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Review

Sleeping Dogs Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Varied missions, hard-hitting melee combat, and a captivating setting make Sleeping Dogs an enjoyable escapade.

What does it take to survive as an undercover cop who infiltrates one of Hong Kong's most ruthless criminal organizations? If Sleeping Dogs is any indication, it takes martial arts prowess, good marksmanship, driving skill, a reckless willingness to leap from one speeding vehicle to another, and the confidence to sing karaoke. None of the individual elements in Sleeping Dogs are best-in-class, but they're all thoroughly enjoyable, and the structured story missions have you switching from one type of action to another frequently enough that you're never tired of what you're doing at any given moment. Additionally, the fictionalized version of Hong Kong where Sleeping Dogs takes place is an exotic and atmospheric setting for this tale of conflicting loyalties; you probably wouldn't want to live amid the ruthless criminals who populate the game's cast, but this world sure is a nice place to visit.

You play as Wei Shen, a Hong Kong native who has returned after spending some time in the States. Driven by a desire to avenge his sister's death, he accepts a dangerous assignment to infiltrate the Sun On Yee triad and help take them down from the inside. Starting out on the lowest rungs of the criminal ladder, he rapidly climbs up through the ranks, behaving in ways that sometimes make his triad cohorts suspect he's a cop and sometimes make his police superiors think he's getting too attached to his brothers in crime. It's a typical tale of an undercover cop possibly getting in too deep, and the story doesn't have any surprises in store for you. But solid voice acting and writing that convincingly blends English and Cantonese make it a narrative that's more than capable of supporting the gameplay, providing context for many a dramatic mission and building up to a cathartic climax that's bloody enough to be taken right out of one of John Woo's Hong Kong action films.

Sleeping Dogs is an open-world game, but it doesn't start out by setting you free. The opening chapters keep you on a tight leash as they introduce you to the basics of movement and melee combat, which is good, since that combat plays a huge role in the game as a whole. Taking its cues from the standard-setting brawling of Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel, this combat has you unleashing combos and using timed button presses to counter enemy attacks. Wei's attacks look and feel powerful, and the bone-breaking animations may often make you squirm and make your enemies flinch.

Duke it out in the bathrooms of some of the hottest clubs in Hong Kong.

But what sets Sleeping Dogs' combat apart from games with similar systems is the emphasis on environmental attacks. In most places where you find yourself needing to clobber some fools, you can drag enemies to certain objects around you and use these things to finish them off. These environmental finishers range from the relatively restrained old standby of tossing a thug into a dumpster, to the much more original and brutal attack that has Wei impaling an enemy on a swordfish head. There's a good assortment of these attack opportunities throughout the game, and a number of chances for you to make your own fun with the environment, too. Tossing an enemy from the upper level of a swanky club to the level down below isn't, strictly speaking, one of the game's contextual environmental attacks, but don't let that stop you from doing it. It's empowering and effective.

The early stages also introduce you to some of the atmospheric pleasures of this fictional Hong Kong. People believably appear to go about their business; cooks fry things up in restaurants, merchants hock their wares at the marketplace, and dancers perform at a street festival. What's absent from the behavior of non-player characters is almost as important as what's present. Strangers can sometimes be overheard discussing story events, but they don't constantly call out to you as if their existences revolved around you. (They do, of course, but it shouldn't seem like they do.) Unfortunately, close inspection can shatter the illusion. Character models look like plastic dolls when viewed up close, and some gestures characters make are rigid and unnatural. Despite these oddities, the PC version is easily the best-looking version of the game. A high-resolution texture pack is included as free downloadable content, but even if you need to run the game at low settings, everything is much crisper than in the comparatively fuzzy console versions.

Somehow, Wei finds time to do actual police work on top of his full-time role as a gangster.

Still, Sleeping Dogs is more about wide-angle, big-picture atmosphere than about fine details. The skyline gleams with towering skyscrapers. Neon signs hang from every available outcropping on busy streets, crowding the air above you with glowing Chinese characters. This city may not be accurately modeled on the real Hong Kong, but it nonetheless has a powerful identity, and while you're playing, you feel transported to this dangerous land. Collectibles scattered across the island make exploring it worthwhile as well as enjoyable; finding health shrines increases your maximum health, while blue lockboxes hidden all over the place reward you with cash and sometimes with new items of clothing.

Once you complete the first few missions, you're free to explore the island as you see fit. But Sleeping Dogs is an open-world game in which you're sure to enjoy the structured missions more than the opportunities for free-form mayhem. It's fun for a while to run around jump-kicking people to death, or fatally tossing them off of three-foot-high railings. However, unlike other games in the genre like Just Cause 2 and Saints Row: The Third, which reveled in giving you ways to wreak incredible havoc on your own, Sleeping Dogs is at its best when you're playing through the story. Missions typically string together a number of activities, switching from one type of action to another frequently enough to keep you on your toes and ensure that you never get tired of what you're doing.

