Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars San Andreas and Shenmue 2's spiritual successor?, August 27, 2012
This review is from: Sleeping Dogs [Download] (Software Download)
I hardly finish games any more nowadays because the stories just don't keep me engaged enough throughout. Sleeping Dogs has bucked that trend and I'll tell you why.

TLDR version:
1. I like open world games.
2. I like games with a great story that is consistent with great characters.
3. I loved Shenmue 1 & 2. The gameplay on that one was not particularly great, but the story was amazing.
4. I disliked GTA 4 but loved San Andreas. I disliked Red Dead Redemption.
5. I love, love Sleeping Dogs.

Open World - An open world should allow you to do anything you want. You can follow the main missions or you can play side missions. There should also be a sense of progression for your character. San Andreas had this. GTA 4 didn't. In this game, you can earn money which allows you buy cars and clothings. It's more realistic in that to own a car, you have to buy it even though you can jack any car on the street. In GTA 4 failed because your character can earn money but there was nothing to buy! In GTA games, you can go treasure hunting which only adds to your completion rate but doesn't really add anything to your game. In this game, looking for items either improve your (a) life meter or (b) grant you new fighting moves. It gives you a reason to look for hidden items throughout the map.

Story: Like Shenmue, there are memorable characters here. The supporting characters are top notch. The writing is absolutely terrific. Unlike Red Dead and GTA 4, supporting characters are not throwaway without motives, feelings, and act as props for the mission only. Here, each mission connect, with reoccurring characters that matter. As Wei go from rags to riches and move up the chain in the Triads, his internal conflicts and divided loyalty between the cops and his buddies in the Triad manifest itself in both the dialogues and the police profiles. Unlike Saints Row, this game takes itself seriously without being a chore like GTA 4. Sure, the story is a mash up of many HK movies, but the bottom line is do you care about the characters? If the answer is yes, then the writers have succeeded.

Gameplay: This is an open world RPG. There is always a sense of progression. You start as a lowly thug with a crappy apartment where you can buy an upgraded bed and air conditioning to eventually earning a penthouse in SOHO. As you play the cop missions, you unlock new moves. As you date more girls, you unlock Karaoke songs and the ability to sense hidden items on the maps. As you play the Triad missions, you likewise unlock new abilities. Also, gaining face levels afford you the ability to buy better clothing which give you bonuses to your XP gain. Additionally, your face meter also unlocks new abilities. You want better bling, you have gotta improve your face level. People around you react differently to what you wear. Very cool.

The combat doesn't flow like Batman Arkham Asylum. It takes a little more strategy to beat rather than mindless mashing the buttons. The trick is to just time your counter. Don't try to grapple the big guy. Always take your energy drink, herbal tea, and eat food before you start a mission. Without it, your health doesn't regenerate quickly. Use your face meter as a limit break to quickly destroy the big enemies. Since it has RPG elements, you need to unlock better moves and/or face meter bonuses to quickly dispatch enemies.

Comparison to GTA and Red Dead: I beat GTA 4 but I hated it. I never finished Red Dead Redemption. The sole reason for me to continue a game is for it to have a consistent, compelling story that makes you want to beat it. The missions should make sense rather than for it to occur so you can waste more time shooting more people. There should be a cohesive story that ties a game together. I don't see that in GTA 4 or Red Dead Redemption. With those two games, it seemed like 5 different writers wrote the missions and the stories for the missions have no coherent arc with throwaway characters in between. Just like a good movie, there needs to be character development, a story arc, motives, and a sense of progression. If the game doesn't have that, then it loses me halfway through. I haven't had as much satisfaction playing a video game like this since Shenmue 2.

Sleeping Dogs is one of the best open world game in a long, long time. I haven't had this much fun since the original GTA: San Andreas. It's as if they took San Andreas and combine it with Shemues' writing and made a game out of it. Highly recommended and I hope this sell enough for a sequel.

I originally had the Xbox version but bought the PC version since it has HD textures. The game looks superb on the PC and it runs very well. I'm looking forward to mods for this game from the community.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 27, 2012 3:05:28 PM PDT
Unit543 says:
Great review,wish the game had a longer storyline though :)

Posted on Aug 28, 2012 5:47:05 AM PDT
Redwaltz says:
You didn't like Red Dead Redemption and didn't think it didn't have a compelling storyline? You must not like Westerns.

Posted on Aug 28, 2012 8:14:22 AM PDT
KD says:
I do like Westerns. Unfortunately, I was bored with Red Dead since the story didn't hold me. It had too many throwaway characters. Unfortunately, most games nowadays focus entirely on gameplay and don't give the storyline and character development the focus it deserves. A recent example is Darksiders 2. The game seemed fun initially, but after 8 hours of jumping from one puzzle to the other, it lost me. Why am I here? What am I doing? What is my motives? A great story is the glue that holds everything together. Without it, there's no way I invest 20 hours into a game. With Red Dead, I gave up after 10 hours, because once you understand the game play, the story is what keeps you playing. I'm sure had I made it to the end, the story may have gotten better. However, after GTA 4, I refuse to force myself to finish a game I dislike for a payoff that may never happen.

Posted on Sep 13, 2012 5:00:21 PM PDT
Mudd says:
I'm interesting in this game for the PC; how is the mouse-keyboard controls? Do you think the control works better on the PC or the Xbox360? Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2012 5:07:18 PM PDT
KD says:
Mouse and keyboard is fine. I play on PC with an Xbox controller though.

Posted on Sep 28, 2012 9:35:15 AM PDT
techmannn says:
worth reading review! thanks

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 10:07:45 AM PDT
Justin Cline says:
You don't think there was character development in GTAIV? I'm inclined to say you never beat GTAIV based on your comments in that regard. Niko's character was very well developed throughout the story and almost none of the supporting characters were 'throwaway' as you insist on. Seriously, how can a supporting character be 'throwaway' when they had personalities and even called you to hang out with them?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 1:52:09 PM PDT
KD says:
Did you just call me a liar?

"Hey cuz, let's go bowling!" Is not character development. Personality is a part of character development, but it in itself is not character development. GTA IV tries to be satire, which is succeeds at, but good story telling has to have more than satire. Satire by itself should not be the star, but a theme behind a great story with great characters. Does the character have motives, angst, personality? Why is he doing what he's doing? There needs to be an character arc, and actions should be driven by it and propels the story forward. A guy that calls you up to go bowling is not that.

Dialogues should also be used to tell a story, describe motives, connect one person to another. It should also connect one mission to the other. GTA IV had lots of dialogues that say nothing at all. Most missions doesn't flow. You go from one mission to another without feeling connections between them, as if each was written by a separate writer. Dialogues by itself is not storytelling if it doesn't flow, it's just merely fillers.

I read books and I watch movies in addition to playing games. Character development and story telling in video games are so far behind cinema, it's pretty sad. Movies is again far behind books in story telling and character development. Some rare games succeed at story telling which is also part of the reasons why they're beloved with a cult following, regardless if it's not a critical success (Shenmue 1 & 2 for example). Why was San Andreas such a beloved game? It had great stories and characters even if the story was partly a rip off of Boyz N the Hood and other similar movies. It also had progression, rags to riches story line, money that you can use to buy things. GTA IV had none of that.

If you're going to accuse me of not playing GTA IV, then I suggest you play Sleeping Dogs first. Once you do that, you can then compare and contrast the characters and villains of Sleeping Dogs with GTA IV. You can then tell me which game has the better story and the better characters.
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4.2 out of 5 stars (148 customer reviews)
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