Trust me, the name is deceiving – there is nothing sleepy about this title. There’s no counting sheep in Sleeping Dogs. Square Enix have made a real gem here; imagine Grand Theft Auto combined with Saints Row with a dash of Red Dead Redemption, just for luck. That’s pretty much what this game is, the best aspects of its contemporaries bundled up into one, big, exciting title. If that’s not reason enough to play the game, here are four more.
2) The story line is incredibly engaging. There’s a lot to love about Sleeping Dogs and the story itself is just one aspect. You play as part-time undercover cop, part-time Gang Lord, part-time arse-kicker, Wei Shen. Wei has the charm of Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, combined with the martial arts skills and general athleticism of Bruce Lee. To be honest, he blows Niko Bellic, Carl Johnson and Toni Cipriani out of the water – never has there been such a bad-ass protagonist in a Sandbox game. The basic synopsis being that Wei is attempting to sabotage the Triad gang society in Hong Kong, killing and beating the crap out of anyone who stands in his way. It’s a fantastic concept for a game, being able to play as a good-guy pretending to be a bad-guy gives you both sides of the story. I felt myself gaining a connection with the gang members that I was working to bring down as well as developing a dislike for certain members of the police force; Hong Kong has dirty cops galore.
3) The characters are well developed and add real depth to the game. There are a good number of likeable and detestable characters in the Sleeping Dogs world, from loveable full-time gang boss and part-time bully Winston Chu (Perry Shen) to sleazy Police Superintendant, Thomas Pendrew (Tom Wilkinson). Everyone has their own role to play in making the story tick, and tick it does. These characters seem incredibly believable in a world where the difference between good and bad is a blurred gray line, and it’s in this gray line that the characters of Sleeping Dogs fall.
4) Combat is crazy fun. It’s probably one of the best combat systems in the market. Hand to hand combat is what makes this game so special, utilising the best aspects of games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum or The Amazing Spider Man and injecting their own twist into the mix. Wei is able to utilise his surroundings, using the environment to deal crushing finishers, such as ploughing a bad guy’s face into the spinning fan of an air conditioner or using the sliding metal shutter of a shop window to crush their rib-cage. Wei can also deal killer combos and, through the use of skill points gained through experience and collecting hidden Jade Statues, learn new skills and moves to really kick some ass. Of course, as with any crime related sandbox game, there are plenty of guns. Your arsenal is nowhere near as wide and varied as Sleeping Dogs’ competitors, Wei can only carry one gun at a time and you will spend most of the game without a firearm. Yet, this doesn’t take anything away from the combat, Wei’s fists and feet are more than enough to take on the underworld of Hong Kong.
5) The setting is impressive. Hong Kong feels full of life, with its hustling city streets and quiet back alleys. There’s a lot to explore and it really feels like an original setting. There aren’t any games quite like it as it combines the traditional values of Chinese life with the darker troubles of corruption, greed and violence that run through the Triad culture.
So, if that isn’t enough to spark your interest, maybe the fact that this game is actually pretty cheap might grab your attention. Retailers such as Game are selling it for a steal at just £13 and Amazon US for just $16.18 – there really is no excuse not to pick this game up!