Sleeping Dogs Review
Varied missions, hard-hitting melee combat, and a captivating setting make Sleeping Dogs an enjoyable escapade.
- Savage melee combat
- Alluring atmosphere
- Fun driving and gunplay
- Varied missions
- Numerous collectibles to hunt down and other enjoyable diversions.
- Unattractive character models and environmental textures.
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.
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.
But Sleeping Dogs is more about wide-angle, big-picture atmosphere than about close-ups. 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.
@XxELLI-O-TRONxX But Playstation Plus isn't free :P
@The_Gaming_Baby @XxELLI-O-TRONxX its not free but its a pretty damn good value! I bought my subs when they offered 3 months free with 1 year, so 15 months for $50, I'm covered thru august 2014.
Now considering the amount of games I'm getting thru Plus, I'd say at least $100 worth per month, this is amazing. I may not have bought these games normally, but thats not to say I didnt want to try them. That's where the big deal in PS+ comes for me, I get to play all these games I would have loved to try, for less than the price of 1 game.
@The_Gaming_Baby You get 3 months for $17 ATM and I've downloaded $500 worth of games for that fee (closest thing to free i've seen)
@nanno111 I've got it on Xbox 360 and I think you should get that version. I would imagine the PC version to be rather clunky.
@nanno111 Looks much better on PC assuming your rig can handle it, but I'm playing through on PS3 at the moment and really enjoying it. I don't think there is much or any different between the PS3 or 360 version
I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be funny... but I can't tell if Carolyn is a man or woman??? Can anyone else tell?
On a sidenote... I thought this game was pretty awesome... although like most open world games these days, I didn't feel compelled to play through to the end.
@haze_blaze "Carolyn Petit has been reading GameSpot since 2000 and writing for it since 2008. She has a particular fondness for games of the 1980s, and intends to leave the field of games journalism as soon as she hears that her local Ghostbusters franchise is hiring.". And the fact that you feel the need to say that you're not trying to be funny indicates that you were being ignorant.
@shefo2012 i got stuck with the control in PC version.. i fight against deadly opponents and... the camera system
I think hes a great reviewer, but its situations like this when you see hype has a big affect on the critics. Look at ME3 (and im not even talking about the ending) and this which not only hovers around the 80 mark on Metacritic but few critics offer any real criticism of it.
@SilentAssassin Am I the only one who gets what you were trying to say? You weren't actually saying it's japanese made or anything; you were saying that it is very similar to the story and character development in GTA and Saint's Row, e.g. sandbox gameplay and NPCs asking you to do things, except set in Asia.
@AXTHEHAMMER It's not the Japanese version of anything. If you want a Japanese version, go play the Yakuza series.
@SilentAssassin please learn about the world before you speak... :)
@SilentAssassin Ignorance. That pretty much sums your comment up.
@SilentAssassin Hong Kong is in China.
@ratchet_ruler88 @SilentAssassin I said this is the Japanese VERSION I didn't say the game took place in Japan. This was made by Square Enix.. A Japanese COMPANY.. SLEEPING DOGS IS THE JAPENESE VERSION OF GTA or SAINTS ROW. and YES sleeping dogs takes place in HONG KONG which is CHINA it's still a JAPANESE GAME.. get it?
Got this game for "free" with a HD7950 Sapphire. Can't wait to build my latest gaming PC and try this game out. Looks like great fun, though I haven't watched the probably pessimistic and pedantic Gamespot review of it.
This game is very fun to play. Even the side missions are enjoyable to go along with a good main story. Worth your time and money.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game and while certain mini-games did get repetitive (mainly camera hacking) I overall really enjoyed it. I just wish there would have been more gunplay in it and the ability to carry more than one gun permanently (I realize there would be few guns in hong kong and that this was designed as a primarily martial arts game but I would have enjoyed a little more gunplay.)
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I was not expecting this game to be as good as it is. Played a demo version at Comic-Con, but they really tightened the controls. Not to mention that the story is pretty damn good with some excellent voice acting. Right up there with Vice City as my favorite sandbox game.
WORST Button configuration and Schematics on Controls for the Xbox 360, on PC this game ROCKS but the Xbox 360 version NEEDS a patch or update to better the Flimsy controls it has. This game is as bad as the Resident Evil 6 Demo, and has No where NEAR the control depth that GTA or Saints Row the Third has, as far as open world playing in a open world its not bad, but the Story line i have to agree is about almost as good as Max Payne 3, JUST FIX THE BUTTON SCHEMATICS!!!
@IpreferQuality I use my PS 3 controller on my PC :D Worked swell.
@IpreferQuality I found them intuitive and pretty easy actually... To each his own I guess.
I HATE GTA, but this game was great. STILL loving it.
"Unattractive character models" - Guess we know how Carolyn feels about Chinese people... Models were fine. This was an AMAZINGLY fun game. If you're a fan of GTA or sandbox games, it's a MUST play.
ya, that is a weird reasoning for this game to be bad...
i thought the models looked good...
i have no clue what she means by that
the only model that i thought was terrible, was the bird that you get for your apartment...
the detail on it was lacking but, that is only if i was super knit picking on something small
- Player Reviews: 30
- Game Universe:
- True Crime: Streets of LA (GC, XBOX, PS2, MAC, PC),
- True Crime: New York City (XBOX, PS2, GC, PC, X360, PSP),
- Sleeping Dogs (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Dragon Master Pack (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Drunken Fist Pack (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Square Enix Character Pack (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Gangland Style Pack (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Zodiac Tournament Pack (X360, PS3, PC),
- Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (X360, PS3, PC)