Review: Sleeping Dogs (Computer)

Reviewed by Hadrian, posted Sep 20, 2012
I was excited to play this game, the video footage showed it to be quite an exhilarating ride with great combat. I was a little worried about it being very mission orientated and wondered how it'll stick up to the likes of Saints Row & GTA in terms of just going off and having some fun (though for me GTA4 lacked the fun). Usually I'd see the words "Square Enix" and "PC port" and shudder but this is handled by Square Enix Europe who were once called Eidos before the takeover and they have a good record in doing PC titles.
Sep 20, 2012
  • Release Date (NA): August 17, 2012
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Genres: Open World Action Game
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Activision decided not to publish this game as they felt that it couldn't stand up to other open world games, were they right to do so or was that a big loss that became Square Enix's gain?
Well well well what do we have here? A very high standard PC Port? GET OUT! Nope, this is actually a really good port and for a game that was originally developed for consoles it's actually quite superior to the other versions visually! I'm not just talking about resolutions, I'm talking about customisation, the lighting, FPS the lot! United Front (or the people who handled the PC version) have done an absolute excellent job in making sure the PC port is up to high standards, you could even mistake this title as one that was developed on PC and then ported to consoles. Also get this, it came out AT THE SAME TIME as the other versions! This is now the standard to live up to developers, there are no good reasons to release a shoddy PC port anymore because this game has excelled the expectations of a PC port.

You play an undercover cop named Wei Shen, who has come back to his home town of Hong Kong after a lengthy stint in the US. While he is there is meets up with a longtime childhood friend, Jackie Mah, who just so happens to be a low level member of the Son On Yee, because of this he is tasked to infiltrate triads by getting in via Jackie and working his way to the top and gaining the trust of head guy Winston Chu. Obviously this isn't all plain sailing, the guy has to prove himself to not be a cop (due to a previous member turning out to being one) and also he has to be efficient in doing the jobs the Triad require him to do.

Of course this is a modern video game and like most of them you have to go through some training so you get to grips with combat & driving. This made the first half of the game to be a touch boring and it kinda made the game to be more of a open world beat-em-up than anything else but stick with it because there is so much more to the game than fighting and driving.

Unlike a lot of these open world games, this game is focused more on combat to get past the baddies. This system is quite similar to the Arkham games...not a surprise as United Front had help from the folk who worked on the Arkham games. Personally, I found the combat to be not as good. While you do get to learn a lot of moves in the game from dancers and from collecting statues around the city and then handing them in to the temple to learn more fighting techniques. I tend to not use the new moves that much as regular brawling is good enough for me to get through, whereas in Batman I used the new moves a lot. Also there seems to be a little delay with hitting someone, nothing massive in fact some people may not notice it but it seems to be quarter of a second between me pressing a button to the action happening. I played a friends PS3 version to see if this was an issue with the PC version and it was the same delay.

As well as fighting you do get to do some gun play too, luckily the training for this is a lot better, more fun and shorter. Gun play is pretty much what you'd expect only it feels a lot tighter than other open world games, in fact they could easily have made the game a 3rd person shooter and you would be happy with how it is implemented, which you can't quite say the same to other games like GTA etc. There are some excellent shoot-outs in this game and I feel that the gun play in this game couldn't be any better than it already is.

To get around, obviously you can walk and run but running costs stamina but as with these games vehicles are the way to go. You start off with a motorcycle which controls quite nicely and you also get your hands on some impounded vehicles that you use on undercover missions. The vehicles handle very nicely, I never had much of an issue getting around quickly at a good speed and I found it easy to avoid vehicles quickly. One issue I have with the driving system is the collision. There I am speeding down a highway and I slam head on into a car. My bike stops, that is all! However if you go top speed you will be flung off your bike for some distance but still anyone knows that if you're doing even 30mph and you hit something, you'll be leaving your bike and looking to be having a skin graft. There are some great and unique driving features to aid you in a high speed chase. One is having a dedicated button that will make you slam into another vehicle to try and get them off road and another is something I really liked! This feature is when you get close to a vehicle you can simply jump from the one you're driving and jump through the window of the one you're after so you can take over it. This made the game live up to the inspiration that it takes from action movies that feature Hong Kong location heavily.

