Sleeping Dogs, an open world action game developed by United Front Games and published by Square Enix, is the spiritual reboot of the True Crime series, an action-adventure series developed by Luxoflux and published by Activision. Quite clearly no one has allowed sleeping dogs to lie; this game has had a pretty tough development cycle. Luxoflux was closed as a studio in February 2010 and the low sales of True Crime: New York resulted in Activision to cancel Sleeping Dogs, formally known as True Crime: Hong Kong. However that has no relevance now with Square Enix picking up the publishing rights to the game, albeit minus the name rights, and here we are today.
Sleeping Dogs is set in Hong Kong. You play as Detective Wei Shen, an undercover police officer who has infiltrated a Triad organization, and your task is to bring down the Triads whilst simultaneously maintaining his cover by participating in criminal activities. Obviously this brings up the element of player choice that this game contains; do you ride the righteous path and try and stop the Triads or do you ultimately join the gang’s side? This personalization of the main character is one of the game’s key features.
Given the host of other open world action games already on the market, including the blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series which incidentally have already tackled the topic of Triad gangs in the lesser known GTA: Chinatown Wars, it would be understandable to overlook this release. However looking at the trailer and gameplay shown at E3 such a decision would appear foolish. Certainly there are similarities to GTA, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not as if there aren’t unique features either. Martial arts inspired by kung-fu movies is a key element of the combat, with the developers eager to give the player a wide range of engagement options. Running out of ammo, vaulting over a car, disarming an opponent with a kick and then mowing down a couple of other foes looks exceptionally satisfying.
And yes, there is set to be vaulting over cars, and other objects, with the game’s parkour system. Jumping over cover initiates a slo-mo sequence, allowing you to gun down several enemies in an instant. This slowdown doesn’t last long but the player may extend it by getting head-shots, an added incentive for precision aiming. However my personal favourite part of the game has to be the driving sections. Several members of the development team have previously worked on Need For Speed, and so you can expect the driving to be top notch. Hopefully these sections won’t be too linear. All-in-all though Sleeping Dogs was a pleasant surprise. It’s got the base of a very smooth and stylish open world game and with a mid-August release date we won’t have to wait long to try it out.