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[PS3 Review] Sleeping Dogs

Lets start this off by getting the game comparisons out of the way. You take some Arkham City, Max Payne, and Just Cause, mix it up in a pot and sprinkle a little Grand Theft Auto on top. What do you get? Sleeping Dogs.

You assume the role of Wei Shen, who recently returned to Hong Kong from San Francisco. Things start off immediately as you reconnect with your childhood friend Jackie (voiced by Edison Chen) and later introduced to some of the key players of the Sun On Yee Triad. We all have our own definition and assumptions on how an undercover cop story is told, however, Sleeping Dogs will surprise you.

The first thing you will notice is how streamlined everything is; missions are selected with the press of the L3 button for instance. I was expecting a start menu-heavy experience, however, the addition of the on-the-fly L3 button press while actively roaming around sets this game off to a fluid, enjoyable start.

The second thing you will notice is how open the “open world” really is. You can see buildings in a distance that you can actually drive to and freely explore. The city itself is filled with various objects, such as lock boxes, Health Shrines, sketchy women, and side missions. Sometimes you have to look at your mini map on the bottom left to see the item markers, but that is a very easy task. The items mentioned glow from a distance so they are not that hard to miss. Collecting Health Shrines increases your health, while unlocking Lock Boxes increase your funds and your clothing.

I in particular found it humorous to just run around in the City with my boxers on. Here you are, bad ass Wei Shen doing some Triad gangster things, and all I have on are a pair of boxers, which no one seem to notice no matter how serious the situation is. You are forced to change clothes in some missions, like sneaking in to the hospital, tailing people driving a utility truck, or, my personal favorite, dressing up as a Monk. Outfitting Wei Shen does add power ups, including additional melee damage and discount in purchasing vehicles just to name a few.

I’m not going to try to attempt and summarize the story line because it is very complex. You are basically everyone’s “b***h” to make it simple. If you haven’t been keeping up with your urban dictionary, basically if you are someones b***h, you do whatever they want you to do and become whatever they want you to be.

Throughout my whole game play, I am 99.9% doing stuff for everyone else, from planting bugs, committing insurance fraud, participating in illegal street races, driving shady dudes away I just met off of the streets to avoid drug and assault charges (while racking up felony evading charges instead); the list goes on and on.

I’m going to draw from my personal experience in this next paragraph. Growing up Asian in the 90’s in the height of the Gangster scene in San Francisco and Los Angeles puts you front and center with these so-called Asian gangs. I personally met people that dress, talk, and look like some of the characters in Sleeping Dogs. United Front Games really did their homework as far as researching the authenticity and appearance of the characters. I love how they did not waste anything when it came to dressing the characters, selecting proper voice actors and simulating gangster situations. In order to appreciate how a game is made, I believe you have to appreciate the talent behind the scenes. Here is a video of the main voice cast:

With the main voice cast in mind, the smooth game play mechanics, and downright near perfect execution of the game, we have ourselves an excellent addition to the open world genre. Sleeping Dogs is a contender like no other. Activision might regret letting this one go, as it is a very clear example of how a game, given a little time to simmer and cook, can well be an excellent and unforgettable dish served.

[review pros=”Fluid Mission Selection
Easy to learn hand-to-hand and gun play Controls
Near Limitless side missions
Above Average star studded voice acting” cons=”You never have any weapons on you
What’s the use of buying cars when you can just steal them?
Can never find a cab when you need one
Main campaign story is too short” score=95]

This review is based on a PS3 copy of Sleeping Dogs provided by Square Enix.