The crime syndicates of Hong Kong are well known throughout the world for many reasons. Due to this infamy, there have been several attempts to bring them down through many different means. The most common means, and the most deadly, is by infiltration by an undercover cop. By going deep under cover, Wei Shen will have to work on both sides of the law and himself.
It’s time to test your loyalties.
Sleeping Dogs has a somewhat checkered history as it was originally supposed to be part of the True Crime series of games and a lot of that shows. You take control of Wei Shen, a native of Hong Kong who moved to the US. During his time there, he eventually became a cop and then was given the chance to go undercover in his homeland. Wei Shen needs to not only work alongside his brothers in the Sun On Yee, but also the police task force, working to take them down. It’s a dangerous balancing act, and Wei Shen will need to utilize everything he has to keep from falling.
Gameplay mechanics, at this point, should be understood as there have been countless games in this genre for years now. Sleeping Dogs doesn’t really offer up anything new or different, especially due to games that have come out during the time it spent in development hell. That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, or a boring one, it’s just that the game doesn’t give you anything special to make it stand out. To put it simply, the game feels very spartan in terms of it’s execution.
There are three main elements to the game: Driving, Martial Arts, and Shooting. Driving works as you would expect, with hijacking and car theft readily available at any given time. You won’t ever be without a car or the ability to get one. Each car handles roughly the same with the only big variances being in the speed of the car. This makes for some cars that have a lot of top end, but seemingly not enough handling to manage such speeds. Aside from that, driving is pretty fun, which is good, as it is what you’ll spend the majority of the game doing.
Martial Arts is another thing you’ll be doing a lot of, and if you’ve played Assassin’s Creed, then you’ll understand things well enough. However, the system runs into the same issue as that game, what with opponents waiting their turn, only to be easily countered. Once you get the hang of the combat system, you should find it very hard to lose any fight.
Lastly there is some gunplay in the game, and by some I mean very little. The only time you will pick up and use a gun are in set situations, and you won’t actually be able to keep the guns for very long after due to there being no ammo laying around outside of those events. The game uses a cover system, but due to the rather dumb AI, a run and gun method is far more effective.
Aside from these elements here are also a few throwbacks to the True Crime series in the form of slow motion aiming while driving or sliding over obstacles. You can also leap from one vehicle to another in order to hijack it. While these elements look pretty stylish the only one I found particularly useful is slow motion aiming with the rest being almost completely superfluous.
Despite the mechanics of the game feeling a bit dated, the visuals are not. Everything looks really great in both cutscenes and out in the open world. Spending time just driving around and taking in the sites was definitely a highlight for me. Audio lives up to the visuals with a good array of music on the radio and some really nice voice acting.
I only wish that the story and characters could match the quality here, though. Fans of Hong Kong cinema will have seen every cliche this game has to offer and even the most serious moments in the game are ruined by this. So many of the plot points in the story seem telegraphed a mile away or are so preposterous that I couldn’t take them seriously at all.
I can’t really say that Sleeping Dogs is a bad game, nor can I say it’s a really good game either. The game, much like Wei Shen, rides the line between good and bad. There is a lot of enjoyable elements, but I don’t think they add up to enough to warrant the game’s current price tag. I’d suggest that people hold on to their money for now and wait for the price to come down before grabbing this game.
GO Rating: 3/5