I have beaten the main storyline of Sleeping Dogs and have had time to think on it. I can’t really recommend most of it. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s one heck of a guilty pleasure and if you absolutely positively have to have *SOMETHING* to tide you over until Grand Theft Auto V comes out, this game will superficially scratch your itch.
It’s just that, apart from one thing that I’ll get into in a moment, you’re playing a game that is arguing two things at once. With the one side of its face, it’s telling you about the importance of being a Police Officer in order to Clean Up Crime. With the other side of its face, it’s telling you about the importance of going undercover and killing people extrajudiciously in order to make sure that the really really bad crime bosses are eliminated in order for the merely really bad crime bosses to run things. As such, you don’t have the general feeling that you’re bringing people to justice as you work them over with environment attacks such as swordfish heads, tablesaws, and ice chippers and you also don’t really have the sheer nihilistic feeling of absolute liberty that games like the GTAs (and, to a lesser extent, the Saints Rows) have been able to deliver.
You’re stuck with an undercover police officer game where your police work suffers from multiple fatal flaws and your crime suffers from similar.
There is, however, one thing.
There is a side mission involving stolen Jade Statues. These statues are statues of the beasts from the Chinese Zodiac and they belonged, once, to your former Martial Arts teacher. The side mission involves, if you couldn’t guess, collecting each of these statues back from where they ended up. The offical reward for bringing back one of these statues is further training in the martial arts… but the reward that made me look forward to each and every statue was the little speech your teacher gives. He talks about students who think about joining the gangs in town and what he does to teach them and what he hopes for them. He talks about fate. He talks about history. He talks about justice. In each little speech, he explains a tiny, tiny piece of the universe.
If I were to compare it to anything, I’d almost compare it to the movie “Taken”. You think you’re watching a pretty pedestrian revenge flick until that one scene (you know the scene I’m talking about) where your eyes widen and you realize that you’re not watching the movie you thought you were?
These little speeches are that good. Sadly, the game surrounding them does too much to undercut itself.
But, as I said, if you’re counting the minutes to GTA5? You could do a lot worse.
My mini-review from G+:
Sleeping Dogs can be summed up like this.
Take the vehicle combat from Wheelman. Water it down.
Take the melee combat from Batman: Arkham Asylum/City. Water it down.
Take the story from any movie involving a cop on the edge who goes undercover. Add a couple shots of John Woo and water it down.
Take the open world environment from Yakuza. Transplant to Hong Kong and water it down.
Take the morality system from Infamous. Water it down to the point that it means almost nothing.
Take the story/optional mission structure from Saint’s Row. Remove any actual impact on the story.
Take the widget hunt from GTA. Add animations and leave as is.
Add girlfriend missions and subplot.
It is a technically competant game but it does nothing that hasn’t been seen before. If you’ve never played any of the above games, it might seem great/original. If you have, you might get the nagging feeling that you’ve seen this before and done better.
Average open-world game.
The martial arts teacher stuff was really good, though.
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