Home Icon
sleeping-dogs-review-03

Review: Sleeping Dogs (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows PC)

By Max Everingham | 2:42 pm 28/08/2012

Sleeping Dogs is excellent, nonsensical, violent fun. An open-world third-person action game set in Hong Kong, Sleeping Dogs was originally conceived back in 2009 as ‘True Crime: Hong Kong’, the third game in a series, but was cancelled by publisher Activision.

Resuscitated by a less risk-averse Square Enix, the game was renamed, acquiring its very odd title in the process and stands with us today as a very strongly action-focused take on the ‘GTA’ style of gaming.

Centring on the antics of a Chinese-American cop, Wei Shen, who returns to the island after a long stint in the US, Sleeping Dogs drops your character in a lively, busy facsimile of a city in order to penetrate a Triad operation.

As a ‘Grand Theft Auto in Hong Kong’, it’s actually a lot more sympathetic a game than Rockstar’s epics. Although the characters lack depth, what you do see of them is more realistic and capable of eliciting empathy than most of the highly unsavoury characters you meet in the GTA universe.

That said, Sleeping Dogs is also quite breathtakingly savage, to the point that you may feel like looking away during certain scenes. While quite an achievement in itself, the lurid, grotesque portrayals of combat and conflict frequently cross the line into appalling violence.

The character acting is wooden, including for Wei Shen in the main role, although the voice work goes a long way to compensate, being strong all round. But with the single exception of Jacky, either your don’t get enough time with your new best mates before they get ‘retired’ or the characters simply aren’t sufficiently fleshed out for the player to start to form any kind of allegiance, or sympathy.

This type of game generally mixes up gameplay styles with combat, driving and adventuring, and scattering items around the gaming environment to keep things interesting.

As such, there are plenty of things to collect, including Jade statues which, when you return them to your old master’s dojo, provide you with an opportunity to ‘teach’ your character new fighting moves. These new moves come in really handy in regular game play, so it’s well worth taking the extra time to find them and return them to their rightful owner.

Doing so also pads out the game’s length. While your actual play time will vary depending on how rigidly, or not, you stick to the quests in the main campaign, we got to the end credits screen of Sleeping Dogs after a little over 13 hours of play, having completed all the cases, all the jade statue ‘side’ missions and a fair number of other side missions to boot.

Unfortunately, having completed Sleeping Dogs, there’s no great incentive to revisit it. The only member of our household who went back to the game after the main missions were done, just to tool around in the Sleeping Dogs universe, was our 8 year-old daughter, who just liked to walk Wei Shen around, test drive a few cars and then, very neatly and very precisely, park them in a designated parking spot, taking care not to park over the white lines.

While this was entertaining to watch a few times, her patience with the non-directed ‘action’ significantly outlasted ours.

But the game is entertaining while it lasts. With the hugely-anticipated competition still playing its PR teasing game and no actual release date in sight, Sleeping Dogs fills a gap in the market at a time when quality releases are few and far between.

Gamers looking for a decent open-world game set in a credible modern-day universe won’t be disappointed and, despite the relatively short ‘main campaign’, completing the entire game should at least double the time you spend in it.

Price (RRP)

$109.95

Ratings

Overall

Performance

Design

Longevity

Latest reviews

  • Review: Sony NW-A25 Walkman

    Not everyone wants to use a phone for media playback, and so the Apple iPod still gets buyers, but what if you’re after high-res audio?
  • Review: Apple MacBook Air 11 inch (2015)

    One of the few Macs we haven’t reviewed in a while, it’s time to check out Apple’s baby of the bunch before what we expect will be a 2016…
  • AppMonday: Playground

    Making music can be an awesomely fun exercise, but it's not something we all have the mindset for. If you're into playful electronica, however, Playground makes it possible to…
  • Review: HTC Desire 520

    Whenever we hear the word “cheap” associated with a phone, we hit the deck, preparing ourselves for the onslaught of something awful. Can HTC’s Desire 520 shake us from…
  • Review: Toshiba Satellite Click 10

    When you can’t decide between a laptop and a tablet, the hybrid might be the answer, and if you’re on a budget, Toshiba’s Click 10 offers up something that…
  • Review: HP Spectre x2

    Not quite a Surface, but still something close, HP's Spectre x2 is one interesting machine, and worth checking out if you're keen to see a tablet with all the…
  • Review: Sol Republic Shadow wireless earphones

    There’s nothing quite like being liberated from the cables that wired earphones rely on, but often the prices of wireless earphones don’t match up to the performance. Fortunately, Sol’s…
  • Review: Acer Predator 17

    Not every PC should be treated the same, and Acer's Predator 17 looks to prove it, skipping past the slim and minimalistic design most laptops features these days, opting…
  • AppMonday: Star Trek - Timelines

    Shock horror: the latest “Star Trek” game isn’t so much a game, but rather an excuse to let Star Trek fans let go of money for a freemium title…
  • Review: Netgear Nighthawk X4S

    Modem routers need not be chunky things, and Netgear intends to prove it, letting us play with its Nighthawk X4S, a network device designed to keep the speeds up…

“How do you stop yourself from being caught out by these scam artists?”

Read More

Tell us…

Will you be installing an ad blocker on your smartphone?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

“There’s certainly no doubt that you can find a bargain, but like always, you get what you pay for.”

Read More