Hong Kong would have been a good place to be a tourist if it wasn’t for all the Triads whose face I have to break. Sleeping Dogs put you in the shoes of undercover agent Wei Shen, and with him you will fight crime by doing it.
You start the game with an unsuccesful drug deal, and even though you have mad parkour skills, you still get caught by the police. It’s not a bad thing though because you meet an old friend in prison, who will be your ticket to entering the Triad. After your superior officer bails you out and your friend, Jackie Ma, you then get introduced to a Triad group headed by another childhood friend Winston Chu. It’s a lot bloodier and action-packed from then on out.
They say this game is just a clone of GTA, but I got to tell you it’s got enough stuff to be quite distinctive. For one, the combat is MUCH better in Sleeping Dogs than Grand Theft Auto because Martial Arts > Sloppy Punches and Kicks. Gun combat is also great, with slow-mo features a-la-Max Payne’s “Bullet Time” and a wide variety of firearms to choose from. Equipping different melee weapons also change your attack animations.
These improvements make the missions much more fun to carry out. Triad business is definitely hardcore as compared to the families that you meet in Liberty City, and you’ll regularly be surrounded by dozens of knife-wielding black belters or be caught in the middle of a bullet hell. Chases are fun especially with action hi-jacks, ramming with the touch of a button, and more. You can also participate in drag races, although the car physics aren’t quite realistic, which I actually think makes it more fun.
One more thing is the drug bust. There are various gang hangouts all over the place where drug deals are being made, and you can come in, kick their asses, hack the security cams, and catch the drug pusher.
By the way you have a cop score and a triad score that you can improve by doing missions for each group. You will be enjoying different benefits from each of them that will help you on the difficult missions ahead.
The tale of Sleeping Dogs is much more complicated and interesting, and one that I very thoroughly enjoyed. The story has got more twists than an average small intestine, and you may even shed a tear or two. I didn’t, because I’m a cowboy, and cowboys don’t cry.
The characters are also very memorable and fleshed out. Each of them have different vibes, and you’ll instantly know who to hate and trust except for a few unsuspected betrayals. I idolized Wei Shen: he is a saint to his friends and the devil to his foes. You even meet Lucy Liu in-game! The facial expressions may not be as great as in L.A. Noire, but you’ll appreciate the amazing voice acting and the great dialogue.
As for the visuals, I’d say that the environment feels great to look at and the rural and urban atmospheres are perfectly recreated. The food carts, the parks, the malls, the backstreets, they all feel right. The explorable area of Sleeping Dogs may not be as huge as in GTA 4, but it makes the areas feel more familiar and unique and it’s great for a lazy traveller like me. If we’re talking about graphical fidelity however, I’d say it’s not as pretty as it can be. There are a lot of rough edges for pretty much everything, and objects occassionally appear and disappear from view. I’m sure this pixel problem will be improved on the sequel though.
I remember the game’s soundtrack being nominated for Best Music on a game review site, I just forgot where (was it IGN or Gamespot?). I have no qualms with that though since I do enjoy what I hear on the radio while on my way to kill somebody. Wei Shen also has a good singing voice that you can hear at the karaoke bar. The sound effects for the gunfire, the vehicles, and even the ambient noise fit nicely and adds life to the game world.
I pretty much have nothing bad to say against this game except that the graphics isn’t the best and there are bugs and glitches that made it through QA. But the gameplay and story more than makes up for these things, proving Sleeping Dogs to be a great new IP that is just begging to be known to the masses. Hong Kong is a great place to be, except if you are a cop, which makes the place an executioner’s stage for you if you don’t have the skills and wits.