Published on August 18th, 2012 | by thoseguyspodcast0
Sleeping Dogs Dual Review
Sleeping Dogs is a Hard Boiled cinema style open world game set in the beautiful and dangerous city of Hong Kong. You play as undercover cop Wei Shen who is tasked with infiltrating a dangerous criminal organization known as the Sun On Yi. Featuring driving, hand to hand combat, gunplay and various other gameplay elements, Sleeping Dogs proves to be not only immersive, but extremely well rounded.
Ed’s Thoughts: Gameplay
As mentioned briefly before, the game features a wide variety of gameplay elements. There are games built entirely around just driving, brawling or gunplay, but Sleeping Dogs puts it all together gloriously, with each mechanic playing remarkably well. When I first got into the open world section of the game and stepped into a car, I was blown away with how well it handled. I felt as if I was playing a full fledged racing game, and it worked very well in this setting. However, I was disappointed with the radio selection. After being blown away with amazing metal acts such as The Black Dahlia Murder, Goatwhore, and Between The Buried And Me in Saints Row The Third, it was disappointing to only find kiddie metal such as Soulfly and Fear Factory being offered on the metal station. Only 10% of the songs played on the Indie Rock station are really great. It is unfortunate there was no MP3 Radio feature built into this game. As a fan of the Batman Arkham series, I was amazed to find the brawling system was similar, but even more in depth than Batman’s brawling system. With a variety of different combat styles, techniques, and weapons, Wei Shen becomes an unstoppable force in capable hands. Gunplay is primarily cover based, everything is implemented very well, and aiming feels smooth and responsive. It should also be noted that sections that included firing from a moving vehicle are incredibly well controlled. Head-shots net you a nice little bonus to your experience which will go towards unlocking new abilities. These new abilities are minor but very useful, some feature ways to hijack cars without triggering alarm systems, or increased bullet time when jumping out of cover. Among other neat bonuses are health increases for discovering Health Shrines which are scattered around the map. Overall the gameplay was handled very well, it really feels as if I have several games for the price of one.
Ryan’s Thoughts: Gameplay
The Gameplay is mixed between shooting, fighting, driving and various minigames, all work well enough but the martial arts combat is what truly makes the game shine. Sleeping dogs has some of the best choreography i have seen in a video game since Shenmue 2. Great pains were taken to make the combat feel like the real deal even getting UFC champion George Saint Pierre to help with the motion capture. You can find techniques from Muay Thai, Kung Fu and Kyokushin in Wei’s style and it all flows really well relying primarily on an Arkham city style countering system. The techniques executed in the game match things I have seen in the dojo all my life and it cannot be overstated how well united front games has succeeded in building a believable fighting system. You spend a lot of time behind the wheel driving from mission to mission in Sleeping Dogs and the driving mechanics work well enough even if it does feel floaty at times. Sharp turns are very hard to execute on mouse and keyboard without smashing into the walls but it is hard to make driving work on keyboard to begin with. The gunplay in Sleeping Dogs is lifted straight out of a John Woo movie taking obvious cues from the Hard Boiled movie with slow-motion, diving from cover and even a mission involving a shootout in a hospital. The Controls feel loose and getting head shots is a breeze the only problem with the gunplay is that getting in and out of cover can be tricky and Wei will sometimes face the wrong direction and spaz out when moving fast. Finally the mini games such as picking locks, hacking camera and tracking calls….you know undercover cop stuff all work adequately with the exception of hacking, by far the most obnoxious hacking system in gaming history. Sleeping dogs is published by Square Enix who just last year released Deus Ex Human Revolution that had the best hacking minigame I have ever played, in a game that borrows so heavily from outside influences it boggles the mind why they wouldn’t here as well.
Ed’s Thoughts: Graphics
Never before have I seen a more beautifully rendered city. Not only is the city an absolute joy to explore, the NPCs that populate it are incredibly lively. The diversity in NPC models and actions really make the city come alive. The PC version comes with a stunning hi-res texture pack which makes absolutely everything from the tattoos to the ads strewn about the city pop. Even more impressive is this pack has a nearly un-noticeable effect on FPS. The game was extremely well optimized for pc. I mentioned earlier that I was driving around for hours when I first had the opportunity; this was in large part to the city being so beautiful that I just wanted to take it all in. There are big highway sections that link major parts of the city together, and they are just a blast to drive through, especially in the rain. There are plenty of atmospheric effects in the game that add depth to the overall appeal of the city. Sleeping Dogs is certainly one of the best looking games so far in 2012.
