Review: Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbox One)
If ‘skop’, ‘skiet’ and ‘donner’ Chinese movies appeals to you then you’ve come to the right place. Sleeping Dogs encompasses everything that’s right about the action genre of old, but does this Definitive Edition improve on an already stellar game?
I’ll get right to it, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition does not quite bring enough to warrant a purchase for veterans, but when it comes to newcomers you’ve got lots to be excited about. In this package you get to play the original game that released in 2012, as well as two additional download content packages that was made available shortly after release of the original. I’ll first cover it for newbies.
Players get to play on both sides of the law as an undercover cop, Wei Shen, who just recently returned to Hong Kong after being transferred from the San Francisco Police Department. His aim is to infiltrate and destroy a Triad gang called Sun Un Yee. It brings a Hollywood-like script to the table and works like a charm. Watching Wei pull his moves alongside other gang members brings the brutality of this underground to the forefront in the script. Right from the very beginning you’re tasked to choose between Triad and Cop missions. Complete either mission and you’re awarded with experience points. These points are used to upgrade your abilities. What abilities? Oh, let me tell you, Wei has some moves that would put Jackie Chan to shame.
Whenever you’re playing an open-world game the shooting is really great along with docile fighting bits, or the fighting is extravagant along with inaccurate shooting mechanics. Sleeping Dogs gets this balance right. When you’re surrounded by a gang you’ll depend on your fighting moves to get you out of trouble. By pressing the X button numerous times he’ll move right into action and kick the snot out of anyone in his way. The B button counters anything incoming (an incoming attack will see the enemy outlined in red) and the A button has you sprinting. So, for example, you can run into a crowd of Triad members, holding down the A button, and press the X button to perform a slick-looking flying kick in his face! Or, you can hold down the A button and tap the B button to tackle one of them to the ground for some fist pummelling… IN THE FACE! Unlock one of the above-mentioned upgrades and your foe will drop any weapon they have, once you land the tackle. You can of course also use any weapon to your advantage.
Knifes, irons (which you can get in the back of ANY car), rods, fish (yes, you read right) and anything that glows in blue can be picked up by pressing the RB button. Then there’s guns. You’ll get to shoot pistols, machine guns, shotguns and some other weapons of mass destruction that I’ll leave for you to discover. Should you bump into an armed enemy a simple grapple move (B button) will have Wei taking the gun off him. The grappling move is also used for interaction with the environment. See a hot furnace? You can throw the poor sod in there. What if there’s nothing but a wall? Yes, you can smash his head against it. Anything and everything can be used to your advantage and is a stupid amount of fun.
Of course much of your time will be spent in vehicles. Hong Kong is divided into four distinct sections, namely – Aberdeen, Kennedy Town, Central and Northpoint. Driving to and from these sections can take some time, so I advise you to use taxis (as you would have in GTA) to fast travel between areas. The good news is that the cars all handle exceptionally well, though the bikes leave a lot to be desired. You can buy cars and bikes, which gets added to your garage, or you can simply hijack rides, but that lowers the XP you get from your cop payouts. Wei can also perform an Action Hijack, which has you jumping out your car onto another car while at high speeds. As I said, Jackie Chan’s got nothing on this guy. You’ll also get to travel via a boat now and then, but it’s very seldom that it occurs as there are no rivers that flows through the city of Hong Kong (well, at least not in this game). When in the control of any vehicle Wei can shoot any incoming threat by pressing the LB button to aim, and shooting away with RB. Seeing cars exploding from two or three bullets feels VERY Hollywood and is satisfying.
When you’re not busy with main missions you’ll move on to side missions, which improves your ‘Face Time’. Face Time gets activated once you’ve beaten up a bunch of enemies. In this state you regain health and your foes generally become vary of attacking you as you become really strong. So improving your Face Time status is a good idea, therefore side missions are key to you completing the game. You can also change your clothes, take part in cock fights (Oh, get your dirty mind out of here!), street races, drug busts (that involve in-depth surveillance footage and code-breaking), and various other activities. Hong Kong is your playground.
So what about the extras? What makes this the Definitive Edition? Outside of the graphical improvement, which is okay but not great, it’s a little bit of a letdown. A social hub has been added to compare your times and other stats with your friends leaderboard, but it feels like a last-minute addition. Both DLC’s, Nightmare in Northpoint and Year of the Snake, took me under three hours to complete and was not satisfying in any sense of the word. The ‘Engrish’ voice acting, that worked so well in the original game, got lost somewhere in translation to the DLC. Nightmare on Northpoint sees you fighting the supernatural, which seems to be their take on a ‘zombie’ mode and is as boring as hell (pun intended) and in Year of the Snake you’re a cop in uniform and on the street disposing bomb threats. After the very exciting original game it’s anything but Definitive.
If you are new to the world of Sleeping Dogs then you can’t let this offer pass you by as it needs to be experienced by everyone, but if you’ve finished the original game it’s perhaps best you let sleeping dogs lie.