So itís been awhile and thatís mainly due to University exams, Iím finally FREE! I thought Iíd have an amazing day, finish exams, chill with friends watch Game Of Thrones S3E9Ö. yea, didnít got as planned that one.
Anywho Sleeping Dogs, Iíve been sitting on this review for a while due to my workload of revision which like most students was abused and abandoned for minor acts of fun that werenít all too fun anyway.
You play as Wei Shen a police officer moved to Hong Kong to try and bring down a Triad Gang Ė The Sun On Yee. The way the artistic designers represented Hong Kong was brilliant. As someone whose been and visited it, playing Sleeping Dogs did have familiar feels to it and even certain larger important buildings were replicas of the ones in real life which just adds to the touristic enjoyment you gain from wandering the Neon bathed sidewalks of the hustling & bustling city. The city is split up into section such as Central, Aberdeen and so on, each has a different feel to it making it quite obvious youíre in a different territory of HK but with subtle transitions from one to the next.
In terms of story you have a mysterious past constantly hinted at but never truely ever discussed in depth which is a pain, almost as if the writers are saying ďI know something you donít knowĒ in some childish sing-songy way.
You get into the Triads via an old friend Jackie (not Chan) who playing the stereotypical 2nd fidel to your Main Character role i.e. shit never goes his way and he just seems like a dude who made one too many unfortunate mistakes.
The Triads themselves have honour and conduct themselves well between each other, although you never see this, the main problem is with 2 role poles, or colonel if you prefer, one whom you work for and the other an old friend of your boss. This too is filled with many cliches and also many tropes filled out in a very similar fashion youíll probably be used to.
However when it comes to gameplay this game really has some stuff going for it. I really enjoy it as the majority is entirely hand to hand combat, you donít pick up a gun until about 2 hours into the game and you donít even realise it as the Martial Arts you know are so fun and simple to weave together. With the options of some gruesome environmental kills or just plain beating the shit out of your aggressor hand-to-hand never really gets old which is appreciated as so many games can get repetitive and thus boring (Assassins Creed!).
You can improve your melee combat and training by being a good triad (killing people in increasingly inventive inhuman ways) & by collecting Jade statues of your old Martial Arts instructor. Being a good triad is a little more complex than just finding statues however. Youíre awarded points at the end of missions based on: how badass you were (triad points) and how moral you were (police), so youíre being judged on two fronts at either ends of the spectrum which is a pain in all honesty Ė especially as crashing whilst driving detracts from police score.
Police upgrades however focus instead of on the art of hand to hand combat, steady aim, weapon handling and the like which is slightly worrying as I felt more pushed toward being a Triad as essentially near no-one owns a gun. So overall the upgrading system seems sort of flawed and unbalanced which is a shame.
As with most big games such as this it does have its fair share of side missions Ė doing drug busts for the police (which can actually be really fun), but then thereís the bog standard and boring Racing. Sleeping Dogs does add in some new stuff, one was cock-fights which I didnít bother seeing as it seemed a crappy idea, the other however was fight club (yes i just broke the first 2 rules). You face waves of increasing number of foes and all you have is your martial arts to defend you until the end, these are very fun and help you build up your face value (another annoying level based attribute which doesnít really get you much).
Sleeping Dogs does have a lot of minor things that work in its favour which make it just that slight bit more immersive or fun, such as walking down a market street there are plenty of opportunities flashing up to buy food/drink that will provide a buff to Wei, itís slightly funny as it does almost create the feel of being harassed as if you were actually walking down these very busy streets in HK.
Other things like Taxi cabs (which are the selected form of fast travel much like GTA 4) being the correct colour based on their location i.e. Red is Central and Easter, Green is more like Aberdeen and Southern almost etc. These tiny things many developers & designers over look but when youíre in game and it reminds the player of a similar experience then it is truly appreciated that much more.
Another more funny thing is the reverse side of racism I noticed at only like 2 points. As a white dude Iíve had it easy and I get that, however hearing Wei say at one point in the game ďIf my mom caught me with a Whitey, sheíd kill meĒ, it just made me laugh. I loved the idea of seeing prejudice from the otherside.
Despite the eye for detail and some funny bits of writing here and there, it doesnít mean Sleeping Dogs is a perfect game by any stretch. Even though you donít use a gun all that much they feel very clunky however they do have a Stranglehold-esque mechanic (if you ever played that game) where by when you vault over furniture you go into slow mo everytime.
Wei seems to have nightmares akin to that Iíd expect of a Hollywood version of a Vietnam Vet which is quite cheesy and at some points just ill fitting seeing as nothing major happened. There are major things in the script he could have nightmares about (and one I did actually find quite scarey toward the end) but no it starts out small and grows.
Another piece of just slightly annoying writing would be the nicknames given to some of the heads in the Sun On Yee, names like Big Smile Lee, Two Chin & Pockmark. Those are distinguishing features and make for stupid nicknames overtime and they do begin to grate as you continue to play the story.
Overall I think I would give Sleeping Dogs a 7/10. Sure its not great and the writing is just plain odd in certain places, but game mechanics and artistic design make up for it quite well. At times it did feel like being a tourist in Hong Kong again and for that it has a little bit more value personally.
Thanks for Reading, please feel free to check out Willza99 and wordpress for more reviews and rants, thank you so much :)
About willzaone of us since 1:27 PM on 03.31.2013
So, i'm pretty much going to be posting mainly my reviews of games i've played recently. I always apprieciate a debate on games I enjoy and love any feedback given, a score's cool but without feedback i don't know how to improve... anyway yea I'll be doing that where and when i can.
My interest with games has been there since i was a child. My first memory is of me, my dad and my eldest sister playing Sonic on the Sega Mega Drive, its the only console from my childhood i've managed to lose :( I used to play James Pond and Mega BomberMan on there. From that i progressed to the N64 and the obvious titles like Legend of Zelda Occarina of Time and Super Mario 64. From that I went onto the Dream Cast where i fell in love with Soul Reaver, Rayman 2 and Space Race ;)
After that i got into what you'd call modern gaming i suppose as i got a PS2 and my first game was Jak and Daxter, boy how i loved that series and Final Fantasy 10 (I know older fans of the series find that heresy but i was like 10 so i loved it!), and i almost forgot Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3. From there it was onto the Xbox where titles like Halo & Timesplitters Future perfect & Hitman kept me entertained. Then onto the now dwindling current Gen xbox 360 where Halo was played with even more love, borderlands emerged, Assassins Creed was created and Mass Effect began and the `fast food` equivalent of games Call of Duty 4 swept the consoles.
Now here I am, a live time of characters, stories and love for each of them wrapped up in a young dude hoping to get into the Game Creation industry himself.... so yea Hi! ;)
Please check out my podcast "The Magical Fun Bus" found on podomatic, most podcast directories and iTunes, our twitter is @magicalfunbus