Gaming Thoughts: Sleeping Dogs

I’ve been playing Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs title lately, and have just recently finished the main storyline (and more than half the bonus side-missions as well, I think), and I’m going to focus this Gaming Thoughts post about my experiences and thoughts about the game. In Sleeping Dogs, you play as Wei Shen, an undercover police officer infiltrated on the Sun On Yee, one of Hong Kong’s most dangerous triads. Your mission is to destroy the triad from the inside, and you also have a personal stake on the criminal organization’s demise, as is revealed throughout the game. Sleeping Dogs is an open-world Action/Adventure title with interesting combat, an engaging storyline, and likeable characters, all wrapped together in gorgeous graphics. The game does have its flaws, obviously, like most female characters being depicted shallowly, or a few bad dialogue choices, but overall the game is a pleasant experience, and while I have no idea if it is strictly correct or not, its depiction of Hong Kong’s culture is interesting, at least from an Occidental point of view.

The combat system follows the lead of other Action/Adventure titles like Assassin’s Creed or Batman: Arkham City, pitting the main character in fast encounters with many enemies at once. The combo, counter and grappling systems are interesting and diverse while remaining simple enough to not be frustrating, and the ability to use your environment to defeat your foes (like grappling your enemy and crashing him into a garbage bin, or hitting their heads against the wall, etc) adds a nice touch to it all – after the first few combats, I found myself always looking out for environmental attacks I could use, even if just to see the cool cutscenes that came out of them. Combat using guns, which only happens more or less halfway through the main story-line (and never quite becomes the focus, though melee weapons are also available and in larger quantities) is done well enough to be enjoyable, keeping in mind that the game is not supposed to be a shooter in the first place.

There are several minor aspects of the game that are not the main focus, but together add to its depth and fun-factor, like the racing mini-games, the diversity of vehicles to choose from, interesting side-quests (though the romantic side-quests are more lacking than not, but… preciously few games get romance right anyway), several NPCs to interact with, and the ability to buy your own clothes and dress yourself almost in any style you wish, among other things that alone don’t amount to much, but together with an already strong base make the game that much more interesting.

One thing that disappointed me was the lack of choice; while Sleeping Dogs is a great game as it is, the addition of choosing your own path would make the game a great hit. Wei, the protagonist, is constantly assaulted by the conflict between his duty to the Police and his increasingly loyalty to his comrades in the Sun On Yee, and there are certain events in the storyline that just scream for player input in deciding whether Wei takes the Police’s or the Triad’s side. Unfortunately, we can just sit down and watch as the events unfold in the developer’s planned storyline, but not every game can be expansive enough to support multiple choices and multiple ends, so it’s not really a flaw of the game but merely my wishful thinking.

All in all, Sleeping Dogs is a great action game which took me roughly 18 hours to complete, but keeping in mind that I like to take my time, explore my surroundings, and test out the waters, so a more dedicated gamer could probably finish the game in half that time without missing out on much content. I heartily recommend Sleeping Dogs to any gamer looking for a new Action/Adventure game to play.

-JNicolini