Recently, I won a competition that allowed me to get some hands on time with the upcoming United Front Games title: Sleeping Dogs. What follows is a description of the evening and my impressions from the game after getting some hands on time with it.
To set the scene, the evening was held in central Sydney, at the swanky News limited building. Upon passing though security, we were seated in mini theatre room. After a short wait for late arrivals, the evening began.
First off, the evening began with a personalised message from the producer of United Front Games, Jeff O’Connell . The producer spoke about what other media influenced the game, such as the Internal Affairs Movies, why the team loved the game in general hoped that we like the game.
It was a nice personal touch that gave a small insight into the influences of the game. This was followed by the newest trailer for the game, which showed kung Fu and things exploding in slow motion (which is never a bad thing in my book!) After this we got to see a level of the game played though.
The level shows our hero, Wei Shen, escaping from a construction site. The level demonstrated some of the abilities Wei has to use the environment in combat. This involved impaling enemies on exposed pipes, Lighting them on fire from stove tops and decapitating them with circular saws. These environmental elements add a great deal of variety and violence to the combat.
Following the game demo, we were treated to a fan made film. The film was amazingly brutal and was a great way to get you pumped up for the game. You can watch it here (I highly recommend checking it out
Finally, following one last trailer that was more stories based than explosion based, we were ushered into another room to try out the game. The room was filled plasma TV’s hooked to Xboxes, all loaded with a playedle demo ofas well as having a fully stocked bar and plenty of Asian themed food. After helping myself to some Beer and spring rolls, I got stuck in to the game.
First off, the game looks great. Wei Shen character model is extremely detailed and the way he moves is very organic. The city and environment itself also looks amazing, especially at night time. NPC’s looks great and I had to look hard to find two that looked the same during my play though.
The full game was not available to play, instead there were five levels to select from each display the different elements of game play. The first section I chose was a warehouse level, which had emphasis on the hand to hand combat. Much has been said about the combat in Sleeping Dogs, with many referenced being made to Arkham City style combat.
The combat of Sleeping dogs dose feature some similarities to Arkham city. The basic attack buttons are the same, with one for attacking and one for parrying. The attack button dose multiple different combos depending on which way you point the joystick.
The paries are the exact same as Arkham, with a one button being used to pary an opponent. The only difference being that the attacking NPC will flash red when they are about to perform a paraiable attack. On top of this there is a grab button, which you use to do attack with objects within the environment.
Objects that the player is able to interact with highlight red and there always seems too be several options available in any given area. I made great use of a phone booth, car door and an air conditioning unit. Although not perfect, the fights are remenistant of the kung fuu movies they are paying homage to and as a result their a lot of fun.
Next up was the gun play. Sleeping dogs takes many of it’s shooting mechanics from current popular titles most notably uncharted series and Max Payne. The third person over the shoulder shooting is accurate and responsive. Moving between cover is smooth and popping up and shooting is one quick and easy motion.
The bullet time in the game is active whenever you slide over an object, otherwise it can be activated at any time manually. Although there is no Max Payne style slow mo dive, the bullet time in the game works well and adds another layer to the gun combat, especially when you combine it with melee combat.
The section I played had me in a shot out in a night club and after gunning down several rival gang members in bullet time; I shot the last one in the leg and finished him off by jump kicking his face into a wall. I that this combination of Bullet time, gunplay and hand melee combat was a great way to experience the combat.
The third section was the driving. To me, this was the most pleasant surprise of the game. Ever since GTA 4, I have had low expectations of driving in the sand box genre. Imagine my surprise than, when not only did driving not feel like the car made out of cement but it was fun, really fun! Driving in sleeping Dogs feels like your in a racing game.
The controls are tight and responsive, making driving enjoyable as opposed to chore. Throughout the demo I tried several different vehicles and they all had a distinct feel to them. The stand out feature of the driving however was the new ‘slam’ feature.
The slam feature allows you to violently slam your vehicle straight, left or right. The slam quickly jerks the car in the chosen direction and can have devastating effects if used tactfully. In races, using the slam feature can dramatically change the dynamic of the race, by means of you actively attempting to take out other races.
Although this is not new racing tactic, the slam allows you do it more precisely and as a result, it is much more satisfying. The feature is also incredibly destructive to use on side walks and civilian, if you are so inclined (which lets face, who isn’t?)
Overall, I found the game to a really enjoyable experience. Each of the game different sections work well and feel very polished. The fighting section feels like a fighting game, the shooting sections feel like a shooting game and the driving feels like a racing game. In short, each section feels polished enough to stand on it’s own. These elements, Combined with an integrating story and unique location make for an incredibly enjoyable game and one that I myself will be purchasing and one that I would highly recommend to others.