist is undercover detective known as Wei Chen. You wouldn’t know he’s an undercover cop if you skipped the cutscenes, with all the killing and hustling. He’s just that good. Triads are running things in Hong Kong so the police department sends street-smart Wei into the underbelly of a notorious gang to bust it up. Wei is straight out of a John Woo film. He’s smooth with his words, almost untouchable, and great and punching people out if they don’t get out of his way.
The hand-to-hand combat in the game is similar to the insanely good Batman: Arkham Asylum/City “Freeflow” system. You’ll spend time watching your enemy and figuring out if a counter move, grab, or strike is the way to win the battle. Much like the Batman games, the combat system is a lot more rewarding than just shooting off sub-machine guns. Thankfully you’ll be practicing martial arts on enemies more than unloading magazine clips.
If you’re not beating up bad guys, you’ll spend a lot of time driving. The driving is not realistic at all, which is nice. It’s fast and at times, pretty furious. And to explain how fast, non-realistic, and furious it gets, let me explain about how you can jump out of your vehicle to jump onto another so you can high-jack it going down a freeway. It’s the summer action flick in video game form.
There’s a ton of customization in the game for your character. Sadly, there’s nothing you can do about your vehicle getting a tune-up. Changing outfits will give Wei a bonus to leveling up his reputation for the police department, randoms, or the Triads. You unlock suits naturally as you play but most of them you’ll go to the market to purchase. And there’s quit a few costumes.
If combat and driving like a bat out of hell isn’t your thing, then maybe you’d like to place your bets on cock fighting? Yes, good ol’ animal abuse cock fighting. Two chickens with metal claws tearing each other up. Before you decide against the game and cry about virtual chickens being killed through abuse, remember this game also features you killing humans. So pick your battles, young one.
Much like other open-world games, there’s a lot of side things to do in virtual Hong Kong. You like singing? Play some Karaoke Hero in the club. You like being a gangster? Go join the local clubs I can’t talk about. Or how about just car jack for people. It’s all good since you’ve got the badge.
The map is huge and I typically was lost looking for things in it. Don’t worry though. You can enable waypoints on the fly like any modern open-world game. But after 25 hours of gameplay, I don’t even think I’ve seen all there is to see. I like this because it gives me more opportunity to go back and play after I’ve already beaten it. I’m an explorer.
Graphics are nice and I never noticed frame-rate dips in either the PlayStation 3 or PC version. It’s a very beautiful game on any format with great textures and colors. Yes, colors. The game isn’t near as muted as Grand Theft Auto IV. The character models aren’t the best, but they certainly aren’t anything to really complain about.
Need something to complain about? There is a lot of DLC which I’m not really for. But it’s nothing that builds onto the story in a way that ruins the main game. You’re getting a complete package if you just buy the core game. That’s something we can all respect. While I really don’t have a lot to complain about, I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect game. The adrenaline rush you get runs a bit dry after you beat the main story. You’ll still want to cruise around and do stuff, but it loses a lot of it’s sparkle after the missions end.