Driving in Sleeping Dogs is great. The arcade-style handling makes it easy to hop into any vehicle and start drifting your way around turns in no time, and the physics-defying sideways shunt you can do to damage enemy vehicles or ram them off the road brings with it a satisfying sense of impact. Just as exciting as the many races and car chases that take place throughout Sleeping Dogs are the vehicular shoot-outs that start cropping up a bit later in the game. Taking aim at the tires of pursuing cars and disabling them isn't particularly challenging, but it's still thrilling to send your pursuers flying end over end as you speed along unscathed. Wei also has the ability to perform action hijacks, leaping from one vehicle to another and forcibly taking the driver's place. It's an outrageous move that lends Sleeping Dogs a bit more of that Hong Kong action movie feel.

Whether you're escaping from a big drug deal or just driving your gangster pal's fiancee on an errand, the music emanating from your car radio always makes for fitting accompaniment to your activities. The eclectic soundtrack includes hip-hop, sappy Chinese love songs, throbbing techno numbers, tunes by some of the greats of British rock-and-roll, and more. And of course, if you don't like the tune the game has lined up for your current situation, you can always change the station.

Guns aren't a constant in Sleeping Dogs as they are in many other open-world crime games--the story explains at one point that guns are something of a rarity in Hong Kong--but there's no shortage of gunplay on hand. Gun combat makes use of a standard cover system, and though it doesn't quite measure up to the bone-crunching impact of the melee combat, a few dramatic touches lend it some flair. While vaulting over tables or other objects, you can slip into a slow-motion aiming mode, taking enemies out as you speed forward. And melee combat and gunplay sometimes blend together, as when you use a learned technique to quickly disarm a thug and use his gun to take out others. One shoot-out takes place in a hospital and memorably evokes the climactic sequence from the film Hard Boiled. Another gives you a gun equipped with a grenade launcher, which makes taking out the cars your enemies are crouching behind an enjoyably pyrotechnic process.

But it's not all fast rides and big guns in the life of Wei Shen. Sometimes you need to do a bit of police work by calibrating bugs, hacking cameras, cracking safes, or tracking cell phone signals. These minigames are pleasant little diversions from the core action--particularly the hacking game, which involves code-breaking a la the board game Mastermind. Missions also occasionally find you hitting the clubs to sing some karaoke. This takes the form of an uninvolving minigame that has you moving an arrow up and down as green bars scroll along a track. Still, these rare sequences are good for a laugh; the way your character stands looking straight at the karaoke machine and ignoring his audience is amusing, and it's particularly funny if Wei Shen is singing while all bruised and bloody from some brawling or shooting he's just been involved in.

Nothing impresses the ladies quite like a guy who's man enough to wear Rico Rodriguez' outfit from Just Cause 2.

You can seek out karaoke at any time if you want to hear Wei Shen try to belt out a stirring rendition of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" or one of the numerous other recognizable hits on offer. Singing karaoke is one way to increase your face level, which brings with it passive upgrades like increased bonuses from the food and drinks you can purchase from vendors and machines, or from the massages you can purchase in back-alley parlors. Raising your face level is also necessary before you can purchase some of the nicer clothes and more powerful vehicles available in the game.

Thankfully, singing karaoke isn't the only way to go about raising your face level. You can also do favors for people around town. These optional activities usually aren't very interesting, though. Many of them have Wei closely inspecting something just so a thief can run up behind him and make off with some of his money, starting a foot chase that ends with you fighting the thief. Other, more enjoyable favors find Wei playing the part of a getaway driver, or leading a criminal pursuer into a police trap.

Wei also earns cop experience and triad experience throughout the game by completing missions and by keeping property damage and innocent casualties to a minimum, with each type of experience opening up selections on limited skill trees. The triad skills primarily improve Wei's melee abilities, while the cop skills improve his prowess with guns and cars. Additionally, statues you find throughout your adventure can be returned to a martial arts school to learn new moves. All of this brings a pleasant sense of growth to Wei as you advance through the game.

There are plenty of taxis in Hong Kong, though just like in real life, sometimes you can't find one when you need it most.

There are other minor attractions throughout the Hong Kong of Sleeping Dogs. You can bet on cockfights, for instance, or sail out to a gambling barge for a bit of poker mahjong. And a social hub ranks you against your friends on mission performance as well as a host of other challenges, like longest bike jump and most cash earned by running down parking meters in rapid succession. Goofing around and pursuing high marks on these leaderboards is fun, but it's the atmospheric city and the varied story missions that make Sleeping Dogs an alluring adventure. It may have more violence than you'd want in a typical vacation, but this is still a fun-filled Hong Kong getaway that will leave you with many happy memories.

