Sleeping Dogs is Arkham City meets Just Cause 2 meets Max Payne meets Infernal Affairs

There are usually a few weak links in any open-world game. If the shooting is strong, the melee might suffer. If there are some cool driving mechanics, the story may not be that strong. Things just don't usually fall into place completely, and though we're often able to overlook these issues, we wish we didn't have to brush the flaws under the rug in favor of focusing on the cool stuff.

Above: Check out our video preview of Sleeping Dogs

After an hour with Sleeping Dogs (formerly True Crime: Hong Kong), we're excited to see an open game try so feverishly to avoid this stigma. It doesn't want your excuses. It doesn't need you to overlook any glaring problems. Everything we saw, from the melee to the shooting to the driving, looks well-developed, pulling from some of the best in the genre to create a truly exciting experience.

In fact, you might recognize some of these mechanics. Have you...

Ever seen a Chinese cop drama (or The Departed)?

Above: Wei goes deep undercover at the beginning of the game

Wei Shen is the newest member of Hong Kong's criminal underground. He's a trained killer, ready to slit whatever throats he needs to slit in order to get the job done. He's also an undercover cop. True Cri... erm, Sleeping Dogs drops us into his shoes as he deals with living the incredibly dangerous life of an undercover cop infiltrating one of the most notorious gangs in the world. 

The developers told us that the story is inspired by a number of films, including Infernal Affairs (which was remade as The Departed in the US), as well as other popular films in the genre. Crime films, old kung fu movies, action films – it's inspired by all of them. It doesn't go as far as movies like Kill Bill in flaunting its inspiration, but it definitely wears its love of the genres on its sleeve, with subtle (and some not so subtle) homages. At one point we noticed that Bruce Lee's signature yellow and black tracksuit from Game of Death was unlockable, which, when mixed with the game's melee, would make for an awesome fanboy experience.

Ever countered a melee attack (or played Arkham City)?

Above: Being able to change into different outfits is a nice feature

When it comes to fisticuffs in Sleeping Dogs (as it often will), the combat will be immediately recognizable to anyone who ever stepped into the cowl of Batman in the Arkham games. Tapping the attack button will unleash a barrage of strikes, but once you see an exclamation point above an enemy's head it's time to counter. Tapping the counter button will do just that, grabbing the enemy's fist or foot and punishing their body with blows. Even compared to Arkham's it was incredibly fluid, with animations that made sense depending on the attack.

Beyond beating the enemies senseless, we were also able to grapple them to either attack with a new set of moves, or execute them using the environment. Whenever we'd grab a foe we'd see orange indicators around the screen letting us know which objects we could interact with, shoving bad guys into vents, bashing their heads on hot ovens, or even pushing their faces into spinning fan blades. It was brutal, reminding us of Mad World for the Wii, or the Punisher game from last generation. 

Ever slid in slo-mo while shooting (or played Max Payne)?

Above: The game's missions look very Grand Theft Auto

Slow-motion has always been a part of the True Crime series (in fact, when True Crime was first released we remember some people saying that it ripped the mechanic off from Max Payne), and though Sleeping Dogs drops that moniker it doesn't lose the focus on cinematic, slo-mo action. The difference, however, is that there's no "focus meeter" or anything like that – slow-motion happens organically, depending on the situation.

Sliding over a box and shooting? Slow motion. Jumping towards an enemy and shooting? Slow motion! We didn't get a chance to mess around with this aspect of the game ourselves, but if it's anything like the slow-motion of the past True Crime games we're sure it will deliver. We also think we prefer this take on slow-motion, as it makes for more cinematic action than randomly tapping a button to slow things down just because.

Ever jumped onto a car going 90 (or played Just Cause 2)?

Above: Vehicular combat looks absolutely awesome

Apparently Sleeping Dogs' Wei went to the same driving school as Just Cause 2's Rico Rodriguez and The Wheelman's Milo Burik. Once he's behind the wheel he's able to not only drive with reckless abandon, but take down enemy cars with only minor effort. A bullet into the wheel of an enemy vehicle will send the car flying through the air, exploding on impact. It, too, uses slow-motion to awesome effect, making the driving and shooting look like an absolute blast.

Literally. Because of the explosions. When you shoot the cars. In slow-motion.

Just Cause 2 was brought up on several occasions during our demo, and for good reason – Wei can jump between cars, just like Rico could in Square Enix's 2010 open-world game. We didn't get to mess around with it (sadly), but we saw it in action as Wei weaved between cars on a motoycycle, eventually leaping onto the top of a car and kicking his way in. It was a treat, and using it during chases should complicate the driving segments even more.


  • gondarpwns - February 18, 2012 10:27 a.m.

  • Andreaz - February 17, 2012 12:29 p.m.

    This sounds awesome, but I want to know about the city. Is Hong Kong in this game realistic and alive? Does it have a real population and traffic comparable to GTA IV? Do NPC's have a good AI and do they react convincingly. Is there enough to do? Or is it a dead graveyard city like the one in Mafia 2? Oh, and I understood it will be released for PC too. I hope this is going to be everything I hope for. It sounds to good to be true. I am afraid to get my hopes up.
  • Shinard - February 17, 2012 11:16 a.m.

    Wow. I'd never heard of this game before this article and now I desperately want to buy it. I guess I'll wait for at least one proper review when it comes out, but this looks awesome.
  • Person5 - February 17, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    While that sounds awesome I think I'll keep my hype in check until later, like probably after the game's released and I hear some reviews, its very easy for a game like this to completely screw up
  • cracker33 - February 17, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    I am pretty excited for this game. I was sad when it was cancelled, so I am happy for the developers that got a second chance.
  • moan4stalone - February 17, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    Im glad it was picked up because it always looked good to me. I dont know why so many people were hard on this game when it was first shown. I liked both Kane and Lynch games and army of two 4oth day so I guess im biased.
  • BladedFalcon - February 17, 2012 7:34 a.m.

    It has the combat system of arkham City plus the contextual ability and gore of the punisher game? YES PLEASE This does sound pretty exciting indeed. Since I always found the true crime games pretty fun, and while never very original, they usually cribbed cool elements from other genres and applied them well. Glad to see this game follows that same tradition XD Only thing that worries me though... Is that as fun as the previous true crimes were, they were incredibly buggy and glitchy, specially the second one. That's one franchise characteristic that I do hope it's not repeated in this game XD
  • samsneeze - February 18, 2012 8:04 a.m.

    The first True Crime was at least able to be beaten. I never beat Streets of New York for the simple fact that one of the story mission's events wouldn't trigger properly. Also every time it rained in that game random license plates would appear on screen. There were tons and tons other less important little things though.
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2012 10:16 a.m.

    Oh boy, that glitch sounds incredibly shitty :/ For me it didn't happen, fortunately. Though overall, yeah, the First one was a better game. I still enjoyed the second one a lot though... Mainly because I encountered a lot of those glitches that are so absurd they are hilarious, like the wonky car and crashing physics XD
  • birdro - February 17, 2012 4:04 a.m.

    Well, this certainly sounds MUCH more exciting than another Kane and Lynch, glad it panned out this way. :P
  • taokaka - February 17, 2012 1:34 a.m.

    This looks bloody fantastic, my hype for this game is back now.
  • Hobogonigal - February 17, 2012 3:03 a.m.

    Why didn't I listen to you before. I am super excited for this game now!
  • KidKatana - February 17, 2012 3:06 a.m.

    Totally. Well, I actually was not hyped for this at all but now that Squeenix have taken over publishing duties I'm on this like a powerful moss. That melee combat looks AWESOME, and I love the setting.

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