Sleeping Dogs is the Hong Kong action journey most lovers of John Woo and Kung-Fu have been waiting for. The thrill of the chase, the melody of the karaoke, and the depth of the storyline keeps a title with solid game mechanics one that is fun and surprising at every turn. Sleeping Dogs is United Front Games’ portrayal of the original True Crime: Hong Kong title which has been revamped with a 20+ hour experience that is unforgettable as it is memorable.
Sleeping Dogs reveals the dark-crime cop thriller with protagonist Wei Shen, a Hong Kong native fresh off a flight from the U.S. Something terrible happened to his sister and the local crime syndicate of the Sun on Yee triad had something to do with it. Fueled by a desire for revenge and vengeance, Wei Shen joins a dangerous undercover infiltration assignment of incorporating himself into the syndicate. As the story progresses, the plot thickens as the characters themselves become more in-depth to their past lives with a beautiful narration blend between Cantonese and English dialogue. Sleeping Dogs keeps a stunning narrative experience relevant with an all-star voice acting cast that adds significant depth to the title’s words and the action’s grit.
Sleeping Dogs carries a level of free-roaming that is enticing from karaoke, to doing various side-quests as a cop in terms of leading a criminal to a trap and even car chases. Free roam exploration in the stunning city of Hong Kong is great, adorned with neon lighted signs and what not, but at the end of the day a lot of Hong Kong’s exploration does not hold much chaotic fun in terms of titles such as Saints Row: The Third, and Red Dead Redemption where more variety of action and combat is involved in a stunning atmospheric world. While the first few missions tie the player into the learning curve without unleashing them into the world, the rest of the 20 hour experience is wildly great in terms of exploration of the sandbox style. Sleeping Dogs has an atmosphere that is decent nevertheless and serves to carry it through to the storyline which is the primary strength of the game.
Combat itself is fairly straight-forward but what is incredible in terms of fight structure involves a type of Punisher related environmental finishing moves. You can throw enemies into dumpsters, and use tons of variety offered in certain objects of the environment for more immersion. The combat style itself is relatively simple though incorporating a Batman: Arkham Asylum reflexive control system, which is easily also recognized in other titles as well with counter moves. The combat is great, but nothing too exceptionally done. In terms of weapons, many make-shift type weapons are available as kung-fu and martial arts are the main focus. Guns are available, but relatively rare in the lore of the actual storyline of Hong Kong without guns. As the character engages in combat, he levels up in either triad experience of cop experience focusing on combat or better driving/gun abilities with skill trees which focus the upgrades to a limited selection path. Despite the upgrade system, no sort of karma meter exists with Sleeping Dogs as it is not intended to be a role-playing game. Car chases control like arcade-style driving chases, and the action from the fluidity of car handling speaks great things about the physics realism of the title.
Sleeping Dogs is an exceptionally great title with a lot going for it. Sure, the free-roaming explorations can use more substance but besides this, the title is an immersive cop thriller experience that is reminiscent of something that any die-hard Hong Kong film enthusiast would love. The narrative experience is a touching one, and while the graphics are not that exceptionally well put together, the storyline helps to alleviate a majority of immersion issues. In the end of the Hong Kong sunlight across the bay, Sleeping Dogs provides the true adage that while old dogs can never change, the sleeping dogs are ready to reveal their true colors.