Hong Kong Action Cinema, Sandbox Style
Most gamers who have been following Square's newest title, Sleeping Dogs, know the story of how it was once going to be the next installment of the Activision True Crime series. However, after delays and budget problems, Square picked up where Activision left off and dropped the True Crime moniker from the game.
These titles that bounce around from developer to developer usually tend to feel messy, and the results usually end with a subpar product. Those were the thoughts in my head as I walked up to the Sleeping Dogs' demo at this year's E3. I love sandbox games. I love stories about East Asian crime gangs. Sleeping Dogs seemed like the start of a new Yakuza series, but this time involving Triads. Nervous as I was to see how the game panned out, all I could do was leap in and give it a shot.
To begin with, Sleeping Dogs is a bit... well, a lot, like Grand Theft Auto. That might be expected though, since it is an urban sandbox game. What makes it so much cooler is that you will take on a role of an undercover cop attempting to bring down a crime ring. Right away you are thrown into a beautifully rendered Hong Kong. The lights, the sounds, the sights… I was already getting into Sleeping Dogs just by ambience and scenery alone.
The mission I played was very basic. I was chasing after some drug dealer. I looked past the fact that this was an insanely typical and expected type of mission, but I kept on. When the physical chasing of said drug dealer took actually took place, I was worried that this game might end up all too much like L.A. Noire, where you spend so much of the game chasing people through alleyways and streets, over, and over, and over again. However, when I was led to an area where I would have to face a handful of this guy's cronies, Sleeping Dogs took on a life of its own. Suddenly, I was taken into a brawling / fighting system that felt like a nice piece of Hong Kong action cinema instead of a sloppy brawler. It was fun, it was slick, and my fancy-looking moves and takedowns were easy to execute. Above all, Sleeping Dogs fighting system kicks the butt off of the poor fisticuffs / gun mechanics of past Rockstar games.
I have to say I was thoroughly pleased once I got my hands on Sleeping Dogs. While I only got to see a sliver of the game, there is plenty of promise here for a huge, epic, open world crime thriller of a game. Square has a chance to make something that will rival Rockstar's world with something "different yet the same". They might not be out to make something as different as Saints Row the Third, but Sleeping Dogs will put something fresh into the sandbox market.
Sleeping Dogs is set to be released in August, so the wait is nearly over! We'll have the final review here for you in a few weeks.
Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
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