The Backlog Volume # 14 – Sleeping Dogs
Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PC
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: United Front Games, Square Enix London Studios
Genre(s): Open World, Action-Adventure
Released: August 14, 2012
ESRB Rating: M – Mature
Hello all and welcome back to another installment of The Backlog. You know, when I first started these, I was looking at some blasts, or in some cases some flops, from the past. Here lately, I’ve been showcasing the type of games that have caused my wall of shame to grow unchecked for several years. Enough of the bullshitting, time to get down to business.
August 14th was a busy day in the US, with the release of both Darksiders 2 (reviewed by our own Gary Smith) and Sleeping Dogs, which you are reading right now obviously. Sleeping Dogs had been in the works for a couple years, first as an original title, then being proclaimed as a return to the True Crime series as True Crime: Hong Kong. Activision ended up canceling the title due to money and delays in 2011. Luckily for us though, Square Enix purchased the publishing rights and thus we now have Sleeping Dogs to enjoy. Thank all that is good and holy in the world for Square Enix.
The game opens with a couple of Hong Kong cops watching some surveillance televisions in a small room or a van somewhere nearby to the action. A drug deal is about to go down, but as you might expect, shit hits the fan early as one of the individuals in this deal is apparently a psychopath and proceeds to start hacking up some dude with a meat cleaver. Nearby cops get involved and the chase is on. You begin running through the market, following your buddy (not the nut job mind you) as you both run for your freedom. This basically serves as a mini-tutorial to running, jumping, climbing, and avoiding obstacles.
You eventually run through a door into a wall of cops and are arrested and thrown in jail. While in the cell, we find out that we are controlling Wei Shen. Through interactions with his old friend Jackie that just happens to be residing in the same holding cell (what a coincidence), we find out that Wei and Jackie were friends years ago when they were boys, before Wei moved to America.
Eventually Jackie is called for his release and the two are separated. Next thing we know, Wei is being interrogated, during which another cop enters the room and we find out that Wei is actually an undercover cop with the task of infiltrating the Sun On Yee Triad gang. Naturally violence and money shall follow us for the rest of the game.
As luck would have it, our good friend Jackie is in with the Sun On Yee, so he gets Wei on board. Soon after the introduction, we go into the basic combat tutorial, which basically involves mashing the X button (Xbox 360) and pressing the B button to grapple. Naturally, the second in command of this faction of the Sun On Yee does not trust Wei, and dispatches his goons to attack you and basically serve as cannon fodder.
More moves can be learned later through upgrades and completing tasks. At this early stage though, basic punches and kicks will suffice. There are also some environmental interactions that can be done while in a grapple, such as throwing someone in a dumpster or slamming their head into the bathroom sink that are kind of fun.
Obviously, you start out pretty low in the Sun On Yee and have to work your way up. With this in mind, there are three meters to build up and get upgrades from, Face, Cop, and Triad. The Face meter builds up through things like fighting and beating multiple enemies at once and doing favors in the city. The Cop meter fills up by being a good cop and doing cop missions. You can actually lose cop points by destroying property and hitting other cars while you’re driving, so you have to be careful sometimes, which is hard during a vehicle chase. Lastly, and like the Cop meter you can file this one under ‘duh’, you build your Triad meter by doing Triad missions.
In addition to these meters, there are shrines, lock boxes, and statues hidden throughout the city. Finding and praying at five shrines will increase your overall health by 10%. Lock boxes are an easy way to find some cash, and some contain other items like additional clothing items. Some are out in the open, others are hidden in an alley, and some are guarded by thugs that have to be beaten before opening. There are also some jade statues hidden throughout Hong Kong that will reward you with one new combat move to learn at the dojo.
This really is a fantastic game. It has a good main story, along with many, many side missions that are both interesting, challenging, and tell good stories of their own. Always rewarding to play a game that offers you quality in every aspect of the offering, makes you want to keep coming back and get that full completion. And that can only help if you like many, including myself, and consider yourself to be an achievement whore…or achievement junkie, whichever you prefer to go by.
I can not say enough how much fun this game is. There are a couple of glitches with the AI at some points, so you might have to restart a mission or two, but I would expect those to be patched in the near future. I have not encountered them myself yet, but I have talked to people that have. Obviously it’s an annoyance, but it does not seem to hinder the overall enjoyment of the game too much.
With that in mind, I give this game a 9.0 overall. At this point in the year, Sleeping Dogs is the best game I have played this year. I really enjoyed Spec Ops: The Line and Ghost Recon Future Soldier, but Sleeping Dogs is solidly above both of them in my non-expert opinion. So do yourself a favor and definitely check this out. Play the demo if you’re still unsure, but if you like open world games, I highly doubt this will leave you disappointed. Until next time, Game On folks.