By Sackmanjones 40 Comments
NO SPOILERS HERE!
Sleeping Dogs is an open world crime game and it's near impossible to not bring up the name Grand Theft Auto while talking about it. You drive, you shoot and you fight your way through the game just as you do in GTA, but the game feels like its own product. It embraces its setting and "Hard Boiled" inspiration to great effect. You can jump out of your car and onto someone elses, jump out of your car in slow motion while firing your gun at endless goons in mid air, it's just plain fun. The story keeps it rather serious from where I'm at but there is definitely humor in some random citizen dialogue such as the parking garage attendant wishing he could live your life.... but only for one day.
Gameplay wise, Sleeping Dogs is well rounded and does some things better than others. The driving (I think) is rather good and satisfying but from what I've read this changes based on the player. It's a much more arcady feel where the cars can turn better than they should and the hand brake is the ONLY brake you should be using. The driving is made for you to maneuver through each turn whether it be an open highway or tight alleyway. There is even an "attack button" for the vehicles. By the simple press of a button your car will jerk in a certain direction to slam into a cop car or an unfortunate pedestrian minding their own business. Like I said, it embraces its cinema setting. Shooting..... well to be honest I haven't done much shooting in my 10 hours with the game except for a few side missions. From what I've played the shooting seems fine, nothing wrong with it and nothing amazing. The guns sound decent but they look a little too large in proportion to Wei which makes it look a little funky. A cool mechanic you can mix with the traversal (more on that later) is you can slide across benches in slow mo while picking off bad guys which is always fun.
Where the gameplay really shines is the hand to hand combat. This is without a doubt the best hand to hand combat in an open world game. It's bloody, brutal and just a ton of fun. It takes the base idea of Batman: Arkham City's hand to hand combat and establishes it in a more...grounded reality lets say. Wei Shen doesn't back flip to his next target, he doesn't glide across the floor for a counter, he is a man trained in martial arts, not a super-hero. He may not be a super hero but he still can kick some major ass, every punch packs an brutal feeling and some of the moves, like the leg break are grotesque and fantastic at the same time. It's based on a counter system, an enemy will outline in red and Wei can counter and in some cases disarm an opponent. Instead of gliding to counter though, if you are too far Wei actually grounds himself, preparing for the hit and if you time it wrong you'll pay for it. Probably the biggest thing though is grabbing enemies. Once you grab hold, you have a few options at your disposal like running a dude into the closest wall or pushing their head into an air conditioner (which ends with a bloody mess). You can even just flip the enemy over with a powerful takedown or charge your enemies and tackle them to the ground. Different enemy types vary how you fight. Larger enemies can't be grabbed but can't block either, some enemies are block heavy but are very open to grabs. There is a lot of options and variety in the hand to hand, and so far I have loved every bit of it.
Another highligh is the traversal of the city. Wei Shen is a very mobile character. He can climb large walls, slide across tables and car hoods, dodge people in a crowd and like I said before, jump from car to car to get what he needs. The system gets a little wonky sometimes but overall it works very well and just the act of chasing someone is a rush.
To add to the depth, there are not one, not two, not even three but four separate upgrade paths. You have the Cop path (which you gain doing drug busts and being "nice" during missions... like not running into property or people), this tends to upgrade things with your guns and cars. There is the Traid path, which you gain points for just beating the living shit out of your enemies (throwing is ALWAYS encouraged). This you might have guessed, adds to your hand to hand combat. You have a face upgrade path that are just basic power ups. There is only one path to this however (compared to the others which have 2). These include things like people bringing you your car or being able to get discounts on items. Lastly you have the martial arts skill path. You don't really gain points for this one, you find statues during missions and for each one you find you get to learn a new move for your old martial arts master. So if you want, there is a ton to unlock in Sleeping Dogs.
As far as missions go and the general world, there is a decent variety with some repetitive instances. The main mission as well as multi part side missions have so far been really varied and exciting. This helps thanks to the already interesting story and really well written characters. Then there are the side missions which have so far come in a few varieties. One of which is a series of drug busts throughout the city in which you do the same thing over and over. It does get a bit repetitive but the combat is so fun that it helps fight off the repetitiveness. On top of this, it feeds into one of you 4 upgrades areas. The second set of side missions are very quick minute long sessions that deal with petty things like chasing a thief. Again, it gets a bit annonying but it helps you upgrade and chasing a thief as I said earlier is just a joy to do. There are other things you can do in the city like buy clothes which contain bonuses if you match certain pieces, buy cars to keep in your garage, and buy food and drinks which act as power ups in combat. The world is also very dense with people and cars during the day but are barren late at night and stormy. The city feels ALIVE in Sleeping Dogs and along with its already unique setting it creates a wonderful atmosphere to be in.
Voice acting so far is excellent, every character has his or her own personality and it shows well. It helps create emotion in the story which I haven't dug too much into but I'm already invested. The basic story revolves around Wei Shen who is an under-cover cop trying to infiltrate the Triads. That's all I'll say about the story, if you wanna know more you'll just have to play it! To go along with this, the PC version of the game look FANTASTIC! The lights of the city, movement in combat and reflections off cars look absolutely great. The characters are pretty good but there are some weird animations that hurt them just a tad. I'll add some screens I took below but know this. This is a GREAT PC game, tons of graphical options and with it all turned up it is one of the best looking open world games out there.
Sleeping Dogs is easily the most surprising game I've played this year. While it doesn't do anything groundbreaking it is a hell of a game to just play. I'm 10 hours in and have barely touched the story so I know I have a lot more ahead of me and can't wait to see it. I hope this helped some of you on the edge and if you have any questions feel free to ask and I will answer the best I can. Thanks for reading!
Sorry, Im gonna add a few more pictures because I just love how the game looks haha