Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sleeping Dogs Review


Sleeping Dogs Briefing 

Sleeping Dogs is a game that pulled its own little miracle to be here. After the planned title True Crime Hong Kong was dropped and canceled by Activision due to high development costs and delays, Square Enix came along and pulled the game back on its feet by purchasing the publishing rights. Some were surprised by this as Square Enix is best known for the Final Fantasy franchise and many wondered where the titan developer would take the game. And though True Crime Hong Kong has been reincarnated as Sleeping Dogs , the question still remains: Did Square Enix revive the fallen game and deliver with Sleeping Dogs? Or is the game an unfortunate swing and a miss?

Sleeping Dogs Story

The premise and overall story of Sleeping Dogs is in no way original. There have been undercover games before it and in movies and T.V. shows. Here's the rundown. Players will take on the role of Wei Shen, a Hong Kong native who's been living in the United States. Cetain events transpire and Shen takes on the role of an undercover cop to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad and avenge the death of a loved one. Now, we've all seen the movies and T.V. shows wherein the protagonist undercover cop may be a little in over his/her head and finds some common ground with whatever crime syndicate they're infiltrating. And Sleeping Dogs, as I said before, is by no means original in this regard. But, what we as movie and telivision viewers don't get to do is decide the actions and decisions of the protagonist. And that's where Sleeping Dogs really ensnares the player.

Sleeping Dogs Martial Arts

Sleeping Dogs has more emphasis on melee fighting rather than the the typical run and gun of True Crime. And this makes sense as people aren't allowed to walk around with guns in Hong Kong, I think arms are even outlawed. Anyway, while some may not like this at first as they've become accustomed to spraying bullets in the True Crime games, Sleeping Dogs manages to make it work. Now, I have some very positive things to say about this new emphasis. And there are some things the combat could certainly improve upon. Let's start with what it does right, keep it positive.

Sleeping Dogs E3 Trailer Youtube by coinoptv

Sleeping Dogs Combos, Weapons, and Takedowns 

The combat in Sleeping Dogs is somewhat similar to games such as Batman Arkham City. You know a game nails a certain mechanic if game after game utilizes a similar formula, albeit with various levels of success. Sleeping Dogs will have players stringing together combos in a mix of martial arts and boxing style moves. The most useful feature is dodging attacks and taking advantage of the opportunity to dish out some serious damage with counter attacks. As a martial artist myself, it's pretty cool to see a game that actually uses real self defense. There are games out there that go for the over the top combat, but some games like Sleeping Dogs would just look silly doing acrobatic flips and defying gravity and the laws of physics to beat their enemies into mush. Of course, to liven things up a bit, there are times when Shen will have the opportunity to do something that even some of the most experienced fighters couldn't do because... well, they're human and bound by the limitations that come with reality. But nonetheless, it's gratifying to see real blocks, parries, grapples, throws, and strikes that come from real martial arts principles and practices. And what players will love is that they can use the environment around them to smash, impale, crush, slash, smack, bludgeon, and even blow up their enemies, and it looks really cool. Brutal would be an understatement.

Sleeping Dogs Karate Chop

Now for what the combat in Sleeping Dogs does wrong. From what I've read in other reviews, people seem to think the animations during combat are crisp, clean, and fluent, transition from one form to the next in a seamless manner. But I have to say, I strongly disagree. Much of what I say in the animations seemed choppy, and even laggy at times. I experienced some solid movement that seemed just fine one moment, and then really weird chop and lag the next. I asked a bud of mine and he said since I mentioned it, he's noticed the same thing with his game. Me, playing on PS3, he on 360.


Sleeping Dogs Hong Kong

The open world of Hong Kong is loosely based on the city itself, with obvious exceptions. It would be near impossible to model the whole city street for street, building for building. What I like about this open world is that the city itself is detailed and seems very much alive as it's actually populated by people simply going about their business. Far too many open world games are sparse have an almost unsettling empty feeling to them. However, if one were to look into just about anything, whether its the overall environment or the people a bit too closely, the illusion can be shattered. As an example, from a distance, or if you're simply not paying attention, the people going about their lives seem fine visually, but when you get up close and personal, they may appear to be like Chinese Barbie and Ken dolls.

