Sleeping Dogs Review
Bring The Criminal Underworld To Their Knees In This Immersive Open World Adventure.
Developer: United Fronts
Publisher: Square Enix
Sleeping Dogs is the latest open world adventure game from Square Enix and United Front. It throws players neck deep into the slums surrounded by Hong Kong's worst villains and gangs. However is running with the criminals as fun as it sounds or is this game the perfect lullaby.
You play as Wei Shen an undercover officer who has been relocated back to his place of origin, Hong Kong. Seeking revenge for the death of his sister and trying to uphold the law, Wei Shen has promised to bring the criminal underworld to their knees. Throughout the course of the game you work your way up doing odd jobs for various mob bosses and scoundrels while playing the part as to avoid any suspicion. The game will force your character to his limits in order to not give up his identity but the question the cops ask is, are you too deep? As you progress through the game, Wei Shen experiences both a personality and loyalty change, which gives this story a gripping and addictive plot line to follow. All assisting characters have individual personalities with interesting backgrounds and the story flows well by using both side missions and plot missions to keep the ball rolling.
Sleeping Dogs is an open world adventure which has been made by a team of skilled designers. It allows the gamer to go wherever they want and do whatever they want. This freedom allows you to do a variety of different activities which include karaoke; eating out; purchasing vehicles ;buying clothes; running errands for people and of course following the plot line missions. During the first few moments of the game you encounter how versatile this game really is, it insists you do odd jobs for a gang boss around a local market where you can purchase noodles and energy drinks to boost your stats. There is a never-ending amount of options which present themselves to the player at all times in order to keep the game interesting for the gamer.
Although the open world freedom is great the most exciting moments of this game are to be enjoyed in the storyline. Missions are bursting with various different elements which include brawling, racing, losing the cops, robbing vaults and much more. The missions are entertaining and hard hitting. The physical combat system in the game is brutal as the game will force you to squirm after each neck break and environment kill. As you scrap with gangsters various objects will glow red indicating certain environment attacks can happen using this object. This ranges from smashing people into telephone boxes and forcing their heads into air ventilation systems. The combat is immersive as others around you will comment on your actions, also the combat is never too easy, if you allow the enemy to get too many hits in, you're down for the count.
Although not dominant during the course of the game gun fights also come into play. This works by using a bog standard cover system which without a doubt works well but doesn't bring anything new to the table. Weapons available in the game are unique as you can go from a tire iron to a grenade launcher in a few split seconds. Hidden among the games mechanics is a small RPG element which allows your character to learn new skills and become stronger as you go along. As you run missions for the Triads and Cops you will earn points which can teach you vital skills such as fast disarm and stronger striking damage. As you complete errands for the local city folk, beat down enemies, sing karaoke you also increase face value which again allows you to purchase upgrades which improve your character. This level of interactivity is great especially when it is found in an open world adventure game.
Vehicle mechanics will appear to some as very rigid and un-smooth. When soaring through the streets of Hong Kong one fatal turn will cause you to face plant various objects stopping you dead in your tracks. During certain sequences you can also ram enemy vehicles which lets you perform an impossible, yet powerful shunt against your enemy. However driving around the city does allow the gamer to embrace certain design elements in the game, especially the environment of the city itself.
Talking about design elements this game is stunning. The Hong Kong environment is rich and accurate as various buildings are booming with colour while other buildings are plastered with strong visual art. The game as a whole is very colourful and although it is very busy no graphic issues were encountered. This game for the most part is free from any graphic clipping and glitches which make Sleeping Dogs a very enjoyable visual experience. That said though work needs to be done on the character animation and textures. After close inspection most characters have basic facial animations and their bodies are very frozen and static. Annoyingly to add to this it seems everyone in this city is very generic or maybe they all just enjoy wearing the same clothes.
Sleeping Dogs withholds an electric soundtrack and has the perfect score for each occasion. As you play you have the constant ambient of city life and once you find a ride you are encouraged to listen to the radio. This will provide you with various different types of music. The game as a whole is a cultural explosion as it shoves the player into the life of Hong Kong. Voice acting is fantastic on all main characters and their use of both English and Cantonese dialogue helps set the scene.
Although no multiplayer element is present in the final version of the game there is the social hub. This allows you to share certain records with your friends. For example longest jump, longest clean ride and other various titles will be recorded and shown to your friends for them to compete with. It is nothing special but it is nice as it does help involve your friends and family with your experience.
Sleeping Dogs has managed to find that perfect formula which combines both a versatile open world experience with a strong combat system. The underlining RPG element is also great as it keeps the player focused on the goal and always looking for new ways to improve their character. Death defying stunts and fast and furious chases across the city will grip and send the player for a mind blowing, action packed ride which they will never forget. This game can both be enjoyed by the casual and hardcore gamer as it conquers every element in which any gamer could ever want.
Padraig Balch is the Editor-In-Chief of Chaos Hour. This rare-tech type editor can be found in the long grass of Damacia or Tamriel.
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