Back in 2010, Activision was publishing True Crime: Hong Kong and after two years of development, the project was canceled. Saved from the ashes, Square Enix swooped in to save the title renaming it Sleeping Dogs. The kung Fue martial arts open world sandbox game does many things right, but it stumbles hurts the game’s core ideas. Did Activision commit a True Crime?
Gameplay in Sleeping Dogs is inspired by Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed and Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum. United Front has taken the freefllow combat approach in both games and have made a violent recreation of martial arts. Counter attacks are often how you set up potential combos and the result is thrilling. To top things of, the game has finishing moves, which you can activate during a fight. Burning a poor soul alive, dumping a car engine and (my favorite) shoving an enemy into a refrigerator and using the door to finish him. These are all environmental, so you will find new ones the more you progress throughout the story.
Probably the most shocking aspect about Sleeping Dogs is the gunplay. It’s was nearly seven to eight hours until I was handed a gun, until then it was a modern, open-world sandbox game without guns. Even thought there is gunplay, shooting feels loose and clunky. It usually takes five to six shots to kill one enemy, while you’re in cover. You can also slow down time, but before you know it you will be returning to Shen’s deep unarmed combat.
The main story is an appetizer of big action set pieces from start to finish. You play as Wei Shen, an undercover cop who is tasked with infiltrating Hong Kong’s Triad criminal organization. Shen's story will be familiar those who have played a story revolving around an undercover cop. As Shen rises to the top of organization, he starts to become the thing he sought to dismantle. It’s a compelling storyline, but it’s also one of the biggest disappointments about the game.
During cutscenes the controller is taken out of your hands, creating a linear storyline. Unlike the sandbox, players aren’t allowed to create their own story and the experience comes of fake. It’s missing that crucial ingredient and never takes advantage of the themes presented and it’s a dam shame.