I absolutely adored Sleeping Dogs on the old generation consoles. It was a unique take on the sandbox genre and offered hours of fun in a setting that hasn’t been overdone by every video game before it. Square Enix has released it again for the new generation of consoles, with visual upgrades and all the DLC. So, is it worth revisiting?
Well, unfortunately, no it is not. That is, unless you’ve never played the game before, or you don’t want to play it on PC.
The core game is still excellent. Take on the dual role of Wei Shen, an undercover police officer in Hong Kong with the Triads. Explore your good and bad sides as you do missions for both the Triads and the police, as well as plenty of other side missions including cock fighting, Kung Fu battles and Karaoke. The game has some fantastic story telling, deep characters and loads to keep you busy. It definitely deserved the 8.5 it got in our original review. But that was two years, and things have changed.
Sleeping Dogs got an excellent visual upgrade going to the new generation. The city is even more vibrant than before and the textures are vastly improved. However, it soon starts to feel like that’s all they did – give the game some spit polish and re-release it on the new consoles.
Nagging bugs are still present in the game. In fact, I found more glitches in my playtime with the PS4 version that I did on the older consoles. Quests can’t be completed because NPCs don’t appear, or certain actions aren’t possible because the game bugs out. Add to that some strange frame rate issues when you go into certain environments or upon quest completion and the game starts to feel decidedly last-gen.
Beyond this, the engine clearly wasn’t updated. This means that multi-part quests start to feel weighed down by the constraints of previous console’s processing power. For example, one of the things you can do as a cop is go around the city to various thug hideouts, beat up all the goons and hack the security cameras – you then go back to your apartment and watch the CC TV footage and have criminals arrested. However, you need to follow those steps exactly. I wanted to shop in bulk, so I went around the city beating everyone up and hacking all the cameras, but when I got home, I could only view the one camera. That meant returning to all the previous locations, hacking the cameras again and returning home once more. These sorts of issues make the game feel outdated and frustrating.
Similarly, the combat system isn’t as fluid as more recent games with similar mechanisms. The Kung Fu system works off of the usual attacks and combos, as well as environmental awesomeness, with counter using triangle. Unfortunately, the timing is rather unforgiving, making it feel like Wei becomes useless if you counter a second too early or late. After playing such smooth new games like Shadow of Mordor or even Watch Dogs, Sleeping Dogs feels sluggish.
It certainly is excellent to have the DLC built into the game with the Definitive Edition. It makes the experience feel more full – like it was intended. However, less full is the recreated Hong Kong. Sure, there are people on the streets and the city feels vibrant with all the street food and random massage parlors, but it just doesn’t replicate that truly bustling city feeling. While this could be forgiven on the older consoles, we know that new generation consoles can handle larger crowds and more varied AI. It would have been nice if as part of making this game definitive, that included an upgrade to the living environments.
Running, swimming and driving still offer the same basic experience. The driving has an arcade feel and players can sometimes ricochet down the highway at breakneck speeds during pursuits. While the game also includes taxis for fast travel (for a nominal fee), finding a cab can still be extremely difficult. It would have been nice if the developers had added an option to players to call a cab from their in-game phone.
Finally, with the same game retailing on Steam for $30, it will really only be those who can only get the game on new generation consoles and never played it before who should be willing to shell out almost R700 for the game on PS4 or Xbox One.
Last Updated: October 31, 2014