We delve deeper into the backlog here at MrLuvvaLuvva.
The game formerly know as True Crime: Hong Kong persevered through a very protracted development and cancellation to finally see the light of day.
But is it an experience worth waking up for? Or is it best for these dogs to stay sleeping?
Follow the story of Wei Shen as he attempts to take down the triad group, Sun On Yee from the inside; yes, you’re an undercover cop which means you’ll be breaking laws aplenty. In a game that strives to differentiate itself from other open world games (the fact it’s not set in America is novelty in itself) this setup is painfully generic. Throw in the fact that Wei Shen is an American (well he lived there for a prolonged period) and we have a premise that is skirting the realms of ‘been-there-done-that’, this is a feeling that never leaves throughout the duration of ‘Sleeping Dogs’.
‘Sleeping Dogs’ does some things very well indeed, the premise leads the player into pursuing Triad activities and police cases. The Police cases were my favourite part of the game. Multi-segmentated cases break up the usual sandbox cliches of drive here, shoot him and see some of the best moments in the game (one case that stands out is in a hospital). Sadly there are only four cases to be played equaling roughly an hour of game play; a real missed opportunity.
The gun play is excellent and very reminiscent of Max Payne, it is tight and precise – it even has a bullet time mechanic which is very satisfying to use, vault over waist high cover and the world slows down, creating the effect that Wei Shen is a badass.
The story is also very good; while it is undoubtedly inspired by both western and eastern cinema (none more-so than a Hard boiled inspired hospital shootout), it builds to quite a satisfying conclusion. However there are moments in the story where the illusion is shattered (none more so than the ending: which i wont go into); a braver, more confident studio would have went in a different direction, I found myself disappointed in the final action sequence.
Things fall apart slightly with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a sandbox title, while there are many side missions they all fall into 2 categories; fetch quests and collectables; even the most ardent of completionists would find their patience challenged like never before. The handling of the vehicles, especially the motorbikes, is incredibly vague and inconsistent, making traversing the map a trial. Speaking of the map; Hong Kong is a pain to get around, tight corners and narrow alleyways seemingly everywhere and it is a consistent thorn in your side when handling is so bad. You’ll also find yourself having to travel obscene distances to get to your next objective – a sin that is unforgivable in this day-and-age.
At release this game was a direct rival to GTA:IV and Saints Row 3; is it a better game than those two titles? No; but it is however a vastly superior action game to both of them. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ gets more right than wrong; however its wrongs simply beggars belief, no game should expect players to travel across a map to speak to a character for 15 seconds, then go back from where they came. However it is clear to see in GTA:V that Rockstar are paying attention (especially with regards to torture scenes and action sequences); ‘Sleeping dogs’ has driven the genre on, and this is worth an extra mark in my book.
Score – 7/10