Rescued from limbo by Square Enix and United Front Games, True Crime: Hong Kong received a polishing and name change to become the hit game Sleeping Dogs. Following undercover HKPD officer Wei Shen, voiced by Will Yun Lee, the player traverses the seedy underworld of Hong Kong’s Triad society. As the lines of allegiance blur, Wei Shen will use guns, driving skills, technology, and his martial arts ability to get to the top of the Triad hierarchy.
This main story is deeply engaging and highly reminiscent of many classic and well regarded films. Told through a mix of well produced cutscenes, stellar voice acting, and well designed missions, the saga of the power struggles between rival factions in Hong Kong is among one of the best told in recent memory. If the game is influenced by the high octane world of HK cinema, it is a well realized product. An open world game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs offers the player freedom to do many different things. From fight clubs, street races, karaoke, shopping, and even cock fighting, there is plenty to see and do to keep you occupied.
Production is very high quality, with much of the game taking on a cinematic flair. Slow motion finishes, dramatic camera angles, and proper emotional investment is the norm. The music in the game is quite good with a mix of licensed artists to go with themed stations and applied music wholly appropriate to the event being played out on the screen. My personal favorite station is “Softly” a mix of Cantopop and instrumentals. Very apropos for driving through the streets of Hong Kong. Sound design is very good with guns, engines, and the walla of the city serving the immersive experience. Some of the conversations between NPCs are hilarious and it is easy to lose time just milling around on foot.
Featuring an all star voice cast which includes: Tom Wilkinson, Kelly Hu, Parry Shen, Lindsay Price, Emma Stone, Yun Jin Kim, Lucy Liu, as well as HK actors Edison Chen and Terence Yin. Characters are well cast and it truly adds to the overall atmosphere.
Gameplay is tight, especially in fights and gun battles. Using a modified system reminiscent of Eido’s Batman Arkham games, moves are somewhat limited, but fights are quite satisfying and come frequently. Gunplay is solid, though accuracy is very high and headshots come seemingly too easily. Driving mechanics work well though there is little difference between similar cars except for appearance. Collectibles abound in the 4 boroughs and you’ll find yourself scrambling to grab everything. It is very easy to find everything however, the map makes it incredibly so, though the feeling of accomplishment you get when you find an item is high.
Overall, Sleeping Dogs is very fun and quite an engaging experience, especially for fans of HK action films. Like many sandbox games, it does many things well, though never amazingly. It is a solid gaming experience which offers a great narrative and which, despite the seemingly short completion time, should have you enjoying the game world version of Hong Kong which has been crafted.
Some films which are strongly referenced in the game include, but are not limited to:
Young and the Dangerous series
Game of Death
A Better Tomorrow series
You may enjoy this game if you enjoy: GTA series, Yakuza series, Shenmue series, and True Crime.