Sleeping Dogs review
by Ingo Lau
Sleeping Dogs is an open world undercover cop video game inspired by a famous Hong Kong movie – Internal Affairs (this is confirmed by the developers), it is a GTA like game but the player plays as a undercover cop instead of gangster or mafia.
The gameplay of Sleeping Dogs is more or less a mixture of many different games, you can feel different types of game systems merged into an open world game.
Here are some references examples:
Basic gameplay: GTA
Counter attack: Batman Arkham Aslam
Free run: Assassin’s Creed
Third person cover shooting: Gears of War
Gun fight in the car: Saint Rows
Car melee battle: Wheelman
Escaping from cops: Need for Speed
Differences between GTA and Sleeping Dogs:
- GTA has bigger maps to explore, the map in Sleeping Dogs is pretty small.
- GTA has way more equipable weapons and upgrades, Sleeping Dogs has less weapons and only one equipment slots.
- GTA relies on shooting, Sleeping Dogs relies on melee.
- Sleeping Dogs replies a lot on the environmental hazards, where you crush enemies on obstacles or objects.
- You play as cops in Sleeping Dogs, not gangster.
In short, Sleeping Dogs is a game that focuses on multiple combat systems, you can perform moves that do more damage, counter enemies at the right timing, find cover and shoot, you can even melee with your car.
However, you will not find many upgrades or variation of equipment in this game and the map is too small for exploration, although they have plenty of mini games and collectables, the replayability is lower compare to GTA, but you will feel more action packed in Sleeping Dogs.
In general, the gameplay is not super innovative or stunning, you see many things that existed in older games long time ago, but they did merge the systems quite properly, you will not find the control very weird or hard to manage, it does not have gameplay that surprise you, but it is very firm and solid.
The story is not creative, not surprising and pretty old school.
The protagonist, Wei Shen, is an undercover cop. He was sent to the gang “Sun On Yee”.
It is pretty funny there is only one time the gangster question whether Wei is a cop. Other than that, 90% of the story talks about how well Wei fight for his “brothers”(The bad guys).
It is never explained why the opposite gang “18K” always attacks Sun On Yee.
The story ends without any surprise, the senior officer who sent Wei suddenly betrays Wei, becomes a murderer and gets caught.
It brings out a clear message to the players, the new generation of gangster has changed. They no longer follow the rule of gangster. 18K killed the member of Sun On Yee during a wedding ceremony, they even started a massacre in a hospital because they just want to kill one guy, so don’t join them, it’s very bad. (Ok, that was a joke.)
The theme is very well presented, the game is pretty much a remake, or you can even call it a sequel of an old open world cop game “True Crime”, I played True Crime 1 and it was awesome, but the True Crime 3 project was on hold and renamed to Sleeping Dogs.
The environment is full of Hong Kong style, the Hong Kong culture is presented quite well in the game, especially the foul language part. As a local citizen from Hong Kong, I can see the developers did a LOT of research. The gang name is actually based on real gang in HK, I wonder if this is going to make them angry. (The only thing is actual Hong Kong cops and gangsters won’t mix English and Cantonese when they swear.)
No doubt the Hong Kong audiences love the game, but I was surprised how well it did overseas, Hong Kong is a tiny place with its own unique culture and there is no guarantee the western audiences will like it, so if anything goes wrong, it is likely to miss a large amount of worldwide audiences, but Sleeping Dogs overcomes this risk with proper promotions and marketing.
The theme becomes the most successfully factor of Sleeping Dogs, True Crime 1 was great but it’s too old, True Crime 2 sucked, True Crime 3 never made it and GTA dominated during the period, people are bored of the gangster type of open world game and missed the cops theme.
People want olds stuff/classic games once a while, it’s a natural cycle of games. They brought the undercover cops back and it worked.
Although the story and gameplay are not surprising, Sleeping Dogs came out at the right timing with the right theme and this ensure its success.