Review by Parabellum09

"Great fun, but not without it's flaws."

Sleeping dogs is a open-world crime thriller. You play as Wei Shen, a under-cover Hong Kong cop who has no limits when it comes to doing his job. Wei Shen has been tasked with bringing down the Sun-Un-Ye, a powerful triad family in Hong Kong.

Like other games of films of this nature our protoganist makes short work of getting in deep with the triad gang; starting out at the bottom and working their way up and as you do so earning access to more of the city, flashy cars, lush abodes and more meaty weaponry.

STORY:
Wei-Shen is a cop who will stop at nothing to accomplish his tasks, this often is cause for concern from his commanding superiors but one Police Commander; Pendrew has a mission tailored to Wei. Bringing down the Sun-Un-Ye.

Wei easily uses his roots in Hong Kong to get himself into the employment a Winston Chu, a low level officer in the triad. Through Winston Wei proves himself a capable and trust worthy member. However as he involvement in the mission progresses Wei becomes more attached to members in the gang, in particular a child hood friend named Jackie. Wei's alleigences are thrown in to question multiple times throughout the story.

It's fairly standard as far as these stories go, but Sleeping Dogs' narrative is quite a strong one and punctuates throughout the entire game. It works well and urges the player forward. There are some disjointed missions which effect the flow of the story early on and towards the end it catches up with itself very quickly to the point of feeling rushed but as far as plots go this one is very enjoyable, even if slightly predictable but most players will find themselves wrapped up the narrative.

AUDIO
Sleeping Dogs' sound design is done very well. Sound effects are spot on and help bring the city to life. There is an abundance of music from all forms of the genre so there is plenty of selection and pretty much something for everyone. Even the Karaoke cover tracks are done very well.

The only place that the audio fails is on the voice acting, dialogue is pretty decent for this style of game and while some characters are perfectly voiced, such as Wei Shen himself and Jackie, other characters and pretty much every NPC have a stock stereotypical Chinese accent in English which brings the audio quality down.

GAMEPLAY
Final Frontiers have put a lot of emphasis into the gameplay and it's paid off. Using the best elements of melee, shooting and driving delivers a not so realistic gameplay but very fun.

Melee is more or less straight out of the recent Batman games with an emphasis on crowd control and counters, throw in some environmental insta-kills and you'll find yourself slamming heads into vent shafts by the dozen.

Wei can also learn new attacks by collecting statues stolen from a Kung Fu teacher's dojo. Plus some general upgrades earned from missions means that the melee is an evolving form of combat.

Sleeping Dogs melee system is very strong and they've taken every opportunity to exploit it and mix things up. Solid and strong throughout.

Gunplay takes a bit of cover shooting and throws in a bit of Max Payne bullet time (albeit context sensitive) and lets you have fun killing. If anything any shoot out segments are decidedly easy, pinning head shots is like shooting fish in a barrel and it's not impossible to chain head shots maintaining slow motion until all bad guys are dead. It's fun, but don't expect a challenge.
There's not a huge amount of weaponry but what there is works.

Driving is quite fun, with an emphasis on two wheels. One thing done very well is implementing combat into driving, with context slow-motion shooting and driving has been made hassle free.

Cars and bikes do not drive realistically but this leaves less of a learning curve allowing the player to just jump in. Thrown in is some over the top action elements such as leaping from one car to the next in a "hijack" manouver, but it's pretty fun.

The pacing of the game is slow at first, evens out and eventually speeds up towards the end. It's an odd flow and will no doubt leave some players wondering how far through the game they actually are.

There is aplenty to be getting on with and as you progress through the game more side quests and mini-games will be unlocked. From Drug Busts to betting on Cock Fighting, it's all there to do in Hong Kong.

Replayability is debatable and will vary depending on how much each player has invested into the game. There are plenty of specific acheivements to hunt for the 1000 gamerscore on offer and plenty of downloadable content from new vehicles to missions.

OVERALL
Sleeping Dogs is an exceptionally fun game to play, if these open-world games are your thing Hong Kong brings a eastern sylish niche to the market. Worth every penny, but remember to be forgiving and don't take the action seriously.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/09/13

Game Release: Sleeping Dogs (EU, 08/17/12)


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