Sleeping Dogs was a surprise hit for many back in 2012. The open world crime game was a crowded genre yet Sleeping Dogs managed to fill it with an engaging story and entertaining Batman-inspired combat. Two years later and the game has be re-released on the current generation of consoles. While the game does not come as a surprise anymore, it still manages to be an enjoyable experience that should definitely be played if you missed it the first time around.
One of the stand out elements here is the story. The game follows undercover detective Wei Shen who becomes implanted within the Hong Kong Sun On Yee Triad. The aim is to infiltrate the Triad and bring them down from within, gaining evidence on them and other gangs within the city. Wei has to balance his trust within the Sun On Yee and with his police counterparts. This dynamic creates plenty of fascinating moments and the plot takes numerous unexpected turns as the Sun On Yee come under attack from rival gangs. In addition to the story, there are a lot of side missions in the game. You can do high speed races, help civilians you find on the streets or do police jobs around the city. While these side missions aren’t filled with the depth and attention that the story missions have, the sheer number of them means that you will not struggle to find something to do.
However, the story is not the only thing done well in Sleeping Dogs. United Front Games’ representation of a bustling Hong Kong is superb. The streets are busy and bustling and the market areas feel vibrant and alive. The driving is also fun, allowing you to drive almost everything from mopeds to the fastest sports cars around the hectic city streets.
If you have played the Batman Arkham games then you will be familiar with the combat. This system is made deeper by the extensive combo system that can be upgraded using points gained from the missions and finding collectibles around the city. The combat can become deep if you want it to be, but a basic attack combo and counters can get you through the game no problem if that is your preferred style.
The game also introduces gun combat as it progresses, as well as a cover system. The gunplay feels satisfying, especially as it activates a slow motion ‘focus’ mode when you vault over cover, allowing for you to clear a whole room in one swift jump. Unfortunately, the cover system is at times clunky. On a few occasions I died trying to get into cover where the game would not let me, which was a frustrating but overall rare experience.
As this is the Definitive Edition, this version of the game does come with some improvements. On the Xbox One version, the draw distance has been improved as well as the textures. The Definitive Edition compares more closely to the PC version of the game, however, the frame rate would occasionally suffer when the action got especially frantic, mostly during the numerous car chases. The game still looks good by today’s standards. However, this is definitely not what you would expect if a brand new game were to be released today.
The Definitive Edition comes packed with the DLC from the original game. This includes the supernatural Nightmare in North Point and the Year of the Snake story missions. Each piece of DLC will last you around two hours each, which was a bit short to purchase separately originally so it is nice that it comes with the game now. While they are short, they do provide a nice reason to revisit the game once you are done with the main campaign, especially with Nightmare in North Point which adds some interesting new enemies.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is only a slight improvement over the original release back in 2012. The increase in draw distance and textures makes the game look better but it doesn’t justify someone purchasing the game for a second time.
The inclusion of the DLC is a good incentive for second time buyers. However, with four hours of content I’m not entirely sure that it would be worth it. The experience has lost some of its charm since this game surprised me back in 2012, however, it is still a fantastic open world experience, with an interesting story and fun, deep combat.
If you missed Sleeping Dogs originally, now is the perfect time to experience it for the first time. If you played it two years ago, I’d recommend crossing your fingers and hoping for Sleeping Dogs 2.
This review is based off the Xbox One version of Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition provided by Square-Enix.