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 fiancĂ©e 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.

Pros:

  • Engaging story
  • Endearing characters
  • A bounty of varied content
  • Deep melee combat system
  • Rich setting

Cons:

  • Story’s end could have been stronger
  • PC controls can sometimes feel clumsy
  • Higher-resolution graphics could have been added

Final score: 90/100

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10 Comments on Sleeping Dogs Review

SweetPea

On August 14, 2012 at 8:19 am

90/100 is way too high for this game.

CJ Miozzi

On August 14, 2012 at 9:08 am

@SweetPea:

Normally, you play a game before arguing with its review score. Just a suggestion to give you more credibility for next time.

max

On August 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

i just got the game, i can fun battlefield 3 maxed out with no lag, and i can t run this game maxed out, so high resolution graphics must not be that bad, im gonna buy a new video card in the next week so i can enjoy this game to the fullest, im not playing it until then, but the graphics must be fine from what i saw from the 1st video. im getting a xbox controller aswell because i realized in the menu that it would be better that way, some games have High Requiments to enjoy them at the fullest, thats how life is.

SweetPea

On August 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

@CJ Miozzi

Yeah, and you haven’t played GTA IV to know how incredibly unfair it is to rate Sleeping Dogs a 90/100.

It’s basically an average game. The combat system isn’t all that good, it gets repetitive and the enemies of course attack one by one. The enviromental kills are a great addition, though.
Also, I wouldn’t call the story engaging, it was very predictable and as you said the ending could’ve been better. Graphics is fine, but nothing special.
I think it takes more than that to reach a 9/10. Feel free to disagree.

James

On August 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Well taste is subjective.

I couldn’t play GTA IV after the first few missions. It is just boring as hell and the cars (I played PC Version) handles way too badly. It seems they somehow made tires having zero traction.

The GTA I liked the best is still Vice City.

Sleeping Dog right off the bat is better than GTA IV already. Though I only finished downloading it on Steam and finished the first 3 missions before going to bed. Too early to see if 9/10 is an good score but so far I already like it better than Vice City.

David

On August 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

This plot has already been made into any number of Hollywood movies, of which my fave was Donnie Brasco.

Mr Glassback

On August 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

I have to agree with Sweetpea here, I can’t see how this got 90/100.
It’s not a bad game by any means, but if you are going to copy a game that came out 4 years ago, then at least improve it by a decent margin. Sleeping Dogs is so similar to GTA4 that it could almost be an expansion pack. (it even copies GTA4′s flaws??)
I did play it and enjoy it but don’t buy this unless you liked GTA4 and want more of the same but with minimal guns and a basic combat system.
Hopefully they will copy Rockstars DLC practices too and create some decent expansion packs.

NekoMode

On August 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Anyone who is calling the hand-to-hand combat system ‘basic’ hasn’t played it enough. Part of the RPG-like unlock system is unlocking new skills combos and moves. What you begin with is not 1/3rd of the full moves list. Likewise while guns are not common till the end-game its the lack of guns that makes the gunplay and the gun scenes that much more powerful.

David

On August 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Great game !

Super

On August 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I just finished the game and I really enjoyed the story. It made me care about the characters, which is something other open world games have yet to accomplish. Adding to the fact that Wei is generally a nice person makes his situation even more compelling.

As for the gameplay, Nekomode is correct is saying that the melee combat has a lot more depth. By mixing different moves together, the game rewards the player with more mission points which can then be used to get more upgrades. And the missions themselves are very well put together and no two missions feel the same, which is yet again something that all open world games tend to lack.

The only gripe I have with the game pertains the lackluster implementation of “favors.” That is the only aspect of the game which gets repetitive. So, a 90/100 sounds good to me.