If Sleeping Dogs has taught me anything, besides how a pork bun can cure severe amounts of torture, it's that you don't have to be original to be awesome.
If you think this was never seen before...
You've obviously never played Pursuit Force on PSP.
Every single gameplay mechanic from Sleeping Dogs, I've seen from somewhere before. The action hijack system is from Pursuit Force. The melee combat is Arkham City esque, and the open world mechanics, are used in every open world game really. The story takes it's roots from rags to riches tropes, asian cinema etc. I felt the penthouse level jumped right out of the Mafia II Construction Site Scene. I could go on. But the thing is...
This is a good thing.
I think we all read the reviews of the game where it's creativity couldn't make up for it's poorness. It relied so heavily on something original, that it totally ignored the fact that it was a miserable, buggy excuse for a game.
This is what made Sleeping Dogs so good. It took these parts, and perfected them. Yes the audio lagging and screen tearing is there, and it's not perfect, but it took many already used gameplay mechanics and created "2.0 Versions" of them.
Like how it created a living city. Mafia II was lovely looking, but it was empty and lifeless. Red Dead Redemption was a living frontier, but it seemed quite static, unless you were a whore, if you were, it was your job to be kidnapped by a drunk moron. L.A Noire (see Mafia II). So Sleeping Dogs went for both. It created a dense cityscape where it felt like life was actually happening.
Are how in Mafia II they thought they were being authentic by including one word of Italian in a cutscene now and again. Sleeping Dogs went the extra mile in having about 1-2 fifths of it being spoken in Cantonese, without the subtitling (dialogue outside of cut scenes). Cue Deus Ex Human Revolution Hengsha as an inspiration.
It doesn't matter that Sleeping Dogs is bursting to the brim with originality, there is already a thriving indie market for that type of game player. What Sleeping Dogs did, was pick and choose from the best bits of recent media, and slam them together to create something special. It removed most of the flaws, and presented a more polished version of specific mechanics which have been praised.
Sleeping Dogs showed me something. It showed me you can't run on an idea. You need to shape it properly, refine it, execute it. If you don't put the work into your idea, well then that's all it remains. A good idea.
(Apologies for the shortness of this blog, but I'm not really feeling the inspiration right now. It will probably come to me at 2AM. I'll try to develop something more substantial soon. Sorry - PK.)