The missions themselves are really good, I myself prefer open world games where I can just go off and do crazy crap for hours but in this game I really enjoy doing the missions. They're not the same fetch quests over and over, there is a nice variety and you never feel like you're doing the same thing. One minute you're having to stealthy follow a gang to find out what they are up to and then take a photo of them in the act and the next you're singing "I Fought The Law" via karaoke to win favour of a lady. Also unlike in GTA4 where if you fail a mission you have to start all over again, there are checkpoints in the mission so that you only have to restart it few moments ago. Once you have completed a mission you get to level up your character, this feels more like the Arkham games than other open world titles and that itself was very pleasing. You can decide on what sort of strengths you want your character to have like with most titles that implement a RPG system.

Along the way you have to make sure that you're not only pleasing the Son On Yee Triads but also the police. This is done by Face XP where you make sure Wei has a good level of reputation with everyone at a whole. Things like clothing, accessories and vehicles will have an effect on the characters and how they see Wei. Police XP is where you need to make sure you're doing your job properly and by the book and also Triad XP where you try to keep your trust level high with Son On Yee.

The story is fantastic and so is the dialogue. Some lines are little clichéd but the writers really have done their work by making sure it's different to what you see in games and it represents more of a high budget movie quality feel then other video games. The thugs didn't feel like the typical run of the mill thugs and they displayed intelligence, charm and humour. The voice acting I felt was really good too, no poor imitations of Chinese accents they used proper actors to deliver the lines so that they don't come off as being stereotypes. There are some really great characters that are very likeable like Winston's finance Peggy and a murderous Granny named Mrs Chuu who helps dispose of rivals with a meat cleaver! As well as the main plot there are some sub-plots in there too like romance with a lady named Amanda (played by Emma Stone) which actually adds to the depth and doesn't feel tacked on at all. Also there is the friction in the police force as some cops don't agree with the tactics of the lead officer in the operation.

As I mentioned, the voice acting is great but the overall sound in the games is fantastic too. NPC's and traffic really making you feel like the city of Hong Kong is alive and also the main soundtrack helps set the scenes brilliantly. The only downside is the actual tracklisting, while there is some great tracks here and there, there doesn't seem to be enough of them in there. Switch on a station and you will hear the same track that it was playing 15 minutes ago.

Graphically, on the PC it's really good...once you have installed the HD pack. While it does have the "shiny shiny" looks that modern games do it does have little things like for example when it rains you can see the tire tracks and also Wei's clothes gets soaked. For me this has some of the best rain effects in a modern game and unlike some others the rain changes how the city looks. The textures and models are as good as they can be this gen but I do feel that the faces, especially when speaking, could have been improved.

All in all I felt that this was a truly modern game, I feel that a lot of games play like last gen titles but prettier. Sleeping Dogs didn't give me that feeling, it felt like a "best of" of what modern gaming can offer and I can't believe that it went wasn't as hyped up as it should have been! Luckily reviews have been great and the game is outselling games that have had more press coverage. Hopefully this title will also get a boost when it comes to the "End of Year" polls as it should feature quite highly in those.

Gameplay trailer​
+ Amazing PC port!
+ Looks fantastic
+ Varied gameplay
+ Lots to do
+ Good difficulty curve
+ Good story and voice acting
+ Plays like a "best of" of open world games.
- The initial training is dull and overlong.
- Combat could be a lot better
- Some physics like crashing a vehicle into something are a bit off.
9 Presentation
The PC version looks great and the HD pack makes it even better. Everything is plain and clear, nothing fidgity at all and I love the lighting of the city, especially when it rains. It may be a little too shiny at times though.
8 Gameplay
Fine and responsive, I felt there was a tiny bit of delay with combat but nothing major. Like with some games like this it is best played with a controller rather than keyboard and mouse. The game is very varied, you don't get bored doing the same thing over and over and unlike others in the genre the missions aren't just fetch quests.
9 Lasting Appeal
Not too much and not too little, it felt just right. There are at least 25+ hours of game to 100% EVERYTHING but some people may take longer finding all the content in this game.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
This is a fantastic game and very well done too. It does feel like a truly modern game in design, presentation and the way the story moves around. I would mark it a 9 but I felt the combat wasn't as responsive as it should have been.