The Ninjabot

First Impression of Sleeping Dogs for Xbox 360

Posted on September 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm by AGouff

Sleeping Dogs is the latest from United Front Games and Square Enix. I recently had a chance to spend several hours with the open-world action/adventure game, and today I’m giving the impressions I have.

In Sleeping Dogs, you play as Wei Shen, an undercover Chinese-born cop who is returning from San Francisco to his hometown of Hong Kong to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triads, as well as settle a personal vendetta with one in particular named Dog Eyes. Along the way you can pick up a love interest, and help out various locals (who will, on occasion, try to rob you).

You’ll notice that the characters are very well developed and have definite character traits and strong personalities. The voice acting is generally not overly melodramatic, and even has some big names. The most recognizable you’ll hear are my fellow upper-Midwesterner James Hong (Balls of Fury, Kung Fu Panda, Blade Runner) as David Wai-Lin “Uncle” Po, Lucy Liu (Kill Bill, Kung Fu Panda, Southland) as Vivienne Lu, and Emma Stone (Superbad, Zombieland, The Amazing Spiderman) as Amanda Cartwright, Shen’s tourist love interest.

Wei ShenThe thing you’ll notice in a hurry with Sleeping Dogs is, while not totally story driven, the story is still compelling enough to make you want to keep following it. Though the open-world and over-the-shoulder gameplay is very similar to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, the impetus here is much more RPG-like than most of those titles, as you have a Face, Cop and Triad XP meters. These all monitor how good you’re in with the average citizens, cops, and triads. Monitoring these is just as important as keeping track of your health.

Fans of Batman: Arkham City will be familiar with the freeflow battle system. You can target random targets during fights like a pit bull – randomly punching, kicking, or flinging enemies into various pieces of scenery – or you can lock on to a single target and take them out one by one. Be warned, the other enemies will not stand idly by while you throw their friend into a dumpster; they will each try to take advantage of your being distracted to try and do some damage.

As your health begins to wane, you will also notice Shen’s face become swollen and bloody, and his shirt will get spattered with drips of blood. This helps to tell you when you’re really in trouble, but also in general does help the realism some.The cover system will also allow you to move freely between cover, fire blindly from behind it, aim while covered and target a single enemy, or even single out specific body parts to target.

Free-roaming in the fictional Hong Kong will give you the opportunity for plenty of side-missions if you get bored with the main story lines. You can do everything from heading to a gambling den to bet on cockfights, to street races, karaoke and even joining a fight club. Successful completion of each of these side-missions will gain you various rewards, as will completing favors for various citizens.

On the whole, with the exception of some minor personal gripes about handling of vehicles (some of the developers are former EA guys who put in time doing the Need for Speed series) and the occasional quirky control, Sleeping Dogs is definitely a lot of fun; it’s a good hybrid of action and role-playing, with an excellent plot, well-done characters, and plenty of opportunities for GTA-style mayhem should you want to go that route. I definitely recommend it.

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