Don’t count this one out; Square Enix totally has a hit up its sleeve with Sleeping Dogs.
First off, Sleeping Dogs looks really good visually. The lighting and environmental details come together to create probably the best looking open world game I’ve ever played. That being said, some things—people in particular—look a bit off. Some of these characters, who are just the random street vendors or pedestrians, also animate slightly robotically which doesn’t help. Aside from that, it’s great and this wasn’t a finished build of the game either.
Despite the characters looking weirdo, the convincing writing and delivery sold me on the story. From what I understand you play as Wei Shen, who is an undercover cop in Hong Kong trying to take down various crime factions. The whole undercover cop angle isn’t new but I totally dig it. Especially compared to the mob/gang family GTA games usually go with. It also helps that Hong Kong is a refreshing area to be in. New York and the like were getting stale; this place has some culture and is strikingly different aesthetically.
The demo itself was pretty limited; it only featured a brief chase scene and two melee fights with a handful of thugs. The chase was pretty much what you’d expect. It had you jumping over tables and dodging pedestrians all while keeping the target in sight.
The combat is where things get interesting. There is finally an open world game that has melee combat that doesn’t make me want to stop playing (sorry GTA but that’s not a melee combat system, that’s some kind of full body tremor). The combat in Sleeping Dogs closely resembles that of the Arkham games, and if you are going to rip something off, it only makes sense to pick the best. There is an attack, counter, and grapple button to use to take foes out. While grappled, you can do several different moves, my favorite of which is an environmental kill. Simply walk a grappled enemy over to certain objects in the environment, such as an air conditioner, press a button and watch as the thug’s face is sliced off. Needless to say, it’s pretty fun.
The rest of the combat almost nails the Arkham style but the counter button press is a little less forgiving on the timing. I found that I had to press the button a few times to make sure I got the counter. Not a huge deal, just remember that you aren’t as cool as Batman in this game and you’ll be fine.
If Sleeping Dogs wasn’t already ambitions enough, it is also said to have Need for Speed Style driving but that wasn’t a part of the demo.
Since I was a True Crime fan to begin with– and that is essentially what this is– I’m very excited for it. If you like open world games that are a little less out there than Saints Row the Third, Sleeping Dogs should definitely be on your radar.
Sleeping Dogs comes out August 14th on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC and I’m already counting down the days.