By Sparky_Buzzsaw 0 Comments
"I've read a lot of blogs. Sparky's Update is lyrical honey. Oh, hey, toss me a roll of toilet paper, would you?" -Ernest Hemingway, circa 3012.
I really devoted myself to playing only one game this week. Judging from the title of this blog, you've probably guessed I played Legend of the Mystical Ninja. Well, you're wrong, you foolish, foolish person, you. Sleeping Dogs is yet another good open-world game in a generation of consoles that has seen many awesome entries in the genre. But is it as good as the likes of, say, Red Dead Redemption or Saints Row: The Third? Well, not quite.
Dogs does a lot of things well. The car combat in particular is superb - if you want to smash into another car, all you have to do is point yourself in the right direction and press X. I can't tell you how much more fun this makes things like street races - if the competition's sneaking up on you, let 'em up next to your car, and then bash them into oncoming traffic. It makes the cops in the game practically pointless, which not-so-hilariously echoes real life, doesn't it? Anyways...
There's also an RPG-like upgrade system that's pretty nifty too. Missions and side quests award you three types of experience - cop, triad, and/or face. Leveling up in these allows you to select a new, usually useful, ability. You can also find statues scattered around Hong Kong which can be returned to a kung fu master to learn new attacks, which are practically essential for the hand-to-hand combat sequences in the late game. As if that weren't enough, you can also find shrines scattered around that award bonuses to health when you've found enough. Collectibles with real rewards are a treat, and it makes exploring Hong Kong a lot of fun.
There's also a stunning amount of quests and activities to do within the city, not to mention things to purchase. Side quests are scattered all over the map, and range from beating down cheating racers' cars to chasing down deadbeats for a triad collections man. There are also all manner of races scattered throughout the city, most of which are surprisingly fun. I bought some DLC for the game when it was recently on sale. Some of the DLC has added numerous little side missions, which are fun but pretty inconsequential. The best of the bunch are definitely the on-rails shooting galleries, where you're a passenger in a car trying to take down as many vehicles chasing you as possible.
Scattered throughout the city are also shops and vendors of various types. You can collect clothes, cars, and furniture for your various apartments. The clothing looks outstanding, with a great variety of serious and goofy outfits. The furniture is somewhat hard to find and frankly didn't do much for me, but I love that the option is there. More games like this need random, awesome ways to spend your hard-earned in-game currency. One particularly cool idea is that you can buy food or massages for temporary benefits, such as increased damage or health regeneration.
All of these ideas are great. They make for a pretty good game, one I really do recommend you play, but there are some shortcomings that leave plenty of room for improvement in a sequel. Some activities are bare bones at best. This is particularly true of dating. Throughout the game, you meet various women you can go on a date with. It's a fine idea in theory, but in execution, it's pretty awful. Each date ends with a cutscene that makes it seem as though the developers had more plans for the women, but then in a cutaway scene, Wei (the lead) convinces the girls to hook up with him in brief, jarringly bad sentences. It's very clear that multiple dates were planned, but ultimately cut out. While the rewards for these dates are great - you get mini-map locations for collectibles and the like - it's a waste of the talent involved, which includes Lucy Liu and Emma Stone.
That lackluster petering out of the dating goes for some of the late-game story as well, particularly the conclusion. Two big story elements are done entirely in cutscenes, which doesn't give the villains in question enough time to shine. It reeks of a missed opportunity to add two very important missions, which is a damned shame. The game is plenty long, but I'd sacrifice those dating missions for a more explosive conclusion. And while the character interactions that are here are pretty great, none of the side characters and antagonists are given enough time to shine. You meet most of the villians only once or twice in cutscenes, so the eventual payoff against them feels limp.
This last thought isn't so much a complaint against the game as it is this console generation in particular, but the beginning of the game, in the Night Market, looks a damn sight better than the rest of the game. The Night Market feels alive and vibrant, packed with people and vendors all shouting and vying for your attention. The rest of the game world feels lackluster in comparison. If future games in this series can manage to make the entirety of ther cities feel as alive as the Night Market did, they'll have created something really phenomenal.
And that perfectly sums up Sleeping Dogs in general - it's a good game with a lot of neat elements just on the cusp of greatness. With enough TLC in a sequel, I imagine it'll be as revered as GTA and Saints Row.
-I burned through the first season of Once Upon A Time like a madman this week. While there are some repetitive, eye-rolling moments with Snow Whtie and Charming, most of the stories told are fun. For someone with as much love of folk and fairy tales as me, this show is a joy.
-If Phantom Pain is indeed MGS 5, I hope it's a launch game for the next generation of consoles. What better game to demonstrate the hardware potential of future consoles than a Metal Gear game?
That's about it for this week. Hugs and kizzez, you salty dogs.