The Good
Savage melee combat
Alluring atmosphere
Fun driving and gunplay
Varied missions
Numerous collectibles to hunt down and other enjoyable diversions
The Bad
Artificial-looking character models and animations
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Sleeping Dogs

About the Author

Discussion

18 comments
mkess
mkess

Do not buy the german version. This version is not patched to the newest version, you cannot buy any dlc, not use the Texturepack, and due severe limitations, you have have  2 or 3 of the 17 possible finishing moves, making the game more difficult than the REAL version.

The german version is clearly a ripoff. And deserves only a 6 out of 10 as rating, because it cripples the main aspect of the game, the combat system. And the driving, because the system is not patched to the newest version.

Jebril
Jebril

This game is way better than GTAIV how the hell does GTAIV get a 10 and this get an 8 is beyond me, literally everything is better in this game, graphics, story, etc. There are a few things like maybe a bigger world for GTAIV and better animations, more cars and vehicles but too many draw backs for GTAIV to be better than this game.

monowasp
monowasp

This game put the "fun" back in gaming. Loved it.

H0rr0rG4m3r
H0rr0rG4m3r

Got this game for free on Xbox Live, was surprised by how good it is lol.

asifah30
asifah30

Criminally underrated and ignored....

abz84
abz84

Super game. Played it on the PC with HD Graphics and it's gorgeous! Also, use a 360 Controller, not keyboard + mouse, and it's perfect! I just completed this game, and not GTA4 (got them both around the same time and played GTA4 first), which says a lot about Sleeping Dog's charm. Might try GTA4 again, as the story and game play didn't really pull me in. Kudos to the developers for sprucing up the PC version of Sleeping Dogs. 10/10 for me :)

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

Man... such a wonderful game. At first I wasn't fond of it because it felt weird playing it after GTA, but what you end up realizing is that everything that this game does differently just serves to make it that much more enjoyable. The fact that it's different than GTA, combined with excellent story and game play, makes Sleeping Dogs one of those must-have games.

ECH71
ECH71

What a BS game... can't bind movement to arrow keys...

When/if you complain on their official forums, their support staff will respond with total arrogance and recommend you to use AutoHotKey as a work-around... which does not work flawlessly.

The best part is they claim that because they did not advertise the key remapping feature, they did not mislead their customers.

What's next? Omit audio & color from their next game and claim they didn't advertise either so it's okay?


AVOID THIS GAME AT ALL COSTS IF YOU AREN'T A WASD GAMER.


dr0siko
dr0siko

I bought this game a year ago and didn't have the time to play it until last month. it is really a good game despite the terrible controls, never thought I would be sucked in playing hours!

prince__vlad
prince__vlad

what a shitty graphic has...bleah I wouldn't play this not even for free...It ruined my day just to see 2 minutes of this review.

alok08
alok08

Deserves to be the game of the year.

Derugs
Derugs

Got it for free...  Woo Hoo!! 

Sixmoons
Sixmoons

Awesome game, pretty much all aspects of it. There are a lot of controls and it took a few re-maps and tweaks to get it right - but once I settled in, I was sucked in for good. The review is correct in that there is so much to do and see, and all aspects (fighting, gun fights, driving etc) are very polished. Theres also a free hi-res texture DLC available. This game easily deserves a rating of 9.0 minimum.

Killer_73
Killer_73

they made a huge game deserves long time as 3 years of development but it was really good game,story,graphics are really awesome

don_pafciu
don_pafciu

I really wanted to enjoy this game but the controls are so terrible and unresponding (PC).  It is just unplayable, stay away from the PC version!

eziosomanshu
eziosomanshu

nice game, i liked the story but the combat is sometimes unresponding and awful (PC). Driving is good ( actually in  my opinion, way better than GTA IV), graphics dont dissapoint. :) 8.8 stars from me

super_rider
super_rider

it's better than gta 4 but falls short to saints row the third..

r3d182
r3d182

this game is pure fun, don't expet realisim but it's great arcade fun

Tr2et
Tr2et

The camera is twisting while driving, the Batman-like fighting is dull, just counter - strike - heavy strike - ... Gun fighting is more exciting with slow-mo, and driving is good. 7/10.

lilmcnessy
lilmcnessy

just tried out the demo and it was horrible, was so hard to control the character, when running around the mouse turns so slowly then when you have a gun it was so sensitive I couldn't aim at anyone. The melee combat was almost the same as Batman but terrible.

