Sleeping Dogs drive on the left

I got the game Sleeping Dogs (xbox version of course) back last month as a birthday present. I did not get much time to play it as we headed off on holiday, but once I got absorbed into it again. It is a free roaming, story driven virtual Honk Kong. It is of course in the style of Grand Theft Auto IV, as that really defined the genre. You take your character from place to place in various vehicles that you buy or steal. You choose to follow main mission quests to advance the storyline and/or take on side missions, races, favours and challenges.
Sleeping Dogs differs in several ways and advances the genre very nicely. The main advance is the quality of the hand to hand combat. Being set in Hong Kong it has a martial arts flavour to it. When you engage in combat it is more like a virtua fighter/tekken style to the combat with lots of techniques and counters to play with. You don’t know all your moves at the start, you have to learn and earn them. This keeps the fighting fresh as you level up and get new moves to try. The fighting is almost always you versus multiple opponents too which keeps you on your toes. Having practiced a martial art (Choi Kwang Do) for the past 8 months I now look at game fighting with a different eye. Choi is defensive and not used aggressively but this is game space and it is good to see some of the differing styles. The fights do go on a bit though as its all about health bars. Later on there are guns and shooting too to add to the variety. As this has RPG elements you do of course end up not winning every fight, you have to level up through other activities.
Tough day in honk kong
A filtered instagram shot of the screen 🙂 it shows the style and the sort of mess you get into.
The levelling up also comes in various strands. The story is split into police work and triad work. You are an undercover cop with split loyalties. Each of the major story arc points provides extra skills in a level tree. Each only has 2 branches but provides enough thought and variety that you get to contemplate how to spend that 1 level point you have just earned, without being swamped. in the end though you should end up with them all.
Another levelling up, which occurs across all the missions is your reputation or Face. This gradually builds up the more you work the more you get. Each level then provides a perk.
In case the missions, driving around, fighting and collecting special locked boxes is not enough you also get to alter your clothing. It may seem odd in a hard nosed martial arts cop-crook-athon bloodfest that clothes become relevant but it does provide a little extra side challenge. Certain clothing combinations and items add 5-15% to the levelling up scores depending on what you wear.
The game is rated 18 and I would hope that most parents realise that this really is 18. The storyline is quite hard hitting at times, the language is always full of swearing. The fighting is pretty gory, you are usually left covered in blood which remains until you change your clothes. That is more cartoony. However, having completed the main story now it got pretty serious at the end. There are a lot of game engine driven cut scenes, some great acting and voice, but the last ones made me wince. This is great as it had not just become a collect -’em up grind. It fitted with the plot (which I am not going to spoil) but it definitely was not one for the kids.
The other really nice thing, as per the title of this post is that it is set in Hong Kong, where, just as in the UK they drive on the left. So many games are US based and in NY or SF and there we are on the wrong side of the road 🙂
There is some DLC planned with new missions. This will be great though having played through the story I wonder how they are going to make this integrated and not just some missions you missed that you go back and play.
A cracking game though.

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