- Publisher: Square-Enix
- Developer: United Front Games
- Release Date: October 4, 2014
- PlayStation 4 Retail/Digital
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is an enhanced version of 2012’s Sleeping Dogs which was released on last gen consoles. It was developed by Canadian based United Front Games who also worked on Sony’s Modnation Racers. The game started its life as Activison’s True Crime: Hong Kong but changed hands to Square-Enix after budgetary concerns. In its debut it did rake in a lot of game of the year awards, and I enjoyed my time playing it on PlayStation 3. It contained a fantastic homage to Hong Kong’s Heroic Bloodshed with a tight plot and memorable characters. The gameplay was a fresh take on the open world genre and doesn’t try to ape the top of the genre, Grand Theft Auto. It adds decent graphical enhancements, and the overall plays the same as it should. The 20+ hours of gameplay from the original game is helped a lot by including the three DLC packs which add a few more hours of enjoyment.
Firstly, the graphics did get a facelift. The texturing is more like the PC version and looks a bit clearer. The draw distance has improved for the most part as you can see the Hong Kong skyline at all times. The only downer is the dips in frame rate which can even happen when there’s a low amount of activity on screen, but overall runs at 30 frames per second. The game may not gotten the face lift of say GTAV & The Last of Us: Remastered, but it does its job.
Aesthetically, the game does capture the vibe of Hong Kong with neon lights that adorn its nightlife and the mixture of Chinese & British influence. The story is loosely based on actual experiences of Triads, but does pool from a lot of elements from Hong Kong action movies from the likes of John Woo. The audio is well done as ambient Cantonese/English speech from NPCs, and an eclectic soundtrack heighten the mood. The four districts feel unique from the slums of North Point to the hustle and bustle of the Northern district. It’s modelled after the real Hong Kong, but isn’t as big as Los Santos or your average Assassin’s Creed game, but there’s still a lot to do. The voice acting is believable and doesn’t feel forced with a great supporting including Emma Stone (The Amazing Spiderman), Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United), Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins), and Robin Shou (Mortal Kombat). What’s surprising is that the characters to change from English to Cantonese to give it an air of authenticity. It was risky, but the cast pull it off well.
You play as Wei Shen played well by Will Yun Lee, who goes undercover to infiltrate the triad known as The Sun On Yee. Throughout his genre he is torn between his loyalty to his fellow triad members and his commitment to the law. He also has a personal take as his sister died due to drug overdose and was involved with the gang. This conflict gives him a lot of depth, and his motivations with a tinge of grey. The game has a mission structure similar to Grand Theft Auto as you are off mission you can explore the city streets and engage in side-events.
The side events here don’t feel like filler and have some surprisingly good sub plots. Unlike GTA there’s an experience system which is tied on how well you perform a mission, one gauge is your police gauge which decreases if you kill civilians or recklessly destroy property. If you fill this gauge you can upgrade to skills such as breaking into to a car with a slim Jim and increase your damage with firearms. The second gauge is The Triad gauge which increases if you preform combat with efficacy. Thing such as headshots and countering an enemy’s attacks will increase the gauge. The only thing you need to worry about is filling it up. Lastly, is the Face Gauge which can be filled by doing side missions such as races, and other tasks. This unlocks perks which can boost the effectiveness of food (health items) to health regeneration. This gives the game a more organic method of character growth.
The vehicle handling is much in line with the PS2 Era Grand Theft Autos as it has arcade handling which isn’t a bad thing. The cars don’t have a tendency to fishtail unlike its physics driven counterparts. The hand to hand combat is great and is similar to the Batman: Arkham games with an attack, grapple, and counter button. The counter button is your friend as it allows you to attack the enemy once you’ve evaded your attack with a devastating combo. The player can also use environmental gimmicks such as smashing an enemy’s head into an aquarium and even tossing an enemy into a meat grinder. Every one of these actions look gruesome but feel great. It can be used strategically to one shot tougher opponents to thin them out.
My least favorite aspect of the gameplay is the gunplay which does feel a bit rigid. The limiting factor is that you are only allowed to use bullet-time when you’re sliding over an obstacle. If they mapped this to a button like Max Payne it would’ve been utilized with engagements with multiple enemies. Also, the lack of different weapons is a slight complaint. I do understand why they didn’t focus on weapon variety because of the emphasis to hand to hand. The camera also rears its ugly head as it centers itself automatically as this can cause issues navigating alleys and fighting in tight spaces. It’s not game breaking but is worth noting. Overall, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is worth checking out again if you’re a fan. If you a newcomer to the game there’s a lot to enjoy. The game may have done the bare minimum for a facelift, but that doesn’t mar the core of the game. I’d definitely recommend you to pick up and buy this game.