Release Date: August 14th, 2012
Developer: United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360], PlayStation 3
Rated: M for Mature
United Front Games saw the shining light at the end of the tunnel while developing and marketing this action packed title. Once in the hands of Activision as True Crime: Hong Kong,Sleeping Dogs later became Square Enix’s most prized possession. As the old saying goes, “One man’s garbage is another man’s gold,” and United Front Games just kept on polishing it. Question is, did they polish it to a crystal clear reflection or did they dull and sand it down to a metal ball?
The game kicks off with Wei moving over from San Francisco to Hong Kong as undercover, aiding to help take down the triads. From there it’s plenty of intense moments. Melding Wei Shen’s character and Hong Kong seems to work out well for the game; too well.
Wei’s actions reflect overall rankings, so each mission that you embark on is ranked on three things; Cop, Triad and Face. It’s possible to manage all three during missions. In most cases, though, you’ll only pull off two, being that one is beyond challenging.
As Cop, you are expected to uphold the law (duh, right?), specifically, hitting a fence, knocking over a pole, getting into fights with pedestrians and such will deduct points from you and lower your grade in each mission. With the Triad, they expect you to do your worse and that’s just what needs to be done. If not, you won’t see a high point value. Then there’s Face. Face is what you do for people in the city. Helping and completing side missions will increase your meter.
All three of these are Wei’s method for receiving upgrades and leveling up. When you’re looking for immediate assistance you’ll be looking for Dragon Kick; increased melee, Noodles; Health Regeneration, clothes and more. When your health is low, or after long fight scenarios, you’ll need to find soup bowls or tea stands to regenerate your health. There are a few other spots around, like massage parlors, that increase your skills as well.
Which leads to the action. We’re well aware of United Front Games working alongside Rocksteady, so the Batman combative system is used in Sleeping Dogs. However, it feels a bit more realistic. There isn’t an icon flashing over the thugs head, instead there’s a red aura. Just because it lights up doesn’t mean you strike, instead wait for the punch, kick or weapon to do so.
You can perform and learn plenty of combinations through the progression of the story. Not wanting to get your hands too dirty, you can do different types of environmental fatalities. Without detailing them, I’ll mention they’re fun, but repetitive.
Throughout the city, Hong Kong itself is very lifelike. The streets are filled with citizens, along with plenty of interaction.
Graphics overall are good, but not great. Camera angles pull you in certain directions, which is most noticeable while driving in vehicles, and to nitpick, I had an umbrella go straight through my head as a pedestrian walked passed me. The complaints end there.
After stepping into the open world of Sleeping Dogs, I’d definitely have to say it’s an inspired Grand Theft Auto with much more fluid mechanics. One would wonder how could a game this exciting come from the same studios that gave us Modnation Racers; Easy, add weapons.
Sleeping Dogs was considered a mixed bag prior to release. I can assure you it’s worth all the marbles.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5