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Sleeping Dogs gunplay is robust, even if it is deemphasized in favor of fists (or knives, or tire-irons, or fish). The combat features a cover system and slow-motion that triggers whenever you leap over an object in the environment, allowing you to clear rooms without an issue. It’s always fast, it’s always rewarding, and it’s always fun, pulling from the best in the genre. Better yet, using melee on an enemy while holding a weapon triggers unique attacks, like Shen running up his foe’s chest and then kicking off in slow motion for an awesome action-movie attack.
And, of course, there’s driving, which is much smoother than it is in most others in the genre. Besides being able to drift around corners and shoot out enemies’ tires (causing them to flip through the air and explode, obviously), Wei can also smash into enemy vehicles to disable them, or even leap from one car to another, carjacking them while they’re speeding down the highway. It’s extremely amusing to jump from car to car, making the driving segments of the game much more enjoyable than those found in other open-world games.
When all of these elements mix together (with a dash of parkour thrown in for good measure), Sleeping Dogs rises to the top, surpassing nearly every other sandbox-style game. Every single action is so entertaining that we’d go looking for trouble just as an excuse to use our fun melee takedowns, awesome gunplay, and fantastic driving skills. Thankfully, the game provides bountiful opportunities to use these skills, both in the game’s lengthy campaign – which takes some 15 hours to complete – and the plentiful side missions – which can easily tack on another 10. Doing favors for pedestrians or busting drug-dealers kept us constantly engaged, making it difficult to ever put down the controller.
But while small problems with controls and occasional glitches won't hold you back, you might become frustrated by the fact that Sleeping Dogs never fully embraced how fun Sleeping Dogs is to play. A majority of story missions were fairly basic, and though they were inherently entertaining because of how remarkably enjoyable the components are, they were never all that interesting in their own right. With such great gameplay you'd expect equally insane missions, but while there are some standout instances, a majority of the time you'll be doing the same handful of things the same way each time.
It's more limiting than it needs to be, and too linear on a mission-to-mission basis. You'll get involved in a chase and wonder why you can't just shoot the tires out of the enemy you're persuing, or wonder why you can't tackle the guy you're chasing even though you're right behind him. Sleeping Dogs lets you do plenty of cool stuff, but not letting you do it when you want to do it is sort of a buzzkill. You're given all of these awesome tools and then forced to only use them in the order the game sees fit. It’s still fun, and it’s still great, but it's just a little too conservative with its awesome abilities when it could allow for more sandbox freedom.
When Sleeping Dogs grabs hold of you it absolutely refused to let go. You'll be amazed by the sheer amount of content, and how compelled you'll be to consume every drop of it. You'll want to unlock every costume, complete every side mission, and play until there isn't a single drop of Hong Kong left for you to see. After being renamed, delayed, canceled, sold, bought, and then renamed again all in the course of four years, Sleeping Dogs had every excuse in the world to be a letdown, but just like Wei Shen, it's empowered by its tumultuous past, and much more than it appears at a glance.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Aug 14 2012 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
|Available Platforms:||Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Published by:||Square Enix|
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Sexual Content
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