Sleeping Dogs is a well-written tale of the law and honor.
A game can provide an engaging hook for gameplay. Fighting, shooting, jumping, hacking, transforming, are among countless other gameplay hooks that lock players into continuous play. In today’s time, it appears that games are more about the style than about the substance. But there are games that provide a strong narrative and gripping atmosphere, while still making the game fun.
Sleeping Dogs, from United Front Games, is one of them. With the sudden shutdown of the studio, which was also behind Modnation racers, it is important, but bittersweet, to go back into this engaging game that raised eyebrows, as well as standards in the gaming industry.
Originally, Sleeping Dogs was meant to be a continuation of Activision’s “TRUE CRIME” games, titled True Crime: Hong Kong. Shortly after announcing the game, Activision canceled True Crime: Hong Kong after four years in development. In an unexpected act, Square Enix, best known for their Final Fantasy Games, approached Activision to secure the publishing rights to the game. After a few negotiations, the entire game was given to Square Enix, minus the True Crime name due to copyright reasons. Square Enix allowed development time to change assets and imagery. They also allowed for the team to travel to Hong Kong to acquire information and apply it to the game. The game was then renamed Sleeping Dogs.
Sleeping Dogs places players in the role of Wei Chen, a young, strong man with a checkered past. He is on the streets, dealing in illegal trades until he is apprehended by Hong Kong police. While in jail, Wei acquaints himself with an old friend and criminal on the streets, Jackie Ma. Together, they are released and begin their rise into the criminal underworld. What Jackie Ma doesn’t know is that Wei Chen is an undercover police officer, on assignment to be sent into extremely deep cover to dismantle and destroy the most dangerous triad in Hong Kong: the Son Un Yee. Wei’s arrest was a set-up to implant him into the organization. The depths to which Wei will have to go to have only just begun to sink in.
Sleeping Dogs is an adventure of hope and honor in a world fraught with danger and evil. In between the kung-Fu action and wild shootouts, the game tells a story about the virtue and principle of honor. The character gets deep into the Son Un Yee, discovering a sense of dignity and purpose in their lives, despite the injustices of their criminality.
Players will begin to discover a sense of authority, responsibility, and respect within the organization and see Wei Shen struggle with his duties as an officer conflicting with his loyalties as a friend. Moments get particularly intense when villains eventually reveal themselves from the shadows. Wei will be torn between his loyalties to his friends in the Sun-OnYee, and his duties as a police officer. You may be surprised how Wei will respond in this dangerous life. It’s a well-told and gripping story that hooked players to the very end. Compared to similar games, such as Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs’ story on honor set within an Asian city, set it apart from other experiences.
Sleeping dogs play as an open-world action adventure. The entire city of Hong Kong is free to be explored. Jackie can embark on various quests, ranging from random interceptions to special favors from clients of the Son Un Yee. Unique to this game are two different types of primary quests. Wei will need to participate in police missions to solve various cases. Additionally, Wei will have to embark on missions with the Son UN Yee, moving the organization’s muscle and completing operations relevant to the organization.
As Wei is familiar with Hong Kong, he is capable of martial arts, driving, and shooting combat. Martial arts makes up the large bulk of the action and is made into an enjoyable spectacle. Inspired by large-scale fight scenes, as seen in movies such as Rumble in the Bronx, Wei can fight and counter various foes. A highlight represents when enemies will attack and when Wei can counter. Additionally, the highlight will form around objects in the environment. When triggered, Wei will initiate a widely entertaining takedown, with a variety that ranges from smashing a bad guy with a telephone to throwing a fighter into a dumpster.
Wei will also participate in firefights and often use parkour to maneuver around the shooting. Driving also feels great. In addition to street-racing missions, players will have to eliminate pursuing assailants and leap onto cargo trucks in some missions. These skills are upgradable over time. Overall, it is an incredibly engaging gameplay experience with many hours of activities to complete.
Presentation-wise, the game is extremely authentic. Wei Shen and the characters look and animate very solidly. The city of Hong Kong is rich with life and culture, with various festivities going on. The game’s soundtrack has a pulsating array of rock and roll, orchestra, and hip-hop. There is a considerable amount of detail as well, from rain falling on skin to graffiti on the streets.
The Definitive Edition features noticeable improvements, as well as additions versus the PlayStation 3 version of the game. All available DLC content, which includes three expansions , multiple skins, as well as weapons, are all bundled together. The game has a significant tune-up in presentation, audio, and technical points. Load times are much faster, graphics are cleaner, and the details are sharper. For those that missed out on playing Sleeping Dogs the first time, picking up the Definitive edition is worth it.
With the sudden and unfortunate shutdown of United Front Games last week, the talent behind this wonderful game have now gone their separate ways, hopefully landing on their feet in a new capacity within video games. Seeing a sequel to this amazing game remains at a standstill. There may come a day where a Sleeping Dogs 2 happens, but it will not be done by the same team that worked hard in the creation of this critically important title. The loss of the team is a heart-breaker for the gamers that played, enjoyed, and endlessly talked about Sleeping Dogs, especially in a time where stories involving criminal activity devolve into shootouts and blood.
Sleeping Dogs is a special game, from its incredible gameplay to its immersive story. It was made by people who wanted to be different and, most importantly, enjoyed making games. It is a passionate experience and something that will stand out in the many years to come. From the presentation to the story and the non-stop kung-fu action, Sleeping Dogs is certainly a game not to be missed.