From Square Enix, them guys who did all them Final Fantasies and stuff like that and such and so forth, comes a game that is like all of the JRPGs that Square is known for, except it isn’t, at all, in the slightest, I’m using all of these phrases to boost my word count and make you think that there is any real substance to this review (don’t tell anyone!). However, it is very similar to another game franchise that Square Enix are known for, a franchise that is soon to be a trilogy, a franchise that houses the greatest game of all time, no question. This franchise is, of course, the Just Cause series. If you think that, you think “explosions!” and “jumping off of stuff!”. Now, picture that, but without the explosions and base jumping. Really, the only comparison you can make is that there is a full, lush sandbox to explore, and it is set somewhere in Asia.
Yes, Sleeping Dogs is not a game to be compared with others. It is completely stand-alone and very, very fun.
You play as Wei Shen;
what a darling, in a gripping undercover cop storyline. Throughout the game, you feel torn between your duties as an officer of the law and your loyalties to the gang, The Sun On Yee, as you climb the ladder to the status of one of the The Sun On Yee’s most trusted members, while incarcerating some low-life scum along the way.
You play this story with a plethora of lovely, unique gameplay goodies. The combat system, in particular, is absolutely delightful. As specified in my Robocop Review, my prefered style of combat/violence is more fistfights or swordplay. Needless to say, Sleeping Dogs has a variety of oppurtunities to kick. Some. Ass. This is, admittedly, does get substantially easier as the game progress and you upgrade your moves. Speaking of upgrades, the skill trees for Cop, Triad, Face (I’ll explain), Combat and Health are extremely easy to use which, for a casual like myself, is a huge relief, seeing that games are increasingly getting fond of using ridiculously complicated skill trees. In addition, the traversal system in this game is one of my favourites, parkour galore. However, the parkour is, looking back, quite flawed, with the fact that doing high risk leaps doesn’t increase your momentum and, in some cases, does, in fact, slow you down. Also, the incessant use of the A (or X for our Playstation cousins) button makes the parkour segments feel like nothing more than a series of quick-time events. When you’re not running around Hong Kong, scaring the shizzle out of passers-by, you’re driving around Hong Kong, scaring the shizzle out of passers-by. This is even-funner (yes, I know that isn’t a word) due to the wide range of cars and bikes you can aquire. The Face meter is a meter on the side of your mini-map that, when filled, starts a short period of time, during which, you are… scarier? I dunno. I do know, however, that when your Face is fully upgraded you can wear, drive and do cooler things, so who cares?
Accompanying on this adventure is a cast of extremely questionable characters. Everything from the dangerously volitile, the dirty cops and the sleazy record producers are entwined in Wei’s story. Oh, and Mrs Chu. Don’t. Mess. With. Mrs. Chu.
Don’t think I’m done, cause I’m not. Not unlike this review, once you’ve finished the story, you’re not done, sucka. You’ve still got favours, events and jobs to do, as well as sweet, sweet collectibles. Favours (or favors) appear on your map as little, black stickmen on a yellow background. You could be throwing some drunks off of a gambling barge at one point, then be driving your mate away from a police station he just blew up, eliciting a high speed chase. Jobs appear on your map as orange sheilds and they usually include stealing cars and getting paid, nothing wrong with that. Actually, come to think of it, there’s a lot wrong with that but, in my defense, it was a lot of money. Events are probably the trickiest to get your mitts on, as they don’t appear on your map, rather they appear on your minimap as you pass them, if you ever do. These don’t take longer than 1-2 minutes as they usually entale releasing someone from a car boot (or trunk) or throwing some drunk out of a shop or bar. There are also a few street races here and there, but I hope I don’t have to describe them to you. Then, when you think you’ve cleared the map, the game shows you a second funtion of the map that exposes all of the collectables that litter the game world. These include Health Shrines (that upgrade your health), Jade Statues (that you can exchange for new fighting moves) and Lockboxes (that can include items of clothing or money). So you’ve got everything, now to spend it. There is veritable smorgasbord of crap to spend your hard earned dough on. Not really a smorgasbord, more you can buy cars and clothes.
The graphics and sound are nothing to scream and shout about. They aren’t horrible and ear-bleeding, they’re agreeable. OK? Ok.
To conclude, Sleeping Dogs is a fine game. It’s strongest points are most definitely it’s gripping story and combat. However, if like me, you done all of the side missions and collectables while playing the story, then the replay value is overall mediocre. If the parkour was better, this game could be even better, yet, for now, I give this game;
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations