Note: Backtrack articles only include our ‘fun level’ factor while playing an old game. It is not a review, and is meant to be similar to a person-to-person conversation. These articles may contain spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Triad gangs, an undercover cop and an open world. Despite sounding basic, Sleeping Dogs is set in a city that feels alive, along with voice acting that sells the story, and combat that makes the entire experience really fun!
United Front Games was based in Canada, but Sleeping Dogs occurs in Hong Kong. To create a virtual Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs, team members from United Front Games visited the city to research its look and feel. It’s reported that United Front Games art designers took over 20,000 photos in Hong Kong, while their sound designers spent 10 days capturing dialog and ambient noises throughout the city. I haven’t been to Hong Kong, but I can say that United Front Games created a believable city that feels full of life with neon lights, streets filled with people and locations that match the environment. Nothing feels out of place in Sleeping Dogs’ portrayal of Hong Kong.
At the surface, Sleeping Dogs has a very common story. Wei Shen (Will Yun Lee) is an undercover cop trying to bust a Triad gang known as Sun On Yee, but Wei frequently blurs the line between cop and criminal. The voice actors in Sleeping Dogs such as Will Yun Lee, Edison Chen, Parry Shen, Yunjin Kim, Lucy Liu, James Hong, Lindsay Price, Emma Stone and many more turn in superb performances which propels immersion into the story. Every character in Sleeping Dogs feels authentic. Most relationships between characters are newly created, but feel like they could’ve been lifelong. Character actions, emotions and delivery of dialog work together to create a cohesive tone of family and camaraderie. This tone is the catalyst for all of Wei’s actions. Whether Wei is taking orders, seeking revenge, or doing a favor for a friend, everything feels organic and rewarding.
At the end of the day, a game is a game, and if gameplay sucks, then great graphics and a solid story can’t save the game. Fortunately, Sleeping Dogs has great gameplay which centers around its combat. Sleeping Dogs utilizes a combat system similar to Batman Arkham series, attack, block, counter, repeat. However, Sleeping Dogs introduced environmental attacks, and they’re some of the best combat moves in any game – ever. If a fight is happening by a car, an environmental attack could be an enemy gets their head bashed with a door, or thrown through a window. If a fight is in a restaurant and there is a chandelier by a balcony, an environmental attack could mean the cable holding up the chandelier is wrapped around the enemy’s neck, then they’re kicked off the balcony. Enemies can be thrown into dumpsters or through signs, hung on meat hooks, and many other outcomes. Even after fighting hundreds of generic thugs in Sleeping Dogs, varied locations with new environmental attacks means fights always feel fresh and fun.
Sleeping Dogs will suck any player into its world with an amazing voice cast, great gameplay, and a story that feels worthwhile. If you’re looking for an open world game that isn’t GTA or Saints Row, Sleeping Dogs seriously deserves your time.
Sleeping Dogs is available on Steam (Windows/macOS), Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One and PS4.