Monday, 28 March 2016

Sleeping Dogs Review - John Woo eat your heart out.

By Sam Coles:

For those who aren’t familiar with this game’s history, Sleeping Dogs was originally a sequel to the True Crime series simple titled True Crime: Hong Kong. However Activision felt that the game wouldn’t sell well and cancelled the project, it wasn’t until Square Enix picked the studio up and wanted them to carry on with the game, but of course they had to change the name of the game as Activision own the True Crime name. Sleeping Dogs was revealed and released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC at the end of August of 2012.

Sleeping Dogs takes place in Hong Kong where you play as Wei Shen an undercover police officer who is trying to infiltrate the ranks of Triads to take down the heads of the gang. The story of game takes a lot of twists and turns and can get very tense because you’re not sure if the gang members have figured out if Wei is a cop or not it will make you sweat. The voice acting is top notch because as it is set in Hong Kong people will speak English and Cantonese so some sentences will have them speak English with some words (mostly explicit words) will be said in Cantonese or they will strictly speak in Cantonese. I appreciate the effort with the voice work to make it feel authentic it really sucks you in and makes you feel as if you’re in Hong Kong with the characters on screen.

The game is set in a decent recreation of Hong Kong that you can explore with loads of activities you can take part in such as street racing, fight clubs and even Cock fights, yes I’m serious you can place bets on Cock fights. The gameplay is very familiar if you’ve played any open world game based on the Grand Theft Auto formula, but it sprinkles elements from Hong Kong films from directors like John Woo.

The hand to hand combat is similar to the Arkham series except you have a habit of putting people’s faces through work top saws. The martial arts is great in this game you feel every blow you deliver and you feel each bone crunch as you snap someone’s arm in half. It’s brutal and gloriously over the top with blood and sweat flying everywhere.  

Gunplay is satisfying with the guns packing a good punch as you see brain matter fly everywhere when you nail a headshot, it also has a mechanic when you slide across a table you go into a bullet time mode and you have more time to take down multiple enemies as you see bits of wall and other bits of debris fly all over the place.

The driving sections are fantastic it takes the over top action set pieces from movies and elements from Just Cause where you can stand on top of your car jump to another car where you can then highjack them. You can also shoot out of your car and when you shoot out their tyres the car will flip over in a ridiculous fashion.

When you’re completing story missions the game will be keeping score in two categories you have your cop score which will decrease if you cause property damage or kill innocent people and you have a Triad score which will increase if you kill enemies in brutal and horrific ways whether it be in hand to hand combat or gunfights. These points contribute into two skill trees, the Triad skill tree is mostly offensive options which will give you an edge in fights, the cop tree will give you skills which help your investigation skills or make unlocking cars easier etc. The skills are nice and varied which complement their respected categories.

The visuals of this game are a marvel to look at especially when it’s night time and raining with the neon lit streets with the puddles splashing when you drive or run through them. The character models have superb detail even with moist skin textures when they’re out in the rain or when they’re sweating after an intense fight the detail is nothing short of amazing. The car models are fantastic with great damage definition when you crash into things with individual dents showing up to blood spatter on your bonnet when you run someone over.

The only problem I have with this game is that I wish the story had more of a moral dilemma where you had choose between being a cop or a Triad, there are parts where the game sort of has elements of this, but it’s swiftly dropped in the latter half the game.

Sleeping Dogs is a fantastic game taking influence from Hong Kong cinema with over the top action and violence that is viscerally satisfying. If you’re looking for a good open world game with a dark and gritty crime thriller story then pick this game up. It’s very cheap on 360 and PS3 or if you want a shinier version then get the definitive edition on PS4 and Xbox One. 

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