December 30, 2012
By Oliver Layco
I’m not a big fan of open world games, so I was hesitant to get Sleeping Dogs when it was released. Part of that reason is because I am not a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. While this may be blasphemous to most, nothing about that universe was appealing to me. With the exception of Red Dead Redemption, none of Rockstar’s games looked good to me for that matter. With Sleeping Dogs, I expected it to be Rockstar’s attempt at an Asian GTA, but to my surprise it was made by Square Enix; the studio behind the epic Final Fantasy series. With this realization, my willingness to try Sleeping Dogs out opened up completely. If there was anyone who knew how to make an Asian themed open world game, it was Square Enix.
You are Wei Shen, voiced by Will Yun Lee, a cop coming back to Hong Kong from the States. During his time in the States, Wei realized that he’s needed at home and comes to work for the Hong Kong Police Department. When he starts work, he becomes an undercover cop to try and destroy the Triads from the inside out. Looking back, the story is cliché and predictable, but Square Enix did a good enough job with so many other details that you don’t really realize while playing. One instance is the voice acting; all the voice actors were actually Asian actors with the exception of a few characters. They also had a few big name actors lend their talents. Tom Wilkinson, Lucy Liu, and Emma Stone all contributed in different ways to this story. Tom voiced Wei’s boss within the HKPD, Lucy did the voice of a famous singer, while Emma did one of Wei’s love interests. As for the world of Hong Kong, Square Enix nailed it directly on the head. While I have never been there myself, they did a good job of convincing me that this was what Hong Kong would feel like. From the neon signs to the narrow streets, the amount of detail was really well thought out. With the amount of detail they could have dialed down the appearance of it all, but they didn’t. The only exception I might have is the look of the character models; they always looked like they were glistening. I don’t know of this was intentional or not, but it just looked off. There’s enough to do in this game that this shouldn’t be that much of an issue; and by enough I mean there’s endless amounts of extras in addition to the story. If I just focused on the story, I probably could have finished in 13-15 hours. However, through various side missions and collectibles I clocked in at around 25 hours. While some games make it feel like a chore to collect everything, that didn’t feel like it here. They integrated it smoothly within the world so it doesn’t seem out of the way. As for the gameplay itself, it felt smooth. There’s a basic cover system for shooting, but there’s this cool feature where you can vault out of cover and then it goes into slow motion for awhile. The other aspect of combat is hand to hand fighting; the system is similar to that of the Batman Arkham series. There are upgrades to be had and counters to master along with different enemy types. Then when you’re trying to get around the city, there’s a whole garage of cars to be purchased throughout the game. From my time spent, I like the driving controls here better than GTA; it just feels more natural. Overall this was a really well done game with some minor flaws. I could see myself playing through it once or twice more. If you’re a fan of open world games, then you won’t be disappointed. And if you’re not, then this may be the game that converts you.