As the saying goes ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, but letting them lie is something Square Enix refused to do when they bought up the rights to a cancelled project scheduled to revamp and reboot the True Crime series.
Having only purchasing the publishing rights, Square Enix had to change the games title from its originally planned title True Crime: Hong Kong and so Sleeping Dogs was born. After polishing up the game and adding bits and bobs here and there, Square Enix created quite a strong competitor for game of the year. Quite a bold statement considering Square Enix’ usual main strengths are role playing games, more predominantly, the Final Fantasy series. It made perfect sense to give this fantastic title the next gen facelift but it the Definitive Edition worthy of your time and money?
Sleeping Dogs is an open world action adventure game set in Hong Kong where players play as Detective Wei Shen as he takes up an assignment to go undercover to infiltrate Hong Kong’s most infamous and dangerous gangs, the Triads. The story is very complex and it is one of the best stories I’ve experienced in recent years, with its many plot twists and back stabbing angles, its grabs you from start to finish. You find out that Wei Shens sister was murdered at the hands of an enemy triad gang so there is a hint of revenge. There are a huge cast of characters with an impressive quality of voice acting to give these characters personality. Wei is excellently portrayed as a highly trained police officer who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and also has a Jackie Chan feel to him with his martial arts skills and similar looks.
Graphically, Sleeping Dogs was sublime in its last gen form but looks even better in its next gen suit; every character looks amazing with incredible attention to detail, the goodies look fab and the baddies look menacing. You can see sweat or blood drip from every character model and its evident straight off the bat that Square Enix pulled out all the stops to make this game a masterpiece and it succeeds with flying colours. Hong Kong is a diverse setting and is very alive with hustle bustle everywhere which is separated into 4 districts both poor areas and more wealthy areas and every building is superbly detailed externally and internally. The Definitive Edition enhances the experience with a farther draw distance and sharper textures and it looks magnificent although it comes at a price with more graphical glitches which range from minor to downright bizarre. It’s hard to carry on with the game without admiring every grade A quality detail which keeps up flawlessly as the player moves throughout the city and this also applies to the games 67 vehicles. Every car, motorcycle and boat look fantastic and the damage looks very realistic.
Now the gameplay is where Sleeping Dogs shines brightest. Although it borrows from other games, every gameplay aspect of this game have been fine combed and polished and play perfectly. This game is dominated by driving sequences and hand to hand combat with a bit of platforming and gun play thrown in and the sublime execution of each of these elements make this game seriously addictive. So addictive that I was disappointed when the main story finished, however the game world is littered with hundreds of collectables for the player to look for with rewards for getting them all. The driving mechanic is a simple arcade style of gameplay where cars don’t drive realistically as the camera stays pointing wherever the vehicle this makes the driving more enjoyable and easy to keep your foot (or finger) down and is assisted by the ability to make the car shunt left, right or forwards to help take out pursuers. It just works! The combat focuses on hand to hand in an Arkham City style free flowing system and Wei Shen has a unique move set to help take out enemies in style. Enemies are separated by 3 different classes, light quick fighters, bigger tougher fighters and bulky wrestler types, each requiring more thinking on how to take them out. The fighting is brutal and is made more so with the help of environment kills. Grappling enemies opens up opportunities highlighted in game where you are able to use objects in the environment to instantly defeat enemies ranging from Telephone boxes, fans, tanks full of electric eels, circular saws and of course your car. The fire fights featured later in the game are rock solid and fast paced and keep you on your toes as the AI is very intelligent and will try to flank you at any opportunity. Foot chases are exhilarating due to Wei Shens parkour abilities. Wei can vault over and run up walls without interrupting the pacing and jumping over large gaps enables a Nathan Drake type breath-taking leap of faith. Later on in the game, Wei can hijack vehicles whilst on the move and the game slows down time while gunplay spills onto the highways. It’s like one huge action movie and I loved it!
The Definitive Edition includes all available DLC such as the supernatural weird and wonderful side story “Nightmare in North Point” and the Enter The Dragon homage “The Zodiac Tournament” as well as all downloadable clothing and costume packs for Wei, some of which carry some nice buffs.
Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition is one of the best open world action titles I’ve played in years made more so by the games super high standard in narration, graphics, attention to detail and its bar setting gameplay. All of this is made even better with enhanced graphics and all downloadable content at your disposal making this the most complete Sleeping Dogs experience and it is certainly worthy of your time whether you’ve already played it before or not.
Graphics – 4/5
Gameplay – 5/5
Story – 5/5
Overall – 5/5
Version Reviewed – PlayStation 4