Sleeping Dogs RPG Elements

The leveling system in Sleeping Dogs really helps create the sense of turmoil  and conflict of Shen, which is what the story is really about at its core. Where do Shen's loyalties lie? With the police or the Triads? Leveling branches off into three branches in Sleeping dogs. The two main branches as I'll call them, are police experience and Triad experience. Each branch provides different benefits to Shen. For example, beating the snot out of people during missions in effective, efficient, and creative (brutal in other words) yields high experience points for the Triad branch. After which time, Shen can learn better combat abilities, for example. Playing the good cop, completing missions without destroying whole city blocks, killing people, damaging property  etc, will earn and keep points for the police branch and Shen gains bonuses in, say, weapons such as guns.

Sleeping Dogs Martial Ats Youtube by VisoGAMES

Sleeping Dogs High Speed Pursuits

 One of the best things about Sleeping Dogs is the parts of the game where the player grinds through the city in a high speed pursuit spraying bullets and sewing chaos and mayhem down every unfortunate street in which the pursuit takes place. Similar to Just Cause 2, though perhaps not as Hollywood-esque, players can hijack rides. Taking aim and shooting out tires isn't exactly hard by any means, but is thrilling nonetheless. And leaping from one vehicle to the next and taking out the driver never gets old. The whole experience feels like a top dollar summer action movie.

Sleeping Dogs Summer Action Blockbuster 

In hindsight, I guess I should rephrase what I said about guns. Though melee is the main focus of combat in Sleeping Dogs, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of gun skirmishes in the game. And while the game mechanics are pretty much your standard fare when it comes to gunplay, Sleeping Dogs does add some grandeur to the gameplay. When players vault over cover, the game slips into a slow motion mode which allows players to accurately place shots. But my favorite thing about the gunplay is that in many ways it works in conjunction with hand to hand combat. Disabling and disarming an armed thug and then blasting him away with his own weapon has a very sadistic satisfaction. And dare I say, even a degree of condescension as you dispatch foes unworthy of dying an honorable death in a real fight in hand to hand combat.

Sleeping Dogs Mini Games and Collectables

There are some mini games to be had in Sleeping Dogs. at times, Shen must crack safes, track cell phone signals, hack cameras and even partake in some karaoke. For some laughs, do what I did. Wait until Shen is bruised and bloody before going up on stage. Its funny to see a beat up guy singing in front of a crowd that is oblivious and doesn't seem to even notice the half-dead man singing in front of them. These mini games are amusing for a few minutes, but then become tedious and boring. Think of matching the codes in Mass Effect 2, or the horrible mining. Amusing at first for the first thirty seconds, and then just a chore to do soon after. The only real incentive to do the karaoke, besides laughing at Shen, is raising Shen's Face level. Think of Face as his overall popularity. His street cred. Whatever you want to call it. With higher Face levels, Shen can purchase better food, nice clothes, and better vehicles to crash into thugs and thieves trying to make an escape.


Sleeping Dogs Side Missions

There are some side quests and things to do around town, but most are kind of bland and ever boring. Most either have Shen coning a thief into stealing his money, chasing the thief down, and then beating him within an inch of the miserable wretch's life. Others involve driving in the get-away vehicle. Shen can even "date" some characters. There's even a stupid mission where Shen can stalk one of his "girlfriends" he suspects is cheating on him and confront her and her second squeeze. And if you have any decency you'll wonder where this guy gets off trashing his girl for cheating on him when he has two or three other girlfriends on the side. and this actually takes away from the character. Here you're taking part in the story of a hardened undercover cop, a job that require men and women of steel to even get through the day, only to turn around and stalk a girlfriend in the most immature, insecure, and hypocritical manner possible. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! It's a joke. Really, it's like the biggest white trash moment I've ever played in a video game. Well, towards the top at the very least. Jerry Springer jokes aside, what players will like are the collectibles. These statues can be taken back to a martial arts school in exchange for learning new moves. By the end of the game, Shen can take on Ip Man! Well, okay, maybe not, but you get the idea.

Sleeping Dogs Final Verdict

alright, I know that's a lot of negatives for a game that is actually pretty strong all around, especially for an open world game. In the end, what sells the game the most is the gripping story of revenge and conflicting loyalties  The missions are diverse and really get the heart racing. The acting is strong all around and what I like is that people actually speak Chinese. Now, I only know a handful of words myself, and couldn't really tell you what they're saying without subtitles, but it all sounds convincing at the very least. The accents and language itself don't sound forced or fake. And along with the story comes several famous actors lending their voices to the cast such as Lucy Liu and Emma Stone. In the end, what you have is a game with some strong elements in story, and game mechanics for the most part, but far too many hiccups that keep the game from excellence. Many were worried that Square Enix could not deliver. But in my personal opinion, Sleeping Dogs is a step up over True Crime when all is said and done. Sleeping Dogs earns a 7 out of 10.


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