on October 13, 2012
Looking for a game to play before GTA V comes out? Well, you found it. First of all - Square Enix made this game, which is a good sign. Square Enix generally produces very high quality games and puts 110% effort into what they do. They are also the creators of the Final Fantasy franchise. What I like about Sleeping Dogs is that it took what GTA did and improved on a lot of things. It's very, very similar, but that's not a bad thing. I've beaten GTA twice and have 95% of trophies and have gone through SD once, so I think I can give a good comparison.
What's similar? It's open sandbox like GTA, so you can do all the things you'd expect like hijacking cars, beating up/killing whoever you want, getting chased by the cops, tons of side missions and random encounters, special "massages," taking taxis, listening to different radio stations, buying food to regenerate health, etc. etc. That part is very similar and doesn't deviate too much. The map on the bottom left is also very similar. You can use your cellphone like in GTA, but I personally think SD has made their cellphone a bit more sleek. One of the things I also really like about SD is when you are driving to a mission and it's marked on your map, the road points to you where to go, so you aren't staring at the map and crashing into things. That's pretty neat.
One of the annoying things about GTA is that it took forever to start earning money, but when you did it was a TON and you couldn't spend it on anything. In SD you can buy all sorts of swagger like clothes and cars. It also doesn't take ages to load from outfit to outfit, which was extremely annoying in GTA. Another improvement.
Storyline wise it's a little bit different, because Shei Wen is an undercover cop, not a full-blown criminal. However, he's not a totally clean cop (some depends on you) and is involved in a lot of morally ambiguous storylines. That's what happens when you're this undercover cop who is part of the Triad and become close to some of the people in it, at least in this world. You can still do whatever the heck you want, really. It will just hurt your "cop ranking."
That's another cool thing about this game. You can get EXP from Triad, "Face," and Cop actions, which is pretty neat. You can unlock special skills and wear special items depending on what you level up. GTA is completely missing an EXP system, so this is something neat and very "Square Enix" like. I appreciate how they added some RPG elements into it to make it more exciting.
Also, there is a noticeable lack of guns in this game and a focus on martial arts. The game says it's because it is more difficult to get guns in Hong Kong. Yes, that is true. You still use guns, but they are less prevalent than GTA and the kung fu system is really awesome. You feel like a really ninja when you play this game and get good at fighting. You can do special moves and also "environmental" moves, which is when you take someone and do something quite sick to them, like hanging them from a meat hook or throwing them in a furnace. It's pretty gruesome and like Manhunt or something.
Music = awesome. Square Enix is really well known for having great soundtracks, and this is no exception. Some of the music is just downright beautiful. You can change radio stations just like in GTA, except obviously, most music has an east side feel to it. Graphics? Nothing groundbreaking, but very similar to GTA, so not so bad.
I honestly don't know why this game is so underrated. It's on par with GTA, if not better. I guess everyone is so pumped up about GTA V that this has just gone under the radar. But it's seriously really, really good, and I've played almost all of the GTAs. Definitely get this!
UPDATE: One disappointing thing about this game is the ending - not the storyline, but the things you can do after the ending. You can still do sidequests and stuff, but unlike GTA, you can't talk to your friends anymore or go out with them, hang out with girls, build relationships, etc. That is kind of lame ;( They could have easily made interacting with characters a lot more in-depth, and I kind of expected that from a developer like Square Enix.