Sleeping Dogs Review
Sleeping Dogs even includes something of an RPG leveling system; you can accumulate three different types of experience points: Triad XP, Police XP, and Face XP, the first two being a measure of your status in the respective faction, with the third being your general reputation. Leveling up these different trees unlocks various buffs, combat maneuvers, clothing and vehicles, with different outfits granting small bonuses, such as 5% increased melee combat damage.
The game begins with a fairly long sequence of establishing cutscenes, but thereafter it’s mission after mission, each unique in some way. The variety keeps things fresh, with some missions taking a break from the serious thug life to let you take on some more lighthearted errands, like driving around a gangster’s fiancée on a shopping trip and a high-speed car chase with the woman who stole her wedding cake.
While the action rises throughout the game, there’s little escalation in difficulty; your final fights don’t feel much more difficult than your first, and with no difficulty modes, “hardcore” gamers may find the game too easy.
All this action takes place in a fictional Hong Kong, and although I’ve never visited China, the setting felt realistic, from the crowded markets, to the ethnic cityscape, to the historic monastery. While the game looks good from a design perspective, the aesthetics suffer slightly by not being as high-resolution as we can expect from a PC game. To its credit, Sleeping Dogs does offer advanced graphics options, including alleged high-resolution textures, but I still get the feeling that its console versions held it back from achieving its fullest graphical potential.
The PC controls are passable, if a little awkward at times — good enough to not come across as a console port, but not good enough to make me forget that the game was probably designed for the console first.
Throughout my play time, I encountered two minor bugs — nothing game-breaking; just one instance of two separate character dialogues playing overtop each other and one time in which attempting to click on a quest objective resulted in a ten second delay before activation.
You may feel my complaints about Sleeping Dogs have been little more than nitpicks — and you’d be right. I’m hard-pressed to find any serious missteps, with my only criticisms consisting of aspects of the game that could have been improved to some degree.
Did Square Enix make the right call when it decided to save this game? Absolutely. Sleeping Dogs is a worthy installment in the sandbox genre, strong enough to stand alongside the greats and bringing enough innovation to be a must-play for genre fans. You may be able to blow through its story mode in a single weekend, but the game is jam-packed with enough content to keep you busy long after the credits roll.
- Engaging story
- Endearing characters
- A bounty of varied content
- Deep melee combat system
- Rich setting
- Story’s end could have been stronger
- PC controls can sometimes feel clumsy
- Higher-resolution graphics could have been added
Final score: 90/100