Imagining Hong Kong: Sleeping Dogs

By Adam Smith on March 19th, 2012 at 8:53 am.

I was a little bit mean about Sleeping Dogs last time I saw an advertrailer for it. The message I took away was ‘this is a game in which men will hit one another in a generic setting’. In what I can only assume is a response to that post, the developers have released a new video in which they talk about why they chose Hong Kong as the location for the game, taking time to explain the details they’ve tried to capture, the variety of the place, and the fact that exploration and idle wandering are possible in between the bopping and chopping. Let’s take a tour.

My interest is piqued, which is quite an achievement at this time on a Monday morning. Normally it’s still on my pillow, burrowing its face in the memory foam of apathy.

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33 Comments »

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  1. kwyjibo says:

    Will the game’s dialog be in Chinese?

    • Adam Smith says:

      One of the things I found jarring with the previous trailer was the voice acting – a mix of English types. Maybe there’ll be an option? I played AssCreed 2 with subtitles and I’m sure I enjoyed it all the more because of it.

    • Oof says:

      Exactly my concern with the last trailer. Everyone spoke in English. Give me some Cantonese, please! It’s such a waste of stylisation when you set your game in this “exotic” locale, and then have everyone voice everything in English. It’s just… AARGH.

    • heledir says:

      Doing that might end up costing a lot of money though. Having both options, English and Chinese means double the voice actors and even if you just make the important dialogue dual it is still a lot of work. Also the whole script needs to be translated and they need to make sure that none of the story gets lost in translation. It’s not as simple as it sounds.
      Although that’s only if they want to make it right, they could also just do some cheap translation, because most of the audience won’t be able to understand it anyway.

      • Oof says:

        I’m assuming they’re going to regionalise the VOs, no? Why would including the Chinese VOs, even if they must be download-only, cost them extra?

        Come to think of it, do they regionalise anything for China? Does China even allow these kinds of games? I know very little about China, obviously.

        • Shuck says:

          Selling games in China is… complicated. If the game is being made by a Chinese company, it can be sold there with few problems – unless it’s a console game, in which case forget it.

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      AmateurScience says:

      Aww man I wish wish wish devs were brave enough to have ‘foreign’ languages with localised subtitles in games. It would be infinitely better than everyone sounding american or (worse) affecting a shonky regional accent a la ‘Allo ‘Allo.

      Strange example, but the only game I can remember doing that was Knights of the Old Republic’s Twi’Leks/Wookies &c.

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        BubuIIC says:

        The last express did that too.

      • YourMessageHere says:

        There’s Stalker. Much of the incidental dialogue was in Russian, but most main to-player speech was accented English. IIRC a mod came out to change everything to Russian with subs.

      • awkm says:

        Having lived in HK for 10 years and being a native Cantonese speaker, I prefer they just get really good English voice actors who are speaking English normally… not with a Chinese accent. There are plenty of Asians who can speak fluent English with no accent. A character here or there, like if they’re older, has a slight accent I am okay with that.

        The reason I push for English is because developers are mostly in the West, Asian actors oftentimes don’t speak their mother tongue that well. I speak Cantonese with an English accent. This was the case with with Deus Ex 3. Some voice actor’s speaking Mandarin had an accent and that bothered me. I was okay with them speaking English with a slight Chinese accent since it wasn’t the majority of the game. Those kinds of details are evocative of the location.

        Since Sleeping Dogs has a majority of its cast as Chinese, hearing accented English the whole way through would be bothersome… if not stereotypical.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          Show me someone with ‘no accent’ and I’ll show you someone who never speaks. Do you mean they have a British accent? An American accent?

    • Voon says:

      Was going to ask the same thing. Felt like it would be natural for the characters to speak in Cantonese in this game

  2. BULArmy says:

    I really hope the game is a good game and I will buy it. I liked the other two True Crime games, even tough they had a lot of issues. Sandbox GTA style games are not so much, so I welcome such attempts.

  3. greenbananas says:

    Can we get a faithful (as can be), explorable KWC by any chance? I’m sold if so.

    • Pie says:

      Kowloon Walled City was demolished 25 years ago so you might want to keep your Shenmue II and your Dreamcast lol.

      • greenbananas says:

        So why should it not being there anymore be any impediment for a game to use it? Besides, Shenmue 2’s two derelict high-rises are hardly a substitute, however cool.

        Also, hate to be pedantic but 1993 or 1994 wasn’t 25 years ago, unless I time-traveled since this morning.

        • Pie says:

          O yes 25 years ago is when they announced it my bad.
          I mean since its long gone by now, its difficult to recreate how it looked like back then so Shenmue II could be as faithful as you can get.

