An average game with few redeeming qualities
The latest game in the open world crime genre sees Sleeping Dogs make its case for signalling a change of direction in a seemingly saturated market. Set in Hong Kong, the game follows in the footsteps of Saints Row: The Third by being a different alternative to juggernaut that is Grand Theft Auto. Where Saints Row is all about being over the top and ridiculous, Sleeping Dogs tries to be different by being in a completely different setting to the norm and tells the story of a somewhat 'good' guy for a change. Does it succeed? I don't think so.
I feel that I need to state that I'm a huge fan of 'GTA Clones'. Particularly last generation I bought anything that remotely resembled GTA. Sometimes it paid off with the likes of The Getaway and True Crime: Streets of LA, other times it didn't. Buying NARC the day it came out is money I'll never get back. This generation hasn't had as many clones as last did but the ones that have come out have been fantastic. OK, back to Sleeping Dogs.
The story follows a murky path that tries to blur the line of good and bad, what's right and what's wrong and tries to justify the ultra violence of its protagonist. I find this approach interesting but ultimately falling flat the further I progressed. My problem wasn't with the content so much as I just didn't care in the end. This is probably due to unlikable or unrelatable characters mixed with a muddled story which unfortunately results into something that is OK but completely forgettable.
The shooting and driving mechanics are fine as are the graphics and sound. I find it hard to go into detail because it's pretty much what you would expect from a game this generation. Nothing is laughably bad or makes the game unplayable but also doesn't do anything you haven't seen before and ultimately left me feeling like I've played this game many times before. The voice acting is fine but if you go play L.A Noire then play Sleeping Dogs you see how far behind this game is from the best on the market.
The combat system is very fun and adds something somewhat new to what you would usually expect in this genre. Seeing as this project started as True Crime 3 it's no surprise the game borrows heavily from previous titles in having a great entertaining fighting system. Very Arkham-esque in its execution the more moves you unlock the better you will become. By far the most entertaining aspect of fighting is the environment kills that will no doubt divide audiences. Sure, they are incredibly gimmicky and can become tiresome after a while, but slamming a guy's head through a fish tank is undeniably fun.
My personal favorite part of the game is the somewhat 'free running' aspect that is present during some chases. The controls work very fluidly as you vault over tables, climb walls and jump over rooftops. This is when the city really shines also, seeing it from above shows the detail that has been put into recreating Hong Kong and I wish the city felt so beautiful when driving around as It does during these sequences.
I find it hard to talk about specifics in this game without comparing to others in the genre. This game does nothing bad at all, my problem is that it doesn't do anything better than what's already on the market. If you want the most fun open world experience, buy Saints Row: The Third. If its story you are after then look no further than GTA IV or it's fantastic DLC (Episode from Liberty City). Even Crackdown has a lot more going on and had lots more to do after you have finished the game.
And those games are only from this generation. The Getaway still has probably the best story told in this genre and the first True Crime has a just as good combat system and nice morality system. And that's not even comparing it to the PS2 GTA Trilogy, three of the best games ever made.
Describing this game to someone who hasnt played it is hard as it really does very little to try to be different to what gamers have seen over the years. When I was playing the game everything was just so average and adequate, nothing was outstanding or felt like something I hadn't seen or played before. Sleeping Dogs isn't a bad game at all, I just can't see what it's unique selling point is and why I would ever recommend someone to play it. It's hard because there is so many better, cheaper options on the market like Saints Row and GTA. If you are absolutely massive fan of open world games then you will undoubtedly enjoy but as one of the biggest GTA clone fans there is, I find this game one of the more forgettable offerings in recent years.
Some of the best open world games over the years have had me going back for more every few months, some even after the generation has passed. Earlier this year I must have completed The Getaway for the 10th time and that's not even thinking about the time I have spent in the fictional cities in the GTA universe. However if you ask me about my experience I had playing Sleeping Dogs this time next year, I may just say Sleeping what?