AMD Radeon HD 6950
If your appetite is keen for another open world fix, you've already polished off the likes of Prototype 2 and are busy trying to forget the experience, then Sleeping Dogs is here to save the day! Despite appearances, this is no ordinary open world crime game. Set in Hong Kong and with a focus clearly on martial arts and melee combat, Sleeping Dogs attempts to innovate just enough, to set this adventure a peg above the rest.
As undercover cop Wei Shen, you are tasked with infiltrating the fearsome triad gangs of Hong Kong and bringing them down from the inside. You're not just following the orders of your typically stubborn and clueless bosses though, your character has his own reasons for wanting to take on such a dangerous assignment. Sleeping Dogs clearly positions itself in the same way as Internal Affairs and the Departed, two brilliant films dealing with undercover cops, mysteries and bloodshed. In fact, the story is one of the best bits of this game, which is strange for an open world title, where the emphasis is usually on the gameplay. The again, the gameplay is so strong that you wonder how they had the time to build up both of these elements to such a fine level, but more on that later.
Fast bikes, nice weather. Wei is living the dream!
Through well made cut scenes, plenty of dialogue and fist pounding action, Sleeping Dogs delivers its tale superbly. There's a diverse assortment of characters who you'll grow to love or hate. In the case of the latter, it makes killing certain bad guys very satisfying. Wei Shen definitely comes across as an everyman, one who you'll find sympathy with for his extremely stressful task. As if he had it bad enough having to avoid suspicion within the triad, he's also got incompetent bosses in the police department, who don't understand the reality of his situation. Despite this, you never get the feeling Wei Shen is struggling under the weight of his task. Aside from hearing the voices of characters echoed in his head as he wakes up shaken, Wei finds it easy to go back to the triads and win their trust by killing a lot of dudes. I feel more could have been done to portray the difficulty in being an undercover cop, Shen is far too willing to work for the triads, rarely is he seen consulting with any police officers.
Make no mistake though, you'll be kept on the edge of your seat by the story. For the first time in my case, I was willing to power through the story missions when I would otherwise have taken things slower, simply because I wanted to see what happened next. It's bloody, brutal and at times, very touching. Despite the dissonance in Wei's convictions and actions, you'll enjoy the story immensely.
Wei's voyeurism knew no limits.
Sleeping Dogs' Hong Kong is certainly a sight to be marvelled at. Beautifully created, the neon lit metropolis is a joy to simply drive around in and explore. Roads curve and turn across various elevations, giving the city a unique layout and a complex feel. It is chaotic, in the absolute best way possible. It certainly however, feels less dynamic and free form as GTA's Liberty City, or even Saints Row's Steelport. I would describe it as more akin to Mafia 2's world, in that the vaguely scripted feel of exploring the city, made so by the inhibiting physics, means you get the feeling of exploring a set, as opposed to a living, breathing place. This is evident in how bodies disappear should you turn away, or how killing a group of thugs on a street corner, then driving down the street and coming back, results in them instantly respawning as if nothing was amiss. It's a hard thing to describe in words, but you'll recognise the feeling when you play. Despite this, Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs is a great open world city. Sure, the AI routines and traffic patterns may not be so complex as GTA's, but the layout, collectibles that reap rewards and the simple pleasure in the side missions set here, all mean that Sleeping Dogs pulls off an open world like no other.
A world as great as this wouldn't be complete without interesting missions and tasks, so thankfully, Sleeping Dog's is full of such content. With 30 story missions to complete, you'll also find yourself completing repeatable jobs for certain characters, completing favour missions which pop up randomly on the map and competing in races. Add to this a plethora of collectibles to find, all of which bestow some form of benefit, and you'll certainly have a lot to keep you in Hong Kong.
Game of the year, every year.
The missions mostly contain multiple objectives and things to do. They progress naturally as well, starting with low level extortion in a market place. But by game's end, you'll find yourself in epic shootouts in grand locations. I found the missions far more enjoyable than those in other open world games, this stems from a few reasons. Firstly, the melee combat system is so good, that you relish every fight. The driving also meets the right balance between arcade and realism, allowing you to get around with ease and have fun at the same time. All in the same mission, you could find yourself stealing a disguise and sneaking into an area, before beating up some bad guys, taking a few pictures as evidence for a case and making off in a high speed pursuit. It is just fun to play, you can also replay missions through the menu for a better score and bragging rights.
- Tell me more: The story is finely crafted and worth paying attention to.
- Looks great plays great: Graphically lovely, Sleeping Dogs is also well optimised for lots of hardware levels.
- Melee goodness: One of the best combat systems in a game, beating people up has never been so fun.
- Little bits: Pinging the map to automatically show the way to missions, the social hub and an upgrade system all add up the innovation.
- All alone, sort of: No multiplayer may annoy some people, but the social hubs redeems it.
- Camera pains: The camera can sometimes be a pain to use, changing speeds in fights when compared to running and walking.