Ryan’s Thoughts: Graphics
The landscape in Sleeping Dogs is breathtaking with great pains being taken for every detail of the city, including the grass and water. Details on facial animations with the HD texture pack on PC are even better than that of the highly revered Heavy Rain an impressive feat. When Wei is standing in the rain you can see the water falling off his face and jacket, when he gets hit his nose will bleed it is truly incredible to see. This is for the PC version, the console versions graphics are still good but facial animations look stiff and almost dead eyed on PS3 and Xbox unlike its PC counterpart. Even with a high end computer I could only run sleeping dogs on high setting with the HD texture pack I can only imagine how good the game looks on ultra setting.
Ed’s Thoughts: Story
Part of Sleeping Dogs’ story focuses on Wei Shen’s struggle with separating reality from the life he is pretending to lead. This is referenced lightly in short nightmare sequences. It is a very interesting plot device for a game of this type, since normally vulnerability is not focused upon with these kinds of characters. The rest seems to be fairly typical undercover cop drama. Nothing exceptional, but not boring either.
Ryan’s Thoughts: Story
The Story in Sleeping Dogs follows a very cliché undercover cop movie vibe but it works well and the atmosphere is believable. The writing is good but not great simply because it tends to be predictable at times. Do not expect the sophisticated dialogue of the godfather or the snappy liners of Goodfellas but Sleeping Dogs has its moments with most of the main cast including Wei Shen having top notch voice actors making the tension believable. The voice acting is great but has exceptions you will hardly be able to contain laughter when overhearing certain NPCs talk; you would swear they hired William Hung to read the lines. I am dead serious. Despite the cheesy stereotypical sounding randoms the voice acting is solid and the story is well written if a bit cliché but it is made up for and then some with some of the best set pieces i have played in years. The story will have you going from busting people for protection money to getting caught in a gang war and even a shootout at a wedding! If this was an action movie you would be on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Ed’s Thoughts: Criticisms & Praises
I would like to get this off my chest. Dear PC Developers, STOP MAKING 1080 x 1920 THE DEFAULT SCREEN RESOLUTION! Sleeping Dogs is in an unfortunate spot where I cannot change this resolution problem to accommodate my smaller screen while in full screen mode so I am forced to play the game in windowed mode. I understand you want the gamers to boot up the game and start playing at peak performance. However, comparing the tediousness and time consumed of fixing an out of range resolution problem vs. bumping up your resolution in options is like comparing the Titanic tragedy to a stubbed toe. Hacking minigames are usually the bane of my existence, but the hacking system in Sleeping Dogs makes being smothered to death by Rosie O’Donnell while lobsters claw at your genitals sound like a better pass-time. It is a tedious, time consuming, and random number guessing game. I would rather all radio stations in the game play Hot Problems by Double Take than have this hacking minigame. Another criticism I have for this game is the romance options, or should I say the one night stand options. It seems that Wei Shen will fuck anything with 2 legs and a vagina. Early in the game I visited a girl named Tiffany to sing some Karaoke, Apparently that was enough for her to do the do. I was later contacted by a girl I only know as Not Ping to help her with some camera hacking, I’m not quite sure how we went from hacking cameras to the bedroom but apparently we did, because Tiffany paid me back for this transgression by cheating on me. Call me naive, but until Tiffany chewed me out for cheating on her, I wasn’t even aware Wei had slept with either of these girls. Not to mention Wei apparently slept with these girls on his second or third time meeting with them. I didn’t get a feel for the girl’s personalities or in Not Ping’s case even a name before Wei slept with them. This whole situation can blindside you and it is uncomfortable. Not only did it make Wei unlikable, but the girls as well. However, with that said there is so much to appreciate in this game. My guilty pleasure is just driving around and exploring the city, even fruitless ventures reveal an enjoyable stroll through the park or a gorgeous view of the city. Sleeping Dogs is everything I expected and more.
Ryan’s Thoughts: Criticisms & Praises
Sleepings Dogs overall is a solid game but it does have its flaws. Other than the utterly atrocious hacking minigame it also suffers from camera issues. The game is third person you see over the shoulder of Wei Shen but when turning around fast the camera tends to get loopy and at the worst possible times can even get stuck. When backing up in a car often the camera will spaz out in transition not sure if you want it to face forward or backward. The AI in the game is also only decent with the police being bi polar sociopaths, for example i once went on a spree running over civilians at will with a car and the cops never showed up. On the other hand i fired a bullet in the air and all of a sudden I had 3 armored cars and the swat team after me, makes perfect sense. The AI for thugs and random pedestrians is much better however street thugs will block your punches and kick and throw attack accordingly pedestrians will jump out of the way of your car and run away if they hear shots fired. At the end of the day the martial arts choreography is the holy grail of this game, it cannot be overstated how fluent, realistic and well choreographed it is. Every time i counter a thugs right hook with a block followed by a knee to the chest into a hip throw i felt like i was in a jet li movie and that is saying something. Sleeping Dogs has Action, drama and the best martial arts system since Shenmue 2 what else could you want?
Ed’s final score:
9.5 / 10