Thursday, August 16, 2012

REVIEW - Sleeping Dogs (PS3/360)

Another month, another open world crime sandbox action game.

This game had a bit of a troubled development. Originally a new IP, then retooled into a reboot of the True Crime series, it was cancelled by Activision due to delays and budget problems. Eventually it was picked up by Square Enix and released as Sleeping Dogs.

Who gets the last laugh?







Structurally, there's almost nothing to differentiate this from the masses of similar games released almost constantly. There's a large city made up of different districts, there's characters in the city that give you missions, there's side missions, there mini game activities. you steal cars, you shoot people etc. Been there, done that, yeah? What sets this game game apart, at least superficially, is the setting. Set in in the Triad infested streets of Hong Kong, it maintains an atmosphere reminiscent of action films by Ringo Lam and John Woo throughout. This is a world of slow motion gunfights and bone breaking kicks to the face.


Pictured: That thing I said.

Story wise there's nothing mind bending going on here. Your character, Wei Shen, starts at the bottom of a minor gang, and a series of turf battles and backstabbings help to promote him into higher positions in the organization. What does give the story a little something special is the fact that Wei is also an undercover Police officer. Over the course of the game you carry out missions from both sides of the law, trying to be just bad enough to gain trust from the gang but not so bad the police have to take you down. It can get pretty conflicting, but the story never gets as tense as something like The Departed (or more appropriately, Infernal Affairs). I found the Police missions more interesting, but mostly because it's quite different to be playing as one of the good guys in these games. Overall, it's nothing new, but it manages to be intriguing the entire way.


Cue the doves.

Driving the story is a cast of voice talents comprised of a who's who of Asian celebrities (and oddly enough, Emma Stone). And yes, James Hong makes his almost mandatory appearance. The results are....a mixed bag. At some times it's well acted, others it sounds like a sub par kung-fu movie dub (which you could almost believe was intentional if it was a little bit worse). Some characters will speak like they are at a mall in Beverly Hills, others will speak in terribly broken English. And the characters have the tendency to just switch back and forth between English and Cantonese, even mid sentence. It is there to remind you that, oh yeah, China, but I'd actually prefer if the game was mostly in Cantonese.

Similarly the graphics are hit and miss. This is an ugly game, technically. The textures are very basic, the character models range from ugly to almost not ugly. Facials animation is wooden, at best. There's plenty of screen tearing, and the frame rate is not always consistent. But this is a very colorful game (a rarity this gen) , and the lighting impresses, especially at night. So overall the visuals manage to please anyway, despite all the faults.


Hey, grey and brown are colors!

The gunplay in Sleeping Dogs is competent. Other than the fact that at some points you can slow down time, it's exactly what you'd expect as far as mechanics go. The left trigger aims, the right trigger fires. You can go into cover, and fire blindly.

"But Luchalma" you say "This is China, I want to Kung-Fu  people."

One, that's culturally insensitive. And two, I don't think you're supposed to use Kung-Fu as a verb. But yes, you spend the majority of this game in hand to hand combat And in that sense it doesn't disappoint at all. Clearly inspired by Rocksteady's Batman games, the combat focuses on fighting large groups of people, with an emphasis on counters, disarms and stuns. It's not as fluid as Batman's Freeflow system, but the hits feel just as visceral. You can pick up weapons from enemies and the environment, and when grabbing enemies you can throw them in all manner of environmental hazards such as fans, ovens, and on meat hooks. It's pretty gruesome, but always satisfying.


Business hours are closed.

After missions, you will get Police Experience, or Triad Experience (or Face Experience, for side missions). There's a simple RPG aspect to the game. When you level up these factions, you get a point to spend on a very simple skill tree. If you do most of the missions, you should be able to get most if not all skills in every tree. One minor complaint is that, during missions, any unlawful behavior loses Police XP. When driving from one side of the map to the other, you can imagine how hard it is to avoid hitting the stray pedestrian or mail box, especially during chase missions.

There's no multiplayer in Sleeping Dogs. Instead, there's a fairly extensive meta game of stat tracking. Things like number of headshots, longest wheelie, and longest air time in a car are all tracked and placed on a leaderboard at all times. I didn't have any friends playing the game when I was, but if you have friends playing the game and like to prove how much better you are this could be a great inclusion.

Fourth in the entire world at safe driving....... Shut up, that's the highest I've ever been on a global leaderboard...

The main story and a good sampling of side missions and all mini games took me about 15 hours. But there are still tons of thing to collect, more cocks to fight, more races to win, more drug deals to bust.



 Sleeping Dogs does almost nothing you haven't seen before, but what it does, it does very well.






15 comments:

  1. You basically called every feature in the game bad but you still gave it 4 out of 5 stars. You should stop reviewing games your thought process makes no sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feedback. I shall seriously consider it.




      heheheheh

      Delete
  2. He gave it four sleeping dogs out of 5 there genius. I've never met someone stupid enough to confuse dogs with stars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh, those are Chow Chows...

      Delete
  3. Yeah u sound like u weren't impressed and give it 4 stars give it less stars or give it more praise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just don't see it. I said the setting is unique, the story is intriguing, the graphics manage to be pleasing, the battle system is intense and it has tons of things to do. Yeah I explained the faults I had with it, but this is a game where it's more than the sum of its parts.

      Delete
    2. That's the problem, you don't see it. Read your article you said way more bad things about the game then good. Your rating doesn't match your review. I was expecting a 2 after reading your review and you gave it a 4. I enjoy the game your review was just confusing like if you were trying to hard or something.

      Delete
  4. I was looking forward to this game for ten years and now that I have read the review I QUIT!

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOL four sleeping dogs.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think the last sentance sums it up nicely "Sleeping dogs does almost nothing you haven't seen before but what it does it does well.". What's confusing about that?

    ReplyDelete
  7. "But Luchalma" you say "This is China, I want to Kung-Fu people."

    One, that's culturally insensitive. And two, I don't think you're supposed to use Kung-Fu as a verb.

    I haven't laughed so hard all week. I don't know if this is golden humour, or if I'm just simple; Either way, thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My interest in this game went from 0 to 70%. Bravo.

    Then again, it's easy to hype me up for a game but you still made me read it by coming to your blog. Damn you, Aru! More money I don't have is being theoretically spent!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gorilla With CocksAugust 21, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    WHAT THE HELL IS THIS REVIEW? WHY IS THIS 4 SLEEPING DOG OUT OF 5 YOU SON OF BITCH. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT YOU CAN'T SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT A GAME AND GIVE IT 4 DOG. THIS WAS MY GAME AND YOU JUST RUINED IT!! I CANNOT PLAY AGAIN, EITHER DROP THE REVIEW TO 3 SLEEPING DOG, OR REMOVE 1 NEGATIVE COMMENT TO MAINTAIN BALANCE.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well, you know what I think as per the GFAQs thread, nevertheless, I still enjoyed your review, if only thinking that you give the combat a little more credit than it is due - however I do appreciate you pointing out that it is in fact inferior to Batman.

    ReplyDelete