Wednesday, 5 September 2012

REVIEW: Sleeping Dogs

When people say it's Grand Theft Auto in Hong Kong, they're right. It is.

Sleeping Dogs is a sandbox game that puts you in the shoes of Wei, an undercover cop who has come back to his home town to delve into the criminal world of Hong Kong. Like GTA, you can walk around, hit and kill people, steal cars and the like. However, as you are now a cop you can also do right by people.

Let's start with the story. The undercover cop thing might have been done before in movies, but it's a surprise no-one (including Rockstar) has really cottoned onto this. It works extremely well. The main reason being is that you get so deep into the criminal underworld, and invest so much of yourself in it, you really do start to forget that you're actually a cop. Also the police are nothing but a hindrance as you progress and helping them is often the last thing on your mind. This plays nicely into the actual story where you are being pulled from both directions and soon you are more concerned with the criminal friends you spend most of your time with, than trying to do what's right.  For instance, you will probably begin the game trying to make sure you don't crash into anything, hit any pedestrians and so on, but I guarantee by the end that will go right out the window.

The plot takes many twists and turns as the gangs start turning on each other and the voice acting really brings you in. I was very impressed by how involved I got in the storyline and was aching to move on to the next chapter, often not bothering with any side quests just to continue the plot. Something I don't normally do (I like to pad out my games with a few side quests inbetween) and by the end you really do become quite a monster.

The side quests consist of doing favours to get Face points, buying and selling cars, street races, gambling and all sorts to keep you entertained. It is very varied and lots of fun and is enough to keep you interested for ages. Face points unlock new abilities, as does Cop and Triad points depending on how your morals take shape, and also unlock a variety of abilities. It doesn't swing from one to the other, so you can unlock all abilities by the end of the game without worrying too much about having to continuously be 'good'.

The gameplay is very smooth and fighting is much like Arkham Asylum etc. with counter attacks and a slight bit of technical button mashing for good measure, the moves are also amazing. The driving is great and the controls work extremely well. Not much to fault on this front.

The world is also amazing, conversations taking place outside your flat are often continued as you progress through the game, everything feels like a living breathing city and you can pick up food and items like power ups, as well as buy different clothes and all the typical sandbox stuff. It perhaps doesn't quite have the depth of something like GTA, but it comes close.

My main plight is that it doesn't quite feel as advanced as GTA 4 which is a long time ago now remember and the graphics, though very cool and Hong Kong looks great, still feels too shiny and not textured well enough. It also has very brief gun battles and often I find myself without a gun or knowing where to get one. So what if I'm one of those people that every now and then like to go on a killing spree mowing down hundreds of innocent bystanders? That's what we've all been doing for years, don't you agree? But the overall feeling of having to do good does ride through the game, I mean you're a cop after all.

Overall, this is a very solid game and something I would enjoy going back to in terms of completing all side quests etc. as it's got that pick up and play value and is engrossing to say the least. I highly recommend the game and would say it's a great little stop-gap before the huge titles come under way in the next couple of months.

Rating: 8/10

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