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Sleeping Dogs brings you into the undercover life of Wei Shen, an undercover cop operating in the criminal underworld in Hong Kong. The enemy is the Triad gang and you are placed in an open world where the line between cop and gang member blurs constantly.
The internet is abuzz with key words like ‘potential’, ‘sleeper hit’ and ‘underrated’ as the days countdown to the August 14th release of the game. Preview videos have fans creating increasing hype about the greatness of the game. Across the board, all aspects of the game appear to be very solid additions to the core storyline.
Canadian developers United Front Games has a decent track record despite the relatively young group of developers being drawn together from the ashes of several defunct game developers such as EA Black Box, Rockstar, Volition Inc. and Radical Entertainment. Co-developer Square Enix London Studios has also been credited with games such as Just Cause 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Gameplay footage proves that they have seemingly crafted a world of violence centered on the decisions of one man with morale issues and a sense of duty. Who he saves or kills will determine everything from the rating of missions to the amount of respect that Wei Shen garners as he walks the streets of Hong Kong.
The combat and choreography looks and feels pretty organic since UFC fighter George St. Pierre was on hand to add his own mixed martial art style to the game. Beyond the expected levels of ass whooping surely to be handed out, the developers wanted the violence to be understandable. That is to say, they wanted gamers to sympathize with the choices that Wei Shen has made in his life.
This way, every punch or kick that the player completes through Wei Shen draws gamers further into the reality of Sleeping Dogs. Additionally, the environment is also a key player in the game, allowing Wei Shen to use doors and garbage cans as handy tools of destruction.
Open world is the gameplay style for Sleeping Dogs and it should not come as a surprise given Rockstar and Radical Entertainment’s finesse with creating large city size maps. The producers of Sleeping Dogs determined that Hong Kong was the best choice for a vibrant city atmosphere that would be familiar enough to gamers but also set in a rarely experienced culture that kept things fresh and exciting.
One side of a street would be designed with stone buildings featuring Asian inspired concept art while the other side included western style British influenced buildings that are in keeping with Hong Kong’s history. One side beautiful form, the other perfect functionality meshed together.
The racing and automotive aspect of Sleeping Dogs is almost expected, once readers know that members of United Front Games also includes EA Blackbox whom worked on many of the recent Need For Speed games. The open world aspect plays right into the racing as Wei Shen drifts across lanes of authentic left side driving traffic in search of his next target. Expect to experience nice cars that provide a fast rides down short cuts of the Hong Kong side streets as you go bust some heads.
Undercover aspects of the game come into play from Hong Kong cinema influences such as the 2002-2003 “Infernal Affairs” trilogy film series. American audiences will be interested to know that this trilogy has been adapted into the Martin Scorsese film “The Departed”. This film series and its American counterpart play a key role in the gritty feeling of the game with the cops vs gang gameplay.
Additionally, from that Infernal Affairs series, original actor Edison Chen is also voice talent on the Sleeping Dogs voice cast. Notable voice actors included in the game are Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider Man), Tom Wilkinson (Mission Impossible 4), James Hong (Kung Fu Panda), Kelly Hu (X-Men 2), Will Yu Lee the voice of Wei Shen, Chin Han (Dark Knight) and Yunjin Kim (Lost TV show). Otherwise, in game voice acting is in authentic Cantonese and English, giving gamers the experience of living and breathing on this Chinese island.
Like the city of Hong Kong itself with its interwoven quality of criminals vs cops and new high rises vs old Buddhist temples; Sleeping Dogs is a meshing of many concepts and game play aspects. Hopefully this weaving of ideas has created a game that can bring Square Enix out of its funk and give United Front Games some much need gamer credibility. With anticipation building and the gamer community waiting for the arrival of this game, this summer seems to have just gotten a whole lot more exciting.
Look out for Toonari Post’s Sleeping Dogs review, coming soon.