In case you haven’t been following it, Sleeping Dogs is a game with quite a history, despite the fact it hasn’t even been released yet. Once titled True Crime: Hong Kong, it was being published by Activision until the company dropped it. It was then picked up by Square Enix, who renamed the game Sleeping Dogs and continued with its production. Now on its way out the door to retailer shelves, United Front Games’ newest project doesn’t suffer from any sort of development fatigue that might be expected of a game that has been through the same scenario. Quite the opposite, actually. With gameplay footage being seen at E3 and a handful of new leaks and releases, Sleeping Dogs looks to be an ambitious new title embarking into the same genre space as the likes of Saint’s Row and Grand Theft Auto. Here are five reasons this game should be on your radar:
1) A New Take on the Open World
In Sleeping Dogs players take control of Hong Kong cop Wei Shen, a man who has been given a daunting task: go undercover and infiltrate the Chinese underworld in an attempt to bring down the powerful Triads gang. From there, you’ll be given a story line to complete through missions, and will also have the opportunity to complete side missions that help you gain “face” and garner a reputation with the rest of the gang. Your reputation will unlock certain actions and will help you access other characters within the game, and the open world elements allow you to play through the missions however you want. Be warned, however; each mission is scored according to your actions, awarding you points for both your cop actions and your Triad actions. Mow down civilians in an attempt to take out a rival gang, and you’ll be given a large amount of Triad points. Protect them, and you’ll get more points in the Cop department.
The coolest part about this is that the points are not arbitrary; rather, they help you gain access to Sleeping Dogs’ RPG elements in upgrades and skill building. You’ll be able to spend points to build your character with abilities like new fighting moves and improved gun combat, creating a character that developers have described as being completely different from the one you started with. Customization is key in an open world game, and Sleeping Dogs is rife with it.
2) Driving Never Felt So Good
Much of the gameplay of Sleeping Dogs will take place driving or riding in vehicles. In the past, it’s been a complaint of some gamers that open world games don’t necessarily have the best car mechanics and controls within gameplay. With Sleeping Dogs, you can put your fears at ease. Many of the members of the development team at United Front have worked on the Need For Speed titles and the PS3 exclusive Mod Nation Racers. As a result of this vast pedigree, vehicles and driving in Sleeping Dogs feature tight and responsive controls that will allow players to traverse the crowded streets of Hong Kong with ease.
3) Gunplay takes a page from Max Payne’s Book
In an effort to feel like an action film, Sleeping Dogs has beefed up its gunplay. Third-person over-the-shoulder views allow for players to zoom easily on enemies, and guns have a fair amount of weight and power to them. On top of that, gunplay features frequent slow-down moments not unlike Max Payne’s Bullet Time that allows players to line up stylistic shots and kills on enemies. Slow motion is awarded in different instances, such as with headshots or parkour moves being executed successfully. It looks smooth and promises to feel even better.
4) Heavy Emphasis on Hand-to-Hand Combat
Martial arts play a large part in Sleeping Dogs, making a big departure from the clumsy hand-to-hand combat found in previous open-world games. Instead, players will be forced to use a mixture of both hand-to-hand and shooting in combat in order to take out enemies. Bullets are not unlimited, and when you run out, it’s time to take someone out and take their gun and ammunition off them.
Upgrades allow players to learn new fighting moves, and players will be able to string together multiple attacks in powerful combos, including deadly counter-attacks that, when executed correctly, allow Wei to catch enemy attacks and counter them with devastating blows.
Probably the most unique aspect of combat, however, is its interaction with the surrounding environment. You can use whatever is nearby to fight, whether it’s smashing your enemies into urinals or setting them on fire. The integration of environmental attacks are dangerous and interesting, adding a whole new sense of realism and immersion to the game itself.
5) The Environment is Alive and Well-Realized
Throughout production of the game, developers made numerous trips to Hong Kong and took thousands of pictures in an attempt to re-create the most realistic and lifelike imagining of Hong Kong possible. Building architecture is similar, layout of the world is expansive and open, and the people mingling around the city are interesting and complicated. Some even speak Cantonese as they pass by you.
Developers have taken the time to add in other elements outside of violence and crime drama as well. Within the world, there are over 100 side tasks and activities that players can take part in, be it karaoke or going on dates. It all fits seamlessly together to build a living, breathing space that absorbs you in a sense of realism much needed to make a successful open-world game.
While the final verdicts on the game aren’t out yet, it is looking more and more promising as we learn new bits about the game every day. Being the start of a very action-packed fall gaming season, look forward to some gritty, violent crime drama from Sleeping Dogs on August 14.