Sleeping Dogs Review
Surprisingly, all of your time won’t be spent roaming the streets. The player will spend a fair amount of time in the menus allocating points in different skill trees. Since the Triads and cops handle situations differently, the game awards the player for playing either role. Perform lethal kills and the Triads will be pleased; keep reckless driving to a minimum and be mindful of civilians and the cops will know you’re still on their side. You can spend these points in their respective upgrade sections. The obtainable abilities range from special ammunition to increased melee damage to new moves all together. The constant flow of unlocks makes sure the game feels fresh even when you’re well over 10 hours in.
Through locating jade statues and completing side missions, Wei can upgrade items in the Martial Arts and Face trees. For every jade statue returned to the martial arts instructor, Wei is taught a new move of his choosing; my personal favorites being the arm and leg breaks which cause surrounding enemies to flinch in horror. By helping out the locals in random, varied side quests, the Face Meter begins to fill up and will level up. Gaining “face” does more than just award a skill point; it also allows the player to purchase nicer cars and equip fancier clothes to match Wei’s new face level. With 28 cars and 179 different clothing options, players will be busy for a while customizing Wei’s look and ride to their liking.
Tons of Mini-Games
Hong Kong is filled to the brim with activities and, many times, these activities lead to mini-games. Wei’s personal closed-circuit television in his apartment is a part of an engaging side activity. By clearing out specified spots of hostiles, Wei can hack nearby cameras by figuring out the proper numerical combination. In turn, these cameras stream live video back at the apartment. While viewing the video feed, Wei can highlight important criminals remotely, at which point an officer will spring into action and arrest the selected individual. This one type of optional side mission contains three parts, two of which are entertaining mini-games. Other mini-games, such as lock picking, appear as progress is made throughout the story. One of the most interesting is Karaoke, where Wei can show off his vocal talent in front of a hostess. By using the left analogue stick, Wei can sing recognizable songs like a pro. However, mess up and feedback from the mic will override Wei’s impressive singing voice. Interestingly enough, even conversations are transformed into mini-games with button prompts briefly appearing when Wei needs to think on his feet to talk his way out of a situation. It may not be the best replacement for being able to select your own conversation topic, but for an open-world title, it’s impressive to see so much jam-packed into every aspect.
Slightly Outdated Graphics
While Hong Kong itself looks beautiful bustling with people, cars and shops, the characters vary from acceptable to down-right ugly. During certain cutscenes, faces lack detail and animations look a bit stiff. This is partially remedied during scenes with rain as the characters glisten from the water, creating the illusion of more visually pleasing characters. With the game having dealt with delays and cancellation, the graphics may not be as detailed as they should be given that we should have seen this title earlier. That’s not to say that they’re terrible by today’s standards; they could have just used an extra layer of polish.
Would you be surprised if I said Sleeping Dogs didn’t contain a single performance issue? Yeah, me too. While gawking at the insane scale of Hong Kong, I noticed occasional screen-tearing as I moved the camera about to take in the lively environment. With so many positives backing this game up already, it’s hard to put too much weight into this issue. Minor screen-tearing is a small price to pay to gain access to everything this expansive title has to offer.
Sleeping Dogs is a huge step forward for free roam games and with Grand Theft Auto V‘s absence this year (so far), it may very well snag the top spot in its genre. The money is well worth the amount of content contained in this game and with several months of DLC planned on top of the already lengthy campaign, Sleeping Dogs is sure to hold the attention of many for the foreseeable future. Even though a few issues can be found here and there, it would take much more to really detract from this engaging experience. I must agree 100% with Mike Fischer of Square Enix; Activision was crazy to drop this game.[Editor's Note: Sleeping Dogs was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]
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