on August 17, 2012
I can not stress enough how generally uninterested I am in games like Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, and other sandbox style games in a big city. I find, too often, that I get bored quickly with what there is to do and sadly the stories lack anything to keep me interested. That said,, I should note I loved Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, and all of the sand boxing in the Assassin's Creed games. The stories and game mechanics are what get me more interested than anything else.
I expected this game to be as its peers in terms of having a relatively dull story, decent music, and fun guns/cars to play around with until I felt like I'd misspent my money. Sleeping Dogs, however, is absolutely phenomenal. I knew little about the game before I Redbox-ed it on a whim, but I was so incredibly impressed that I went out and bought it the following day. Few things these days are a release week purchase for me, especially games I had not anticipated buying or heard very little about. This game stands above and beyond its car jacking peers with a great story, tons of missions, and so many extra activities I'm not sure I'll be able to do them all.
Mechanically the game is an amalgam of an assortment of great titles. The gunplay is on par, if not smoother, with Uncharted; the brawling is as seamless as Arkham City or any of the Assassin's Creed games; and the driving is some of the best I have ever enjoyed, though I'm not much of a driving game player. The graphics are absolutely stunning and cutscenes are great! The texture quality is fantastic, and it's a game like this that stuns me completely that, visually especially, game designers are still able to do something better than the last new big thing on this generation's hardware!
I can not more highly recommend this game!
on August 16, 2012
I am admittedly a GTA fanboy. I play a lot of sandbox games, and I often enjoy them... but usually with the caveat "It's nowhere near as good as GTA, but it's still pretty good."
Well, Sleeping Dogs *is* nearly as good as GTA and that's saying a lot coming from me. Personally I think it's more similar to GTA IV than any other game. To many, that's an insult. From me, it's very high praise. The only real flaw I see here is that the driving is a tad wonky, with twitchy steering control. It takes a lot of getting used to. So did GTA IV's driving, but once I was used to it I thought it was arguably the best driving control and physics outside of a few dedicated racing games. I really don't see that happening here. The fact that there's no option to switch to a first person or on-the-hood camera is an unforgivable sin. I can understand why they don't do that in Saints Row, but there's nothing stopping them from implementing it here. All of the driving mechanics would still work perfectly well, including the "Action Hijack" feature where you jump from your car to another. That's what the green arrow icon is for, after all. In the final analysis, this is the closest thing to a "major flaw" I can think of. It doesn't really make a dent in the overall awesomeness of the game. The relatively small city and lack of flying vehicles are non-issues.
The combat is more focused on hand to hand than gunplay. As I'm sure many others have said, it's pretty similar to the Arkham games. Another good comparison would be Assassin's Creed, which also emphasizes/rewards countering incoming attacks rather than simply attacking on your own.
The icing on the cake is the dialogue. The voice acting in general is surprisingly good. A lot of random dialogue is surprisingly hilarious. The kung fu instructor is a particular favorite, e.g. while you're hard at work training against a bunch of his students, he suggests that you previously studied martial arts at "the School of Never Winning" and that you worship "the God of Weakness".
All of that said, while I still wouldn't call these "major" flaws there are a couple of things that do annoy me a little:
* Disappearing weapons- In this game, weapons are basically treated as temporary power ups. Melee weapons break after you use them too much, I'm fine with that. But guns just mysteriously disappear from your inventory for no apparent reason. I get what the developer was trying to do, i.e. keep the focus on martial arts hand-to-hand combat. But artificially limiting what the player can do is anathema to the whole sandbox game play philosophy. It's about letting the player do what they want to do at all times. I can honestly say that I probably would have kept my weapon holstered and used martial arts for most of the combat, because the game has a robust combat system that's fun and satisfying. They should have trusted in that. It's just annoying that my weapons kept magically evaporating into thin air between missions. Breaks the immersion.
* Another immersion breaking problem I had was too much "warping" around the world. i.e. A cutscene plays out with dialogue which indicates where to go to begin a mission, the screen fades to black, and then suddenly I find myself halfway across the city, at the location. No, no, no. Just tell me where to go and then let me get there on my own. Add some kind of fast travel option for people who prefer that, but don't force it by default. This is basic sandbox game design, guys.
