Review by Galactus21
"Neither black nor white is a world full of grey"
In a city where the triads reign supreme, it takes a brave soul to infiltrate and bring down those organizations. Sleeping Dogs is set in the mecca of a fictional Hong Kong brought to life. The game follows Wei Shen, an undercover police officer tasked with infiltrating the Sun On Yee and bringing down the leaders of the triad. Starting out as a low level grunt in the gang, Wei climbs up in the gang's hierarchy. During his upward climb, Wei faces important dilemmas as he weighs decisions that call into struggle regarding his police and triad life.
Sleeping Dogs presents a vibrant open ended city filled with main missions and side quests. As you traverse through this open ended world, you will have an opportunity to interact with the characters. Along the way, you'll also get steal some cars and cause mayhem that will be the envy of other gangsters. The fictitious Hong Kong, along with the solid blending of Cantonese and English provide an atmospheric setting that is probably Sleeping Dogs' brightest spot. The Hong Kong crime setting helped enhance the overall experience.
The combat in Sleeping Dogs is relatively simple. It's fairly solid and effective throughout, but does get a bit repetitive. One bright spot however is the environmental usage during combat. During combat situations, the environment is used relatively effectively. Wei has the ability to use his surroundings during combat, such as throwing someone in a dumpster or onto sharp objects. This environmental utilization flows well and does not feel forced.
Sleeping Dogs combat consists of counters, attacks, grappling, and environmental attacks. The layout of the buttons allow players to string combos together or counter pretty intuitively. Grappling is also fairly well implemented, as I am able to latch on to an enemy and perform Judo like throw. During encounters with numerous enemies, countering becomes important. For the most part, this flows pretty well. Even during a combination, Wei can switch gears and counter an enemy attack fluidly. In addition, having the ability to mix in your environments to your attacks added some eye popping visuals and devastating capstone to your combinations. With that said over the course of the game's fairly lengthy campaign, the combat does get a little dry.
When taking both the combat and gunplay into account, the combat certainly shines more brightly. During fire fights, the usage of guns weren't bad, but it certainly could have used extra fine tuning. The cover and fire were hampered by fairly poor controls, so I found on several occasions that I was unable to get into cover effectively. As a result, I was mowed down. Wielding weapons also felt loose and could have been tightened a bit. During fierce fire fights, there are still some fun to be had though.
To touch on the game's controls, it felt a bit clunky at times. This is especially true when Wei is on foot and I try to maneuver and jump. At times I had trouble jumping onto platforms that I wanted due to the controls. Additionally, the driving controls weren't as slick as I liked it to be. This is especially true when one tries to make quick turns.
The game's soundtrack was excellent, with a blend of different music. When Wei hijacks various cars, one can also listen to Chinese music, which help enhance the overall experience. There are also karaoke sections in the game. While the game play part of it isn't the most fun, the extra soundtracks are a plus and help bring to life Hong Kong's karaoke scene. In addition, the blend of Cantonese voice acting also enhanced the game's atmosphere. Moreover, the way the lines are delivered does not seem corny. It felt more like a 90s Hong Kong movie. The mixture of English and Cantonese was also particularly well executed.
The graphics in Sleeping Dogs were a bit underwhelming however. Character models weren't very detail, nor as sharp as could be. While the city is filled with color and detail, such as restaurant signs in Chinese, the subpar textures didn't allow one to be fully wowed by this open ended world. On a bright side, the game did run at a very smooth rate despite the large city that one was in.
For some of the game's drawbacks however, the game's strong source material, environment, and characters bring this large world to life. While some of the game play could have used extra fine tuning, the amount of action that occurs along with the breadth of activities makes Sleeping Dog a solid first outing. The game is fairly long, where repetitiveness at times sets in. While the game certainly isn't addictive that draws your complete attention in, the game was solid and fun for the most part. With the cheap price, I'd certainly recommend picking this up for some good ol' action.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/18/13
Game Release: Sleeping Dogs (US, 08/14/12)
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