Tues, January 28, 2014 by Dom Sweeney
As another generation of consoles comes to an end I couldn’t help but find myself caught up in the storm of people who bought an XBOX ONE on launch day only to later realise the choice of games for the console is very minimal. Two of the few games to be released are: a footy fans favourite, FIFA and the other, most parents nightmare, CALL OF DUTY. Two games which haven’t developed much in gameplay, style or concept since dinosaurs roamed the earth. As much as I enjoy a good kick about on FIFA and shouting angrily down my microphone at young teenagers on CALL OF DUTY I could just as easily save £50 and revert back to my 360 to do essentially the same thing but with more of my friends to share the experience with. So, with that in mind, in a haze of anger I threw down my Xbox one control and switched on my old friend, the XBOX 360.
Now, as SLEEPING DOGS was available for FREE on the Xbox marketplace this weekend I thought it was about time to give it a crack. The game was originally planned to be part of the TRUE CRIME series and titled TRUE CRIME: HONG KONG, but was canceled due to delays and budgeting problems and was later picked up and re-named SLEEPING DOGS by SQUARE ENIX.
SLEEPING DOGS is a third person, open world action game. The thing that really makes SLEEPING DOGS a gripping and addictive experience is its story line. Unlike its competitors in the sandbox genre it doesn’t go over the top with the free roaming aspect of the game and it is clear to see that UNITED FRONT have put a lot of effort and thought into making an exciting story. The game takes place in the streets of Hong Kong. You play the part of an undercover cop who has been assigned the task of infiltrating and taking down a street gang known as the ‘Triad’. The open world provides you with the option to drive cars, boats, buses and ride bikes and there are still a few side quests/mini games including karaoke, racing and drug busts to do if you want a break from the main story.
In SLEEPING DOGS the leveling system is split into two main talent trees: Police and The Triad, you gain experience for each one separately by completing the assigned missions. In order to develop the look of your character there is leveling mechanic called ‘face’ which allows you to unlock new clothes and accessories by doing small tasks for people around the city.
The combat system in SLEEPING DOGS is much more thought out than what you would normally expect from a sand box style game and is primarily based on martial arts. That being said, and although the game has some cool, slow-motion finishing moves and counter attacks, it is let down by the clunky attempt at basic, fluid combos. One of the main elements of the combat system is the ‘environmental kills’ mechanic which allows you to throw your opponents into fans, off buildings and into furnaces, although this mechanic doesn’t run as smoothly as it could it still adds a very satisfying element to the combat system.
All in all SLEEPING DOGS is a good game with a gripping story and fun open world which kept me engrossed until the end, although it could be improved greatly by a less samey and clunky combat system.