Sleeping Dogs Review
This here, is my attempt at a double review on the PlayStation 3 and the Razer Blade(the PC version) in one article. Why? The game is that good. To emphasise how pervasive the game has been, the girls in our office were playing it every morning. Yes. The male-den of gaming has turned into a female slumber party thanks to this title.
This game is a spin-off of the stereotypical “Hong Kong police versus the triad” plots and you might compare the plot to the likes of Infernal Affairs or Hardboiled (that movie with Chow Yun-Fat). You are Wei Shen, HKPD officer assigned to go undercover in an attempt to bring down the notorious Hong Kong triad.
As you progress through the story, there are various quests and extra missions to complete. These missions come in the form of favours, drug busts and random crimes on the streets of Hong Kong. The game is a sandbox in essence and you have the option to drive around looking for things to do. At every nook and cranny there will be small groups of gang members you could beat up just for fun. Some might even be protecting special loot or shrines that build up your health.
Hong Kong might be a big town, but you can easily get around with the unlimited availability of vehicles. The driving mechanics follows after the likes of Grand Theft Auto with only one significant drawback: The camera angle tends to swing around abruptly when you reverse and that is ANNOYING!
Like the movies, Wei Shen’s martial art skills are impeccable (Disclaimer: It depends on how good you are with the controls) and the game incorporates the all-too-famous “Batman Arkham Asylum/Arkham City” control scheme to pull off those moves with graceful fluidity. You have the usual light and heavy attacks, the be-all-end-all counter button and a grab move which is my favourite.
You’re able to toss enemies against environmental objects for pure entertainment purposes. That includes shoving faces into fish tanks, tossing bodies down ventilation pipes, beating victims to death in phone booths or beheading them with ventilation fans. Yes, you get to do all these satisfying things to your unfortunate targets. To give as much variety as possible, Wei Shen is able to learn more complex moves like breaking the legs or breaking the arms as you collect Jade Statues for his Master. Please the “Sifu” and he will teach you more techniques to satisfy your sadistic hunger to beat up others.
The combat animations are fluid and you’ll get that sense of satisfaction when you emerge victorious after man-handling multiple enemies at once. The counters and attacks that you see are what you would expect from an Asian pugilistic practitioner. The sound of every punch and bone cracking is nothing short of satisfying.
Speaking of sound, the game has a stellar sample of voice acting. You have a generous mix of Cantonese and English with the authentic Asian accent. Of course the game comes with subtitles, so don’t worry about missing out on anything. By the way, there are a number of swear words in Cantonese that have been used. Can you find them all?
Graphics in the game are fantastic. On the PlayStation 3 alone we were impressed by the lighting and the incredible amount of detail. On the PC, it felt like a whole new level of visuals. The streets of Hong Kong felt alive with extreme detail, lighting and the amount of reflection against the skyscrapers. Even on medium settings, the game looked gorgeous on the Razerblade.
One thing to take note, Sleeping Dogs is a long game. As you beat people up, bust drug operations, help in the Triad, be a cop and snoop around, work your way up to the big boys and upgrade where you live (yes, you begin with living in the slums, and eventually, a luxury condominium), you’ll realise how much there is to do.
Sleeping Dogs reminds me of the time when Batman: Arkham Asylum shocked the world simply because no one could tear themselves away from the game. The control schemes are tight; everything feels responsive and you have a no-brainer plot that still draws you in anyway just because you are living that secret dream of being an undercover cop with awesome kung-fu skills. It makes me feel bad that the old Stranglehold game was nothing like this. If the vision was to create an oriental-themed action adventure sandbox RPG because we really need one these days, this is as good as it gets.
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