Growing up in Johannesburg’s own little China Town, Cyrildene, playing through Sleeping Dogs brought back some fine memories of walking through the markets listening to the Chinese people shout across the way to each other, tripping over barrels of fish on ice, and everyone having the “best” price for me. Although Sleeping Dogs is an open world game set in a contemporary Hong Kong, the sights and sounds made me feel right at home.
Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition is said to be the best version of the 2012 action martial arts, open world brawler. Sure the game has received its 1080p 60fps treatment, but that’s about it. There has been next to zero visual enhancements otherwise and this is definitely the game’s downfall, given that most remastered titles in 2014 have impressed in these areas.
Playing as Wei Shen, a Chinese police officer who goes undercover to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization and ultimately clear out the corruption that plagues the streets of Hong Kong. This might sound like the run of the mill crime game, but it has clearly been defined and built on hundreds of games that have come before this. Wei is conflicted with losing himself to the other side at times, you start to believe that he might go rogue, this is a strong building block for the main protagonist.
Sleeping Dogs might be an open world title, but its combat is a mash up between Yakuza and the Arkham series. It really does feel like they all got drunk, had an orgy and gave birth to Sleeping Dogs. There are no flashy guns, tools, and weapons. It’s just you, your fists, and a vending machine, as you use your environment as a weapons to toss enemies into vents, doors, tables, and speakers. You will often find yourself smashing someone over the head with a handbag, for some reason there are dozens laying around on the floor. Chaining together punches to charge up an ass kick to see an enemy go flying is rewarding. Blocking and adding in a counter attack is something new in an open world game, the combat in sleeping dogs is one of a kind, and it is pretty clear.
You gain XP while playing the game, preforming better in combat and not damaging the city’s assets will get you on the road to leveling up faster. You then gain skill points you can use over different categories. Cop skills, melee, and triad, these are just a few of them available to level up, each benefiting in their own way.
United Front Games’ version of Hong Kong is pretty lively with people and the vibe that you are walking through a never resting version of China. There are countless distractions to keep you busy between main missions like street racing, gangs to infiltrate, and pickups that help progress your character faster. As for the missions, let’s just say that they are the star of the show, enriched deep in the Chinese tradition, the game never ceases to amaze when it comes to well executed dialogue and lore. When you have completed the game you will be educated in the Chinese idealism, respect is key and betrayal is death.
Sleeping Dogs Definitive edition is the prettier version of the game, although not shining as bright as others that have come this year, it is great to play through. If you have never played the game then just get it. If you feel like exploring the game, and all its DLC again, go for it. As someone who never played the original, this was fantastic.
Lasting Appeal: 8/10
From age 12 Marco has spent every waking moment playing games, or thinking about playing games. Marco also suffers with gaming FOMO, and so now he is a gaming journalist as an excuse to play everything. He writes for a number of local and international publications.