|System: PS3, PC, Xbox 360|
|Dev: United Front Games|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: August 14, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs|
by Shelby Reiches
Sleeping Dogs wasn't always called Sleeping Dogs. Back in the days when it was being developed under the auspices of Activision, the game was known as True Crime: Hong Kong (and before that, Black Lotus. This is a game of many faces). Dropped by its previous publisher, the game was picked up by Square Enix earlier this year and, in mid-August, should be brought to completion. If the playable demo at Square Enix's booth was any indication, though, Sleeping Dogs should probably sit in development for another six months or so before it hits shelves. It simply doesn't have the level of polish or playability one would expect of a title that's spent so long in development.
Perhaps, though, this is an inaccurate picture of the game. After all, the demo only demonstrated one element of the title's gameplay—the melee combat—which has been mostly absent in the game's trailers. It's worth noting, though, that a gaming company's desire during E3 is to give off the best possible impression of its software. They will generally specially construct a demo out of what they feel best represents a game. If this is the best element of Sleeping Dogs, the game is in trouble.
It begins with a conversation in the back of a Chinese restaurant. The main character, Wei Shen, is an undercover cop currently doing dirty work for a ne'er-do-well who has it out for another unscrupulous individual. He sends you, with your investigative prowess, to track down his target and talk to him. On sight, though, he runs away, and the game's awkward parkour elements immediately come into play.
In a free-running game, such as Assassin's Creed, most climbing and leaping is fairly automatic. Hold the run button and point your avatar in the correct direction. He'll figure it out and scale walls, vault barriers, and otherwise make life easy for you while still being interesting to watch. In Sleeping Dogs, when coming up on a scalable surface, the player has to rapidly tap the jump button. This is in addition to holding down a run button to effectively chase one's foe. Why the excess input? I have no idea, but it seems like a misguided attempt to "offer more control," or the game simply crying out to be in some way different from its competitors.
Eventually, Wei Shen catches up to his prey and corners him in a large, dead-end alley, siccing some thugs on the player. It is here that I first encounter combat. It is here that the game utterly loses me.