Bottom line is that you get a nice decent sized city to mess around in, the missions are engaging with good variety (aside from standard combat "go to location X and kill person Y" there's hacking cameras, tracing cell phone calls, unscrewing air vent covers, planting bugs, etc.) the side activities are plentiful and fun, everything looks great, they did a good job on the music... it's just an excellent high quality package in general.
on August 15, 2012
Sleeping Dogs is a game that almost never saw the light of day, which is shocking considering how good this game turned out. Starting life as Black Lotus, a new original IP from United Front Games, it starred a female protagonist and had a lot of potential. Then Activision came in and basically said, "Hey, United Front Games, we have this IP called True Crime, so why not take the core parts of Black Lotus and turn it into a True Crime game?", and thus, True Crime: Hong Kong was born. Showing a ton of potential, True Crime: Hong Kong came out swinging with positive press and gamer reactions, then Activision suddenly canceled it out of nowhere, because they said it couldn't compete with other games in the genre, couldn't sell as many units as they wanted, couldn't crack a specific Metacritic rating, and didn't meet the standard for Activision games, even though they put out Prototype 2 this year, which isn't nearly as good as Sleeping Dogs in any category. Activision has also put out games like Blood Drive and has a new mediocre Nascar game in the pipeline. Needless to say, Activision was making up a bunch of excuses, as if their whole catalog is some masterful thing, but they only have two games out of many which are selling well, and those are Call of Duty and Skylanders. Like Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero, Activision will drive those into the ground, if they haven't already. Anyways, after a bunch of upset gamers voiced their concerns on the internet, Square Enix came to save the day, which was the greatest thing to ever happen, as described by one Sleeping Dogs developer. Square Enix allowed the game to get more polish, better publicity via game trailers and commercials, and have shown the game respect, whereas Activision probably would've just let it out into the wild and let it fend for itself. Square Enix has really shown their desire to succeed in the western game market with fantastic titles like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Sleeping Dogs, and the upcoming Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider reboot.
Now onto the actual game.
Story, Voice Acting, Characters - Sleeping Dogs has a lot of talent, all lending to the story, voice acting, and the cast of characters. In many pre-release trailers and previews, they pointed out Hollywood talent like Emma Stone, but just about everyone here contributes their voice talents to make the story and characters interesting and fully realized. While the story isn't original, it's done so well that originality isn't necessary. This is a game that knows what it wants to be and completely succeeds at it. This is a top notch production from beginning to end.
Graphics, Atmosphere - Without a doubt, Sleeping Dogs is my favorite looking game of this kind. To compare, you have Grand Theft Auto IV and the Saints Row games, and I believe Sleeping Dogs is the most impressive looking of the bunch. While the map is smaller and surely allows for more details, it's those details that make the world feel like it's living and breathing, which adds to the overall atmosphere of this beautiful world that is yours to explore and discover all of the little secrets it has packed within it.
Driving, Shooting, Melee, Parkour - The core gameplay in Sleeping Dogs offers a lot of variety. The driving is fun and arcade-like, so the handling is simple and intuitive, but it offers depth, like ramming your enemies off of the road or jumping from your car to another car and jacking it. The shooting is basic, so it doesn't offer much depth, but there is a bullet-time feature, a la Max Payne, which makes gun combat really fun, though it must be noted that gun combat is not the focus of the game. Now onto melee, which is the focus of the game, is similar to the combat in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, meaning it's a ton of fun and pretty stylish. In addition, you can use context-sensitive environmental attacks, allowing you to shove an enemy's head in a fan, throw him in a dumpster, impale him on swordfish, etc. It's all handled pretty gracefully and flows together nicely. Now onto the parkour, which is a real blast. Your character can climb, jump, leap, etc., so your character has real agility and makes you feel like you can get away from any bad situation or chase after those who are trying to escape you.
If you can't already tell, I love Sleeping Dogs. There's some minor draw-in or pop-in when driving at fast speeds, and there may be some tiny little issues like any other game of this scale, but every single thing that's important to the game is spot-on. This is a finely crafted world with a story to keep you interested and the gameplay to keep you having fun. Don't let this dog sleep, get Sleeping Dogs ASAP.
on April 29, 2014
Sleeping Dogs is one of those games you play and wonder, "Why was this not more popular?" Think of it as GTA set in Asia.
SD has a great story. You play an undercover cop who's just returned from the US and infiltrates the Hong Kong triad. However as you progress through the game, your character starts to wonder where his loyalties should really be placed. Add to the excellent story, there're some excellent voice acting by a surprising number of A-list actors.
The main missions are well thought out and appropriate to the story. There are also dozens of side missions that increase your cop ranking or fighting skills which gain you abilities. There are also Face missions that grant you other bonuses. The fighting is a great bonus and one that I really enjoyed - you get to fight large groups of enemies and use combinations to take them down Bruce Lee style. Alternatively you can pick up a weapon (cleaver, knife, gun, etc) and start blasting away...your choice. You can also (a la GTA) steal/car jack cars but if you do, the HKPD will be on your trail.
Along the way, you collect cars, clothing, and apartments as you gain money, influence, and progress through the main story.
Probably the biggest reason why this game didn't do better are the graphics. They're dated.
Typical to 99% of XBox games, very sparce documentation. I didn't find out until the end of the game that you could hire a taxi by holding the Y key and be transported immediately to a desired destination. Would have saved me a lot of time driving to/from different locations.
All in all, a great game and one that I'm thankful I got to play.