Sleeping Dogs Review

Sleeping Dogs Review

The year of 2012 is shaping up to be another fantastic year for video games. So far, it's featured the regular slew of big name franchises, but there's also been room for a few surprises to sneaking in every now. Sleeping Dogs is a game that was not really talked about in the months before its release, but now it's easy to say that the game will be a subject of a lot of chatter because of the level of quality that the final product was able to deliver.

Sleeping Dogs, developed by United Front Games, was originally slated to come out under the name True Crime: Hong Kong. However in its initial development phase it was intended to be a brand new IP. During its development life-cycle, Activision, due to various reasons, decided to drop the game. This eventually led Square Enix to come in and pick up the project. They then chose to ditch True Crime and publish the game under the name Sleeping Dogs.

Still set in Hong Kong, Sleeping Dogs chose quite an exotic location for the game to take place in. Hong Kong is often seen a mash up of Eastern and Western cultures and that on its own gives the game a setting that is distinctively different from other open-world games. Sleeping Dogs' version of Hong Kong feels like a faithful recreation of the city. The Streets, the buildings, and the people draw an accurate representation of what Hong Kong is supposed to be like. Not only is that achieved by the high attention to detail that the visuals of the game sport, but the sounds of the game do an amazing job of bringing the city to life. United Front Games seemed to have put a lot of effort in creating a living breathing version of Hong Kong, and they managed to do so with immense success.

While a lot of open-world games tend to put the narrative on the backburner, Sleeping Dogs completely disperses that stereotype by bringing it right to the forefront. Inspired by popular Hong Kong Cinema films such as Infernal Affairs and The Election, Sleeping Dogs' story is one of the most engrossing in recent memory. The main character of the game, Wei Shen, is an undercover cop on a mission to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad in Hong Kong. Shen is surrounded by a number of supporting characters that do a great job of fledging out the story and keeping the plot interesting. Initially you might write off the game's characters as typical heroes or villains, but soon enough you realize that the characters in Sleeping Dogs have a lot more depth to them compared to a lot of titles out there.

Combat in Sleeping Dogs is definitely one of the main highlights of the game. While other open-world titles often choose to make gunplay the main focus of combat, Sleeping Dogs stays true to its setting by emphasizing hand to hand combat instead - specifically Wing Chun. Combat in Sleeping Dogs closely resembles the quick and fluid system of Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, and is heads and shoulders above any combat system in an open-world game. Sleeping Dogs also allows for brutal environmental kills which include things like smashing a guy's face into an air conditioner or locking up an enemy to rot inside a dumpster. Those environmental kills add tons of satisfaction to an already excellent combat system which keeps gameplay both entertaining and rewarding.

Guns do play a part in Sleeping Dogs' gameplay, but they don't have as huge of a role as in say the Grand Theft Auto series. This is mainly due to the game being set in Hong Kong where guns are uncommon and are only used as some sort of last measure to finish off the job. The game has a cover-system that although is good, does not feel as solid as what dedicated 3rd person-shooter might off. Sleeping Dogs also features Bullet Time which triggers once you jump over an obstacle from cover. Once Bullet time is active, everything is slowed down to allow for more accurate and precise shooting. All in all gunplay in the game is good enough to complement the fantastic hand to hand combat of the game, but does not shine as one of Sleeping Dogs' strong points.


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