Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition / 13th of November 2014
I grew up on Asian cult cinema, films like Oldboy, Akira, Infernal Affairs and many others led me down the route to martial arts legends such as Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan. So with such a love for all things Asian it should come as no surprise that United Front Games and Square Enix made one of my favourite games of 2012, Sleeping Dogs. Naturally when I learned they were re-releasing this open-world, action-adventure game on next generation consoles I was excited. In it players take on the role of Hong Kong police officer Wei Shen, who goes undercover to expose the criminal Sun On Yee Triad organization. The more invested Wei gets in the triad, the deeper he goes and the more blurred his allegiances become. You must work your way to the top of Sun On Yee arresting those you can and killing those you can’t, fighting through an authentic Hong Kong in pursuit of revenge, honour, loyalty and the law.
It’s obvious that the developers took a lot of inspiration from Asian cinema and incorporated them into Sleeping Dogs; missions, cars, weapons, cutscenes, fighting styles and the overall look and feel just oozes with a classic oriental feel, similar to legendary films I’ve come to know. The combat in Sleeping Dog was always a high point and it never gets boring, it’s constantly evolving with weapons, unlockable skills and new enemies to face in each encounter. Wading into a sea of enemies and coming out unscathed really makes you feel like a martial arts badass such as Donnie Yen or Wu Jing. Being able to fight and shoot like a legend really adds to the character of Wei Shen, and the fast paced feel of the game, means that at one moment you could be brawling with five guys, before using your parkour skills to escape, and jump into a car only to dive whilst firing a machine gun at a pursuer’s tires and ramming enemies off their bikes.
Apart from the superb main story, Sleeping Dogs is full of many distractions; you can gamble on cock fights in gambling dens, or help Hong Kong citizens and Triad brothers with their troubles. Or you can adhere to your duties as a police inspector in a more traditional role by helping in shootouts, hostage situations, police chases and drug busts. And if, any point you get bored with that why not enter the world of underground fighting, or take to the streets in illegal street racing. The game is full of collectibles to find, cars to buy, and enough clothes to fill your wardrobes with that it would make a Kardashian jealous. You may also find yourself signing karaoke, dancing, shopping at market stalls, buying furniture for your many apartments or taking girlfriends on dates. And who wouldn’t want to take Emma Stone on a date, one of Wei’s girlfriends and the many well-known names who have added their voice talents to the game; Will Yun Lee, Tom Wilkinson, Kelly Hu, Lucy Liu, Yunjin Kim, Celina Jade and many other talented voice actors’ help make up the excellent cast.
But this is so 2012, is there anything new within Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition? Well the graphics for one have had a huge overhaul, along with volumetric fog, new character models, better lighting, improved weather, improved reflections, greater environmental density, more traffic, better textures and more objects on screen adding to the busy feel of Hong Kong to name a few. The new environmental effects in particular have really added something to the mood of the game, the rain is gorgeous and makes the roads look really vibrant, whilst fog effects are used to create a great sense of unease when entering city’s cemetery. The better looking character models aren’t as noticeable as the new natural lighting, but they do add to the finished product making you feel you’ve come away with a game that isn’t too dissimilar from the latest next-gen releases. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is a game with a mature narrative, fresh environments, and great action mechanics capable of holding its own against the likes of Grand Theft Auto V or Saints Row IV.
Aside from the graphical improvements this game has more bang for your buck than a serving of special fried rice. All twenty four pieces of DLC have been included with the Definitive Edition. These range from costume and weapon packs to side missions, such as more ‘Cop Events’ and a unique fighting tournament called Zodiac Island (which takes its inspiration from Enter The Dragon), as well as to two standalone spin off campaigns, Nightmare in North Point and Year of The Snake. Nightmare in North Point takes on the guise of a classic Asian supernatural horror that see’s Wei’s girlfriend kidnapped by Smiley Cat, a gangster from hell, bent on taking over the city with demons and vampires. At your disposal you’ll have new abilities, weapons and moves to counter the invasion of the undead and rescue your girlfriend. Year of the Snake takes place after the end of the main story and has Wei walking a beat on the Hong Kong streets as the people prepare for New Year celebrations. Wei must work his way back up the police ladder and prove himself as a law enforcer in an all new campaign that focuses on taking down the criminal elite.
If you haven’t played this sleeper hit then it’s about time to pick it up and give it a good play through. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition has a long and enticing main story with many side missions and distractions on offer. Couple this with all the DLC on disc and you have a very full and fun game that will keep you hooked for days. Yes there are still some glitches and errors that need ironed out but nothing that’s not to be expected for any large open world game.