Summers are usually a dry time for gamers. You may be lucky enough to get 1 or 2 quality games between May and September before all of the fall stuff comes out. This year I have used this time to complete stuff that I failed to complete late last year and early this year and, siiiiiiigh, I still have yet to complete Mass Effect 3. I am digressing, so anyway, yeah this is one of those years that as the late summer starts to kick in, we get that one quality title to come out before the onslaught of fall games.
Sleeping Dogs, a game published by Square Enix, will be the sleeper game that nobody has heard about and may slip under your radar. It’s the spiritual successor to the True Crime series and is a Far East take on the GTA series.
The game, unlike the GTA series starts off with a big bang and also attempt to streamline some of the GTA elements by keeping you focused mostly on the missions at hand. So far from what I have experienced, the game itself has great writing as well as great voice talent as it tells a not so common story of an undercover cop trying to infiltrate the Triads in Hong Kong.
One of the big aspects that I like in this game is the ability to incorporate some RPG elements in the game a’la SWKOTOR style. You get XP in 3 areas: Face XP (general public opinion), Triad XP (Triad devotion) and Cop (Cop devotion). You earn these in varying degrees based on how much or how little damage you do as you rampage through the streets of HK on your missions as well as your side missions.
Another aspect that some may enjoy is the combat style which was lifted from the Batman: Arkham series. You earn points by the number of combos and counters you pull off and while its nice on paper, occasionally it doesn’t always work in game as sometimes you almost have to wait for enemies to attack to pull your moves. Another aspect to these attacks are environmental bonuses you get for things like throwing enemies into dumpsters, electrocution and other sick moves and these moves can be leveled as you progress in the game.
One of the best ways that Sleeping Dogs has taken at trimming the fat from the game is that within a few hours of playing you can earn a lot of cash for things like wardrobe, cars and other items to get your gangsta on as opposed to the GTA series where earning certain perks takes a lot longer to get.
As far as the environment itself, it’s very lifelike and you will hear English mixed with Cantonese and the city feels alive and sprawling. Even the passersby have a somewhat more lifelike feel than what I have seen in GTA.
Graphically, in some areas, the game does feel a bit dated as if this was done a few years ago, this would have been a great answer to GTA and Saint’s Row but for what it is with tight story telling and action, this game really is what Stranglehold from 2007 should have been.
This game gets an 8 out 10.