Here at infinite robots we’re still playing one of the summer’s chart topping successes, United Front Games’ slick open-world noir thriller Sleeping Dogs. If you’ve still managed to miss this Eastern sandbox adventure then we’ve got ten reasons to make an odyssey to Hong Kong…
#1 Combat that’s pure Hong Kong cinema
The combat of Sleeping Dogs is the trump card makes it a totally unique experience. Melee combat isn’t a few punching animations thrown in to break the monotomy of gunplay. Sleeping Dogs is the total opposite experience to Saints Row & GTA and it’s proud of it. Mixing together the fast, bone-shattering moves a la Tony Jaa with the brutal melee violence of early John Woo movies makes the combat a fluid & intuitive experience that’s fun rather than a dreaded outcome.
#2 Driving from point A to Point B has never been so fun
Sandbox games have gotten bigger & bigger since GTA 3 realised Liberty City in all its 3D glory. And while so games made driving an actual drag (*cough* The Getaway *cough*), and others rely on gimmicks like grappling hooks (*cough* Just Cause *cough*) Sleeping Dogs makes simply driving to a mission marker an awesome experience. The cars & bikes have a mostly forgiving arcade feel that makes drifting & cornering a ton of fun. Add together the ability to hijack other cars mid drive and things just got very tasty.
#3 A truly unique setting
Whilst Sleeping Dogs’ version of Hong Kong may be a fictional one it’s still a tantalising feast for the eye that sounds & feels alive. The market districts glisten with bright neon whilst the business sector bustles with suits, boutiques and soaring skyscrapers. The look & sounds of a modern Eastern epicentre feel authentic & real, which makes for an environment that’s a richer backdrop than Steelport or Liberty City.
#4 Embrace the lack of weapons
An open-world game with hardly any guns? Are you mad? Well don’t know it till you’ve tried it. Sleeping Dogs makes a brave move by reducing the number of gun fights to a minimum. There are no military hardware shops in the real Hong Kong so the Sleeping Dogs version avoids the need to litter the city with weapon stashes. Guns are a rarity and rather than making the game feel boring it brings greater emphasis on hand-to-hand combat & empowers you as a player.
#5 Racing that’s more Need for Speed than GTA
The many races littered around Hong Kong could have been tacked on as a side-thought. Instead, they’re a delicate mix of feature of all the best things about arcade racers. The one-button ramming ability makes racing more of a duel with the race leaders as you burn through the city streets. All the races take place at night with vibrant checkpoint markers that turn familiar roads into dangerous race tracks littered with oncoming traffic.
#6 A stellar voice cast
Sleeping Dogs may have a few well known Western voices on its roster, such as Tom Wilkinson & Emma Stone but its real strength lies in the sheer number of Asian actors that have contributed voice work. Everyone from Lucy Lui & Kelly Hu to Will Yun Lee & Tzi Ma bring a depth of personality that more than steps up to the greatness GTA has given us in the past. The voice-work is as good as anything coming out of Hollywood at the moment and it really sells the emotional twists of the plot.
#7 Pork Buns
“If you don’t eat a pork bun then you’re only half a man!” That’s all we need to say on that matter.
#8 The soundtrack to your criminal life
You can’t have a sandbox game with a huge map and not have some tunes to burn some serious rubber to. The mix of styles & genres is one of the most eclectic on the market and yet they all meld together in a way that perfectly suits the game world. Whether you’re cruising to the traditional Chinese tracks or flipping cop cars to Fear Factory & Trivium the track listing never gets old.
For all those collectorphiles out there Sleeping Dogs does not disappoint. Rather than simply littering the world with pointless collectables only worthy of an achievement or tropy, Sleeping Dogs utilises them as a way improving the skills and attributes of protagonist Wei Shen. From health shrines that increase your overall health to jade statues that can be traded for melee combat upgrades, these collectables add more than just some points to your Gamerscore.
#10 Mini-game mania
Sleeping Dogs is littered with mini-games, each of which breaks up the usual driving & melee combat sections in a way that’s fun and a little quirky. From cracking safes to breaking into a camera feed with a key code they’re a bit of harmless fun that fill the fictional city of Hong Kong. But all of them pale in comparison to the karaoke sessions. The track-listing might seem like a wedding DJs cast offs but the Guitar Hero esque note hitting with a cursor and the sound of lead actor Will Yun Lee crooning away shows a game that’s more than happy to laugh itself in-between bouts of blood and ultra-violence.
So have you picked up Sleeping Dogs yet? It’s a fine title that’s genuinely better than any other modern-set sandbox game of its kind, including GTA IV. Go pick it up & keep it infinite! Follow @infiniterobots for more gaming news & updates from Editors Shaun & Dom.