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Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition Review

Sleeping Dogs took a while to get here the first time around, but now developer United Front has turned its attention to the new consoles and with it, a huge graphical update and all the previously released DLC, making for a rather exciting package.

As we said in our previous review, Sleeping Dogs is about as different as you can get from the Vancouver based developers first title, Modnation Racers, but it doesn't feel worlds apart from other games in a genre similar to its own. Sleeping Dogs' Hong Kong action film type storyline has a similar approach to storytelling as Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, albeit with a lot less of the slapstick comedy which takes place in the latter. Sleeping Dogs also captures the atmosphere of Hong Kong cinema and old John Woo films really rather well, while maintaining the parts which seem to appeal to those of us in the western world.

The main story sees you assume the role of Wei Shen, a Hong Kong native who has returned from an extended stint as a cop in the States and is promptly thrust into undercover world of the Hong Kong Police department. Wei is tasked with infiltrating the Sun On Yee triad gang and helping the police bring them down from the inside. As he goes deeper into the underworld, Wei struggles with the lines defining good and evil, challenging both his honour to the mission and to the triad. Will Yun Lee in particular delivers an outstanding performance as protagonist Wei Shen, capturing the intensity and stress of an agent who is in Wei over his head (not sure whether to hang my head in shame or wait for the applause after that pun).

In Sleeping Dogs the story unfolds through scripted missions in the same way Rockstar's GTA does, leading you to all corners of the Hong Kong based map. While the some missions do attempt to try new things within the open world genre, you'll still drive, be that in a car or on a bike, from place to place most of the time, then get out and run around from mission based sections to another.

In between story segments you're free to go about the city as you please, discovering hidden statutes, pinching that car you like the look of, fighting enemy gang members, and exploring the numerous little side missions, such as cock fighting or shopping, which are there to prize you away from getting through Wei's unravelling story.

One of the most impressive things Sleeping Dogs has to offer is the hand to hand combat, it's very similar to the Batman Arkham series in implementation, one button to punch, one to counter and another to grab. The combat requires oodles more patience than the caped crusaders outings, although it does greatly exceed the basic melee systems found in other sandbox games. Button mashers need not apply here. Moves are stringed together with a careful precision as you grab a foe, crack him in the cheek and then break his leg causing others to cower in fear. Gunplay is given a backseat to the hand to hand combat which is a very welcome approach, but it's no less exciting that you'd expect. Jumping and sliding across counters to gun down foes in slow motion is suitably thrilling and never tiring, which is also apparently more realistic as guns are relatively rare in Hong Kong, with Triad gangs preferring to butcher you with cleavers over guns. Sleeping Dogs also allows for driving combat as well, with a button for shunting and ramming others at high speed. 

The whole feel and presentation is there too. You won't find hours of scripted radio dialogue and jokes that Grand Theft Auto may have, but Sleeping Dogs does have a brilliant soundtrack filled with a host of radio stations supporting 80s, rock, metal, hip hop, electronic and more, both regional and international tracks are on offer with Kasabian, Queen and Dream Theatre. 

And the graphics? Sleeping Dogs is one of the best looking open world games in the business, partially due to the excellent lighting and increased density of the city, but also thanks to the new technology that these systems offer. Shadows and dynamic lighting and cast naturally over the entire map, and the graphical effect that the rain leaves behind; showing off shiny wet surfaces, bright neon lights and lifelike reflections present the feel of a living breathing world. This update certainly brings the game more in line with the PC version we previously tested.

You might already know, the game started life as Activision's True Crime: Hong Kong before they ditched the project, deeming it simply not good enough. Soon after this happened Square Enix bought the rights and continued the game keeping the original developer United Front Games on board to complete it. Pretty harsh and damming on Activision's part and now perhaps a little embarrassing as Sleeping Dogs has turned out to be a wonderfully stylish game that can hold it's own against the other heavyweights in the industry. Here at ShopTo we're pretty pleased that Square Enix gave the team at United Front Games a chance when Activision wouldn't.

As mentioned, Square Enix has also included all the DLC from the previous versions here, so for your money you'll get Nightmare in North Point and the Year of the Snake. These aren't exactly ground breaking add-on's but still represent value if you intend on getting everything you can out of the game.

Sleeping Dogs is a great addition to the open world genre that should keep players busy for a good 25+ hours with an engrossing story, great fighting mechanics, some backstabbing and it's fair share of swearing. As it involves a lot of free running, driving and generally just exploring, people who enjoy similar games will get the most from it, however action lovers will also be able to enjoy the thrill of it. Although I didn't see any sleeping dogs within the game, it's certainly a title that will be able to hold its own in an often crowded market. For its time Sleeping Dogs truly was one of the sleeper hits of the year and now you can play it again or for the first time on your PS4 or Xbox One.

(Version Tested: PS4/PC*)

* This review has been updated to reflect changes since our original review, which was based on the PC version.


+ Updated graphics looks stunning
+ Deeply Engrossing Story
+ Great Fighting Mechanics


- Driving still feels tougher than it should be

Edited On 09 Oct, 2014

( 6 )
superniceguy's avatar
superniceguy 2 years ago
These are not racing / driving games at heart so not much attention will be made on the driving mechanics, but the driving was pretty good on the Xbox 360 version of Sleeping Dogs. I spent most of my time driving around in the game, and had less (head on) collisions than in GTA 4 or 5. Maybe its because of the dual shock controller on PS4 or a crappy controller used (ie not the Windows 360 controller) for the PC version?
superniceguy's avatar
superniceguy 2 years ago
The other thing I liked about the driving in this game, is that when you wanted to steal a moving vehicle you could jump from your vehicle and on to the other vehicle, if I remember rightly. It makes vehicle takedowns a lot easier, when I had missions like that in GTA I spend ages trying to steal a moving vehicle, going around and around the same block, and in the end just gave up.
PrometheusFan's avatar
PrometheusFan 2 years ago
Can't help but feel there's a fairly significant "con" that should have been included in this.
 TruDarkAssassin's avatar
TruDarkAssassin 2 years ago
Enjoying replaying it again today great game only problem is i am getting trophys for playing but in my trophy collection there is no record of the game or trophys earned not sure if its just me or a reported problem
Turniplord's avatar
Turniplord 2 years ago
@dark - the trophies aren't on yet i dont think - not officially out until today - did this with Warriors Orochi 3 (altho they took over a week to come on) - any you unlock should auto unlock when they finally appear though. I'm enjoying playing this - didn't get too far though - only played a few hours
 TruDarkAssassin's avatar
TruDarkAssassin 2 years ago
@TURNIP yeah been on and checked today they are all on now thanks for the info thought there was a glich or some thing lol

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