Sleeping Dogs preview–Hard Boiled Action

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Sleeping Dogs

Geoff was given an early hands on with Sleeping Dogs back in early April and he absolutely loved it so when another opportunity to get our hands on Sleeping Dogs arose I jumped at the chance and have been Kung Fu kicking, shooting and hacking my way through the world of Sleeping Dogs for the past few weeks.. these are my thoughts.

The backstory

By now you most likely know the basis of Sleeping Dogs but if not, you are an undercover police officer in Hong Kong who’s job it is to infiltrate the deadly triad and help bring them down from the inside out.

However you will very soon realise that it isn’t that easy to stay good while embedded within the triad and you will quickly find your hands covered in blood and making decisions based on honour and the triad code instead of doing the right thing.

It’s a great premise and while I’m unsure if they will be able to pull it off over the entire scale of the game it is a nice change from the bad guy perspective of Grand Theft Auto or the insanity of Saints Row.

The Competition

What competition?Let’s get this out of the way straight away, while developers and the like rarely enjoy being compared to other games there is no way to ignore the fact that a huge open world game based in a free roaming city is going to be compared with Grand Theft Auto and even Saints Row.

So how does it compare? Well great so far as it very much has its own heart and style with the fighting and driving mechanisms being vastly improved over either of those titles and the story being entirely different.

Sleeping Dogs can easily stand up against these two giant titles and is well worth a look if you are an open world fan.

Driving and Racing

Driving

One of the oddities in Sleeping Dogs is that they have included a full set of racing stages embedded in the game and as you drive around you will find the orange glowing spots that signify a race. But be careful which races you enter as they are classed differently and if you enter a class B race with a dodgy C class car you are going to get destroyed.

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The racing mechanic itself is solid enough and reminds me quite a lot of the racing style of Burnout Paradise which has always been one of my favourite racing titles. The cars are still a little floaty and if you were hoping for a Forza/GT5 styled simulation inside this game then you are going to be sorely mistaken.

The vast array of vehicles in Sleeping Dogs is also quite impressive and with the ability to store your cars in garages across the city you are never to far from some driving pleasure, or in true open world style you can just hijack anyone on the street and take their car or bike for a spin.

One such experience for me had me attempting to outrun the police on an underpowered scooter… which I had accidently thought was a superbike.

The Fighting

One of the biggest differences between Sleeping Dogs and any other open world game is the fighting mechanic, in the early game you start off with the ability to punch and grapple with enemies much like in most games. However as you progress you unlock new moves and combinations and towards the end you are a lean mean fighting machine.

However it’s not just the combinations and free form fighting that makes the fight scenes exciting but the ability to use the environment to gain the upper hand. In my time with the game I managed to crush someone with an engine block, embed another head in an electricity box, throw someone in the boot of a car and into a ventilation shaft to name a few.

It really does add some excitement to the game and you spend your time trying to find new and unusual ways to win your fights using the environment.

Parkour

Parkour

The games not all about driving and fighting however, you also get to do a lot of chasing down bad guys or running away from cops and instead of simply running away and hiding you get to experience some solid parkour by running through the open world city and leaping from roof tops to roof tops and over balconies.

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All in all it works very nicely and is exceptionally simply with the entire parkour experience being controlled with the analogue stick and a single button.

Chest

Exploration

And how could we talk about an open world game without ever mentioning one of my all time favourites, Crackdown. And the best thing about Crackdown was those orbs and in Sleeping Dogs there is a comparison experience of sorts. While the exploration in Sleeping Dogs isn’t as vertical as in Crackdown the world is still scattered with blue tool boxes and healing shrines with the goal being to find all of them.

It’s a nice little addition to the game that will add a lot of replay ability even after you have completed the story.

The Story

Unfortunately due to an NDA and a strong desire of not wanting to ruin it for you I can’t say much about the story but what I can say is that it’s intriguing and engrossing.

But what I can say is that as expected you start on the bottom rung of the triad and need to prove yourself as an enforcer and that you are trustful before you can start to move up.

As the game progresses you will start climbing the rungs of the triad and through bloodshed, politics and a bit of inter triad rivalry. You’ll never really know who is on your side and who can be trusted, not to mention whether or not you’ve gone too deep into the world of the Chinese underworld to ever make it out again.

Sleeping Dogs is being released locally this Friday on PS3, PC and Xbox 360 and if you are a fan of open world games or hard boiled action movies then this is an absolute must buy.

Launch Trailer

Last Updated: August 13, 2012

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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