outlawst
outlawst

not even in top 10 in its genre,the whole map looks the same and the action parts become boring at some points. 6~7 of 10 is much fair.

adudu619
adudu619

how to download this game???

xDeadP00lx
xDeadP00lx

GTA V: Post-UK-Semi-Free-Trade-Hong-Kong edition. I'm on the fence about this game. Just when I get fed up with it or bored, there's something that's "kinda cool..." that keeps me going for a bit, then I get a lame mission or something and I get all flustered again. The fighting is obviously cool, but gets old after a bit. I know I'm crazy for not using a controller on the PC, but the camera angles when I first get in a car or on a motorcycle seem broken until I get going in a straight line. Not sure if a controller fixes that. All in all, not a horrible game like people make it sound, but I think I'm just about burned out on sandbox/GTA-type games for good. The game seems like a mashup of GTA meets Fast N Furious: China Drift. None of this is a knock on SE, they've always been well-respected in my book as far as video game accolades. This is all just my opinion, which means nothing, and I realize a lot of you won't agree. Just felt compelled to share my .02 with the interwebz.

misterbanks87
misterbanks87

Everybody knows you use controllers on games that are mutli platform except first person shooters.

dj_anr
dj_anr

this game is really booring :( i ended this game, after that, there is no another police cases or something like true crime new york city..

Nandutzu
Nandutzu

True Crime: Street Cleaners

ahmed_tawfeek98
ahmed_tawfeek98

This game looks suckish,i thought this was going to be a good one and now i'm disappointed.The gaming industry has failed me once again.

MehranRZ
MehranRZ

@Jebril GTA IV was released 6 years before this game. You Can't compare them NOW!! In that time GTA IV was the best you could find ...

famos_ga
famos_ga

@StarsiderSajun im playing gta 5 at the moment ive been reading reviews on this i will get this game 

Abdrfy
Abdrfy

@ECH71 lol, i cant believe any1 still uses arrow keys for gaming :D . This game is totally awesome. Ignore this guys comment. Liked it more than, alot more than GTA.

ThGy007
ThGy007

@ECH71 I can see how your comment reflects so many people this day in age. Moron. 

abhreebhu
abhreebhu

@alok08 that deserves to be the Best OMG-WTF comment of the year!!!

rogerpenna
rogerpenna

@don_pafciu Gee, I think the opposite. I found the pc controls to be top notch, ultra responsive!

asifah30
asifah30

 @don_pafciu 

Exactly the same things I encountered when playing it. PC controll are not on the best. Sometime they are frustrated but still it is not so 'unplayable', I just finished it last night and I must say that the combat, gunfire and drivring are on the top.

dubei
dubei

 @lilmcnessy

 You just need to change up some settings. That's what i did and changed my opinion after that.

seanmark1996
seanmark1996

 @dj_anr plz tell me how did u get this game i dont know from where to download plz reply as soon as possible......

 

pauldanielj
pauldanielj

Are you devoid of meaningful opinion? "This game looks suckish" is your casual observation based on basically nothing and from that you get to criticize an entire industry? Grow up.

ahmed_tawfeek98
ahmed_tawfeek98

@DeathCl0ck It might seem so to a simple-minded person like you.

ahmed_tawfeek98
ahmed_tawfeek98

 @pauldanielj No,i meant what i said.I have been playing video games as long as i can remember and i am sick of the mainstream industry of gaming that cares more about making money than the fun of gaming,the mainstream industry ruined a lot of game titles in the last couple of years that were good before.And they keep making these movie based video games that suck.I have played so many bad video games that now i can easily spot one just by reading about it.You shouldn't attack random people on the internet,you are the one that needs to grow up.

ahmed_tawfeek98
ahmed_tawfeek98

 @leakky No,not the whole industry stopped.There are few gaming studios that are still trying to keep it real.

leakky
leakky

 @ahmed_tawfeek98 well..if u think the game industry no longer make fun game, just stop playing games man.

 

pauldanielj
pauldanielj

 @ahmed_tawfeek98  "Movie based"? What movie is this game based on? What the heck are you even talking about? If you've got some sort of grudge against the entire industry, go find a new hobby. Gamespot gave this game an 8.0, and most comments on here have been positive, so you have no basis for criticizing the game. I mean literally you have no basis for what you're saying, you're just babbling and whining for no purpose.

Sleeping Dogs More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Square Enix is resurrecting the game formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong from United Front Games.
    8.2
    Average User RatingOut of 2471 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Sleeping Dogs
    Developed by:
    United Front Games
    Published by:
    Square Enix
    Genres:
    Adventure, Open-World, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs