Sleeping Dogs lets you star in your own Hong Kong action film
(Square Enix; PS3, Windows, Xbox 360; rated mature)
This open-world action title, developed in Vancouver by United Front Games and released on August 14, is as close as you’ll come to starring in your own Hong Kong action film. From the very beginning you’ll expect Chow Yun-fat to step into the scene at any moment. Instead, it’s Will Yun Lee who stars in the game as protagonist Wei Shen, and he’s pitch perfect in the role. Vancouver’s Edison Chen is equally great as Wei’s childhood friend and sidekick; Lucy Liu and Tom Wilkinson also star.
United Front came up with a new control scheme for the martial-arts combat in Sleeping Dogs. You press one button for melee attacks; successive presses lead to chained attacks. You use one button to run, pressing that same button again to clear obstacles. The free-running aesthetic is key to the Hong Kong of the game, a city rendered in such detail that you can almost sense the humidity, complete with brightly coloured lights and sounds of various Chinese dialects—all ambient dialogue was recorded in Hong Kong with local actors—punctuating the sweaty atmosphere.
As with other sandbox games, Wei Shen can change outfits, and at times you’ll need to equip him with the appropriate dress to complete a mission. Unlike in other games, in Sleeping Dogs, all clothing ensembles affect Wei’s abilities. If players dress Wei in a tourist costume with a large-brimmed hat and floral-print shirt, for example, they’ll find they pay double for everything purchased. Outfits designed in consultation with Canadian mixed-martial artist Georges St. Pierre, on the other hand, grant Wei the GSP flying punch.
Distinct and brimming with authenticity, Sleeping Dogs provides a slow-burning, twisting story of gangster revenge and poetic justice that evokes John Woo’s noirish films and provides fans of action games with good reason to visit the mean streets of Hong Kong.