Review: Sleeping Dogs

Review: Sleeping Dogs
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Perhaps the best game that I picked up during the Steam Summer Sale was the 2012 hit Sleeping Dogs. Typically I don’t go for the Grand Theft Auto style game as it generally disagrees with my conscience, but there is something about the fact that you play as an undercover cop which assuaged my previous doubts.

The player takes on the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop who manages to become embedded with the Triads, aka the Hong Kong mafia, and has to do his best to bust the crooks. Of course it’s not easy as the temptations of power and corruption are ever present, and Wei’s morals are tested at every turn. As a main character Wei is very endearing, and we come to learn much about his motivations and history throughout the story that draws the players into the world of the moral gray for this undercover cop.

The story itself is superbly done. Told through a series of missions we get to experience the initiation into the Triads, the struggles with the decisions that are being made, and the pressure from the authorities to maintain the balance between the undercover cop, and being an officer of the law. The characters are rich and truly alive, and while they may be gangsters they do have a charm to them that draws the player into caring for them.

When it comes to the gameplay it has been a truly enjoyable experience. Featuring the parkour stylings of games like Assassin’s Creed, the fighting of Batman: Arkham City, the slow motion shooting of Max Payne, and the open world of Grand Theft auto, these come together into a nice blend. Most surprising for me was the pure fun of the various races in the game. Located around Hong Kong you’ll find various street racing side missions which throw you into an all out street race. It’s a wonderful change from the rest of the beat ’em up missions and a lot of fun to go super fast through Hong Kong.

Overall this has been one of the most fun gaming experiences I’ve had in years, and I can’t wait to sit down and play some more. It’s rare that a game grabs you in such a way and demands that you set all others aside and focus on just this one title, but that’s what Sleeping Dogs has been for me.

To balance things out there is one thing that I didn’t care for and I hope that Steam would consider changing. As part of the DLC bundle you receive a Gold and Silver booster which gives you a massive amount of experience making the early game a bit too simple. After you complete the first set of missions you will unlock the DLC and at that point I was leveled up to level 8 out of 10. Wah?! Why? The game is not overly difficult, and while reaching max level can be challenging such a massive bump seems odd. Thankfully this can be disabled if you are willing to search for how to do it and the game was much more enjoyable once I did so.

While the Steam sale may be over I would still consider picking this one up if you have the spare change. DLC was just released as last as March of 2013 so the community is still going strong, plus if you have some friends who have the game it’s fun to challenge each other and see who can wheelie the longest!

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Dan "Lugano" Pugh got his start with the IndieHangover crew back in 2009 with the launch of the RaidWarning Podcast. Since then he's contributed as a writer to numerous projects such as GuildWarsInsider.com and RaidWarning.com