'Sleeping Dogs' Has Plenty of Bite on Xbox 360 and PS3
Choose your own gritty adventure in "Sleeping Dogs."
CREDIT: Square Enix
In the spirit of the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise, the especially violent games that let you run around and do anything, Square Enix’s latest effort, “Sleeping Dogs,” gives you free rein in the gorgeous but dangerous streets of Hong Kong.
In the game, you portray Wei Shen, an undercover police officer sent to infiltrate a criminal game of "Triads" that is stirring up trouble in the midst of a territory war between two brothers. What you choose to do is entirely up to you — you can complete brutal missions for your newfound criminal boss, help out citizens in their time of need, or follow secondary objectives, such as taking part in street races or even romancing a visiting American woman.
"Sleeping Dogs" follows the same "sandbox" set-up as the "Grand Theft Auto" games, as you can pretty much do what you want around Hong Kong. You can even unlock new attack moves by locating hidden statues and returning them to your former trainer down at the local dojo.
But it's the individual parts of the gameplay that make "Sleeping Dogs" work so well. The driving sequences are a lot of fun, with dozens of trucks, cars and motorcycles to choose from. The free-flowing combat is great as well, letting you beat up enemies with combos, or throw them into highlighted objects such as an open Dumpster or an electrical conduit.
Only the third-person shooting comes up short, as you’re limited to taking on enemies through gunplay, rather than running up and kicking them around like a soccer ball. The missions offer a lot of variety as well, ranging from busting someone on surveillance to protecting potential targets.
"Sleeping Dogs" also provides a fairly good virtual representation of Hong Kong. The character models are authentic and, in some cases, convincingly hostile. The streets glow with traffic and life, even though cars occasionally pop out of sync, thanks to minor glitches here and there.
Likewise, the music is authentic, mirroring what you might hear on Hong Kong radio stations, including advertisements and the guitar-heavy rock. The voice acting is also excellent, featuring such high-profile actors as Tom Wilkinson and Emma Stone (fresh from “The Amazing Spider-Man”).
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Though it's not the breakthrough that "Grand Theft Auto" was, [OK?] "Sleeping Dogs" is a notable action experience. Feel free to take it around the block.
RATING: 3 / 4