Sleeping Dogs, the latest open world action game from Square Enix, has generated a lot of interest. Classified as the righteous successor to the legendary, but now forgotten, True Crime series from Activision, Sleeping Dogs has everything that an open world game should have, plot, characters, unique game mechanics, breathtaking visuals, you name it.
So, the Granddaddy of GTA? Whoa! Big words right there, don’t you think? Well, the good part is that it’s all true and the game does everything better than GTA and a lot more! So, are you ready to get lost in this amazingly huge & detailed world and step into the shoes of Wei Shen, the game’s stylish, skilled & potent protagonist? Well then, read on!
Welcome to Hong Kong, Mr. Shen
Before we begin, let me acquaint you with the backdrop of the game. Sleeping Dogs takes you through the bustling city of Hong Kong and puts you in the shoes of Wei Shen, an undercover Chinese-American cop who has infiltrated the most feared crime organization in Hong Kong, The Triad.
From there on, it is a game that progresses according to the choices you make, the missions you complete and the gang you side with. Would you be a diligent undercover cop and work towards bringing The Triad down from within? Or would you rather be the cop who defects to the underworld after knowing the riches, charm and power associated with his newfound identity? The choice is completely yours!
The USP of Sleeping Dogs lies in the fun you have while making each of these choices. In fact, your choices have choices, it’s like Choice-ception (Christopher Nolan would be proud). Want to avenge the death of your fellow member at the hands of a rival gang, you can choose between blowing up the boss and killing one of his head honchos. Decided on killing the head honcho? You can choose among martial arts, guns and a car bomb to get the job done. Hope you get the drift there.
The Barks & the Wheezes
Although the game is quite exceptional, Sleeping Dogs has its share of the barks and the wheezes (If you still haven’t figured it out, I am talking about pros & cons, duh!).
As soon as I powered up the game, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the surroundings looked. The graphics and the extremely detailed city is one of the barks from Sleeping Dogs. The city actually feels lively and connected to each of the choices made during the course of the game.
As I progressed, I found the city to be extremely believable, like a part of the game experience was because of the city itself. The immersion, realism, over chatty ladies in the streets and exceptional voice acting are some factors that contribute to this aspect of Sleeping Dogs.
The plot is another loud bark from Sleeping Dogs and is well complemented by the mechanics of the game. Your life as an undercover cop and a member of The Triad, the choices you make during the game and the constant tussle between morals and the charm of the Underworld contribute to the plot heavily.
The game’s leveling system is one example of how everything you do impacts the plot and the outcome. There are three areas where you gain experience points, Cop, Triad and Face. During any mission, your actions determine the points you would gain in each area. For example, I completed a mission where there was a lot of damage to public property and some innocents were killed. In this scenario, I gained major points in the Triad area while losing major points in the Cop area. This system is the game’s way of telling you how good or bad you have been as a cop and as a gangster.
The Face is another area which corresponds to how the public of Hong Kong perceives you. For instance, if I were to help some random people by chasing off the thieves, I would get lots of points in the Face meter. Over time, this Face meter can be helpful in carrying out certain missions and side jobs.
The combat system is an area where the game truly shines. The melee combat system is exceptionally well thought and executed and it reminds you of the fights in legendary Bruce Lee movies (Enter the Dragon, anyone?). It again comes down to a matter of choice. You can use guns to finish the jobs quickly or enter the fray with your fists and a kitchen knife thrown in occasionally. This aspect gets full marks from my side for being innovative and actually favoring hand to hand combat more than shooting and bombing. And did I tell you that you would want to go and repeat some missions just because you would get another shot at pulling off those cool moves?
While the game has a good share of barks, Sleeping Dogs has some wheezes too. One major wheeze is the camera that can actually make certain situations very frustrating. One example is driving down the streets of Hong Kong and jumping to switch cars in the middle, only to find a bad camera angle covering my stunt and making me fail. Damn you camera! Some graphical bugs and texture problems can lead to a game crash sometimes, but that’s it. I found the game to be quite stable otherwise.
I will give Sleeping Dogs 9.0 out of 10 because of the superb voice overs, a deep plot, a smart leveling system and the insanely fun hand to hand combat system. While it is true that the camera and graphics issues do kill the fun sometimes, they are not that big a hindrance. I would recommend this game to anyone wanting to break free from the GTA mold and see what an open world game is capable of. I would also recommend this game to anyone even moderately interested in Bruce Lee and hand to hand combat.
If you think I have missed out on any aspect of the game you loved, feel free to mention it in the comments. I would love to hear about your experience with the game, especially any interesting chitchat with the locals in the game! Alright, I am back to my side missions, see you later. Thanks for reading!