Sleeping Dogs came very close to never being released. Originally conceived as a reboot for the True Crime franchise, the game was canned during development by Activision when they didn’t think it’d be good enough for release. Thankfully Square Enix had a different opinion and snapped up the nearly completed game. We should be grateful they did because Sleeping Dogs went on to become one of the standout games of this year.
The digital reproduction of Hong Kong is a sight to behold. The darker underbelly of the city is bathed in garish neon light while the more affluent areas shimmer with a polished sheen. The vibrant streets flow with the hustle and bustle of passers-by and street vendors touting their wares. While the map is smaller than most open world games, no part feels like a dead zone.
Open world games often struggle for pacing but that’s not an issue here. The two pronged plot is delivered thick and fast, keeping you on your toes through the twisting story line that follows your character infiltrating the local Triad groups.
The game mechanics also help in making Sleeping Dogs such an excellent title. The driving and shooting are both very good but special mention should go to the hand to hand combat. The superb martial art mêlée fighting takes influence from the recent Batman games as you rhythmically deliver counters and punishing blows to your opponents, and adds in wince inducing arms and leg breakers too. I’d be doing the game a disservice if I didn’t praise the environment kills too. Throwing enemies into bins, smashing them head first into fish tanks, dropping them back first onto meat hooks, even impaling them on swordfish, there’s a huge array of ways to brutally finish off your opponents.
The game was well received by the community too, receiving huge praise such as these;
“This really came out the blue for many people, does everything you want from an open world game. Nothing new, but what it did do it did really well! Paired with an awesome story, I couldn’t put it down until it was finished” – Linton
“Not a game I was expecting much from before I played it but almost as soon as I booted it up I was completely drawn in by this fantastic game. The characters, the setting and the graphics are all spot-on. Hong Kong lit up at night with all its neon during a heavy downpour is still burned deeply into my mind as a stand out moment of the deeply into my mind as a stand out moment of the year.” – Diablos
Sleeping Dogs should go on to be regarded not just as one of the best games of the year but also as one of the finest open world games ever released.