  4. eroticfishcake says:

    I’m still wary of the gameplay but I’m glad they chose Hong Kong as a setting since it’s so unique in a lot of ways. I’m surprised that there isn’t a lot of games which use it as a backdrop (the only other game being Shenmue II). I used to live there so it’ll be interesting to see how they portray it.

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    P7uen says:

    Did I see chickens in crates? They were using all their energy not to say the phrase “East meets West”, sounds like a wide-eyed tourists interpretation of HK. I would love to see a GTA4 style version of HK instead of another 3d version of Chun Li’s China level in SF2.

    Living in HK can be considered An Internet Expert, therefore I can tell you the most accurate simulation of HK was Wanchai in Deus Ex (I may be lying).

    • bill says:

      I remember hong kong having a lot of chickens in crates, and being very “east-meets-west”*.

      Or, more accurately, “east and west live in close proximity but do their best to ignore each other’s presence and not interact”. But then again, i was there a long time ago…

      • Pie says:

        Chickens in crates is still quite a common sight if you go markets near estates. Some Hong Kongers prefer their chicken slaughtered the moment they bought it, “keep the freshness and taste better” they said. And no, I cant tell the differences at all for all these years lol

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I’ve not been to HK, but I went to mainland China a short while ago and lived in Tokyo for a year. I think they made the first tourist mistake: look at everything through a camera. I always find I appreciate a new place best if I’m not trying to take pictures of everything all the time. Rather than looking at everything with a photographer’s eye for composition, framing, colour and so on, they need to go and just look at the place for what it is, appreciate what they see on a personal level. Once you’ve got a feel for it, then break out the camera; your shots (and presumably therefore your level design) will be all the better for it.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Well, they kind of have to take pictures. It’s not just taking pictures to make a great shot or whatever, but for referencing. You want to be able to go back and say, “okay, so that’s what the branches on those trees looked like.” To be able to go and see how the big or small the signs are, etc. They’re not taking pictures to form some idealized image, but so they can have direct references when making textures, models, level design, etc. It’s a lot better to have those reference photos than to try and just build it out of memory, which often results in a more idealized outcome than being faithful to your references.

    • awkm says:

      I lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, their impressions and environment modeling is pretty accurate. Through a lens or not, I think they’ve given HK the respect it deserves in terms of reproducing its architectural vibe of East and West. The only thing that bothered me was the shot of the temple courtyard. It was surprisingly open looking and had a lot of sunlight. It might be the camera angle but open space is rare in HK. A family of 4 will probably be more than willing to live in a room the size of a North American master bathroom—in some cases that’s already big! And almost every building is at least 10 stories tall and closely packed together so sunlight is hard to come by too if you’re not in the middle of the street.

      The developers went to Hong Kong, spoke to the people (surprised they got to speak with triad peeps), walked the streets, and experienced the city first hand. I was really surprised when I saw the first trailers of the game, even then I was impressed. Now I just have respect for the devs.

  6. BobsLawnService says:

    You can afford memory foam? RPS is paying you too much.

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    jrodman says:

    That hair is amazing.

    • ulix says:

      Now that you’ve said it, I’m incredibly jealous…

      That city map on the other hand… the city seems to have very few streets, almost like one of these open world Need for Speeds, or a PS2-Era GTA (that wasn’t San Andreas). It seems rather simplistic.

  8. Oof says:

    I would love to know why Square Enix London (apparently) made this game, and not Square Enix Japan…

  9. CaspianRoach says:

    “…games have never been [in Hong Kong] before…”

    Bitch, please. http://www.giantbomb.com/hong-kong/95-1083/
    45 results. You were saying?

  10. Bodminzer says:

    Can we (or the writers themselves) do something about the constant misuse of the word ‘generic’? When used to mean anything other than ‘Unspecific/undefined/non-specific’ it just reeks of the kind of lazy, thoughtless writing that The Other Websites use. “Hong Kong” is not a generic setting. It is a very specific one. “A Chinese city” would be a generic setting, “A city” more so.
    You may have meant to say it was a boring, uninspired, lazy, overused setting, but it definitely was not a ‘generic’ one. See also: describing games that the writer thinks contain inadequate amounts of content as ‘tech demos’.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Clearly Mr Adam Smith esq. was talking about his impression of the game in motion, rather than the actual specified setting. ‘It gave the impression of being generic’ is not the same as ‘it was generic’. It’s fairly plain, I think, that this means he felt the devs were taking a potentially superb setting and wasting it (until this point) by failing to include things that prevented it from looking unspecific, i.e. not making the game look like it’s set in HK.

  11. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I also have a memory foam pillow
    Does this mean we will be friends?