Wot I Think: Sleeping Dogs

By Alec Meer on August 16th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

I'd have thought having that photographer sat underneath and to the right of him would really put him off his aim

I’ve been playing the game that once was Activision’s True Crime: Hong Kong, but morphed into Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs. It’s a GTA-like set in Hong Kong, starring an undercover cop submerging himself into criminal gangs. Here is what fell out of my head in response to it.

I have opinions on a great many things- why cats are better than children, why mushrooms are the greatest foodstuff on Earth, why I’d have little-to-no problem with all men being wiped out, why habitual smokers should bear in mind that the nurse who comes in to change the bag of liquid faeces they’re wired up to for the last, miserable months of their truncated lives isn’t going to say ‘well, never mind, at least it sometimes made you look a bit like you might be in a band when you were younger’ – but I could summon no opinion on Sleeping Dogs for the longest time. (Well, I say ‘longest time’, but that would imply that ‘nine’ is the largest sum of hours I can imagine, and that’s simply not true. I was on a 14-hour flight once, for instance.) ‘No opinion’ is not a careful way of saying ‘a negative opinion.’ I mean exactly what I say – the total absence of opinion, one way or another.

I was there and it was there and I was playing it, but no chords were struck. I’ve driven digital sports cars around darkened digital cities so many times by now that I believe a certain part of my pickled brain simply didn’t kick in and acknowledge that I was playing something new. I was working on raw muscle memory. If that sounds dangerously like an opinion about Sleeping Dogs – i.e. that it is very similar to a great many post-GTA III games – please believe me when I say such thoughts didn’t occur to me until past the nine hour mark. I sat there and I played, and I may even have let my jaw slacken and drool a little, but I didn’t think.

I knew exactly what I was doing without having to make conscious effort: this was pure habit. I don’t analyse my morning ablutions, for instance. Then, as it always does in This