[Video Game Review] SLEEPING DOGS (PC) Part I of II

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Game Description
Inspired by classic Hollywood and Asian cinema style action thrillers, Sleeping Dogs is a gritty open-world cop drama set in the vibrant city of Hong Kong. Sleeping Dogs catapults players into the role of undercover cop Wei Shen, tasked with taking down one of the world’s most fearsome criminal organizations from the inside… the Hong Kong Triads. As players explore the bustling and crowded Hong Kong island, through its neon-lit side streets and sprawling street markets, an incredible story unfolds of loyalty and betrayal where Wei begins to question his own motives as he is sucked in deeper than he could ever imagine.

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It’s Plain and Dirty

SLEEPING DOGS was intended to be a successor of the True Crime series. (Back then it was owned by Activision with the title named True Crime: Hong Kong.) Since True Crime: New York City didn’t meet expectations, Activision abandoned the project. Hence, Square Enix bought over the project but not the IP, leading to a change in the  title.

SLEEPING DOGS is a cop drama, with tension surrounding the protagonist, Wei Shen, an undercover Hong Kong Police Department cop. Story is dark with an added mix of intelligent humour, minor twists and significant amounts of manly-macho-brotherhood moments.

Hey, it’s a story that involves triads, so expect prostitution, pornography, drugs, guns firing and of course, Cantonese-profanities. (not everything is depicted visually of course)

Gameplay
Sleeping Dogs’ combat builds upon other titles like Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham City, typical racing games like Need For Speed and 3Ps’ like Max Payne. Why? Because Wei is living the life in this virtually realistic Hong Kong, he gets to enjoy racing, parkour(mostly escaping from threats), get involved in gangfights that runs on a free-flow combat system, underground racing and epic gun fights that has a cool bullet time system of its own, resulting in insanely addictive gameplay. There are bound to be moments like these: “Look it’s a lockbox, bet it contains money”, or “Wow, a Class A underground racing track! Wonder what I will get?.” Heed my advice, for every corner you turn, something will definitely pop up in your minimap that tinkers with your curiosity to venture. Insanely addictive and devilishly well-scripted.

Like any other Free-Roaming title, players will be able to explore, complete mini-quests, gain levels to unlock skills, and complete quests given by weird strangers. However, decisions are not yours to make in SLEEPING DOGS, every outcome of every single event is dead scripted. There will be no causes and effects decision that will change or affect the game’s ending, or progress. This might be a letdown for some people who likes options. Not happening in this game for sure.

To initiate quests and events, Wei will have to travel from point A to point B most of the time. Yes, there will be a lot of travelling and praise the heavens, this version of Hong Kong is huge and filled with rich beautiful skyscrapers. As for the locals, to be honest, the crude Cantonese speaking NPCs are just pure comedy. For starters, not exactly all the tone/pronunciation is completely accurate and I actually don’t blame Square Enix for that. However, the odd thing is, voice actors in this game tend to screw up more in the Cantonese profanities but sound perfectly fine when they are conversing in sentences without them.

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The Voice actors: Definitely famous people who acted in couple of good movies, you have Kelly Hu(Appeared in Red Alert 3) and Edison Chen (Yes, that infamous EDISON). Gentle reminder this is actually an INTERNATIONAL release oriented video game, for the developers its either getting a good Cantonese speaker with a below average pronunciation in English or the other way around. Since this will be released to Internationally, Square Enix made a wise choice indeed. On entertainment value for a gamer, you can sue me for guilty pleasure – I find this game to be absolutely hilarious and I actually like it when they swear. (Not your usual English profanity)

Interface
The interface is very simple, a mini map for navigating purposes, a blood-red health bar, a face meter (power up mode, gained by kicking people’s ass), and the protagonist in the center of the screen.

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Here, take a look at my butt for awhile.

A) Health Bar – Lose all of this and you will find Wei Shen in a hospital minus a hefty amount of cash
B) Face Meter – Fill it up to maximum to unleash your fists of fury!
C) Minimap – Just to make sure you know where you are going, very useful.
D) Wei Shen’s sexy black leather jacket drenched in blood.
E) Step into the green light to initiate the mission.
F) Dynamic Weather System – Turns to night and day during specific in-game time, it also rains and shines occasionally.
G) Your favorite Hongkies – They spur profanity upon collision (In Cantonese), and have random conversations that actually make sense.

See for yourself, Hong Kong is a very lively place filled with Hongkies, traffic jams, hawker stalls, Karaoke Bars and many more. The city runs very well, punch someone while a cop is nearby? You’ll have to run the half of the city to escape from Hong Kong’s finest. Head-on collision with pedestrians? Profanities and a little chance of accidentally killing one too. However, the open world allows you to beat someone up or ram into a vehicle without real fear of any repercussion unless you’re on a cop mission. Sure, it’s fun to hurt NPCs and watch how they react but I always hoped that you could steal, have a couple of lackeys follow you around and order them to do your dirty work. Somehow, you don’t get to be anyone’s boss in this game and this does not feed my superiority complex. Considering that you end up being somewhat of a crime boss, that seemed like a logical thing to add.

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Combat System
Combat System is fairly easy to get used to, click mouse1 to punch and the other to counter incoming attacks. Tap mouse1 quickly to chain up combos and hold to launch a heavy attack. Of course, you can throw in several varieties of combos too, while WSAD controls the movement. Did I mention pressing F allows you to grapple your enemy?

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Tiger Uppercut!

A) Highlighted red Brawler – Quickly tap Mouse2 to counter incoming attacks.
B) Buffs – Increased Damage! Your punches end fights quicker with this buff.
C) Health Regeneration –Gained by consuming delicacies around Hong Kong
D) You, at the verge of getting a clean uppercut.
E) Your current objective.

Combat system is definitely solid, nostalgic and fun. Wei is constantly pitched towards 3 different types of thugs in the whole game. You have a typical brawler that won’t flinch even you when give your best shot, a grappler which picks you up and throws you around most of the time and a striker that can unleash chain of attacks.  Each type of enemy have specific weaknesses, you can’t always grab a grappler, you’ll need to mix heavy combo to bring him down. When there’s a group of twenty thugs filling up your screen, players can actually feel the adrenaline rushing in. It’s exciting. 

Leveling Up in Hong Kong
You will have 3 sets of skill trees that require 3 different experience points to build upon, Face, Cop and Triad. Face dictates passive upgrades such as buying things at a discounted price, buffs lasting longer, a personal car valet and many more. Leveling up Face requires you to complete Favors from locals such as drug busts, or helping out a friend after he almost got his organs sold. Yes. Welcome to Hong Kong.

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Face is Pride!

Cops is leveled through most missions and it mostly dictates gun wielding abilities such as, bullet time after vaulting from cover, bullet time lasting longer, firearms have reduced recoil and extra damage dealt by fire arms. Moreover, Cop skills let you drive better. Upgrade “Slim Jim” to quickly break into cars without setting off alarms, increase ramming damage, and other related driving skills.

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Cop Training 101: To know a thief you must become a thief.

Triad focuses in hand-to-hand combat, melee and damage. It also focuses more on physical damages, defenses and unlocking new ways to beat up your enemies.

Thats it for part one. More about this game coming soon.

 

Release Date: August 2012
MSRP: RM 149.00
M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs
GenreAction
PublisherSquare Enix
DeveloperUnited Front Games

 [Continue to Part 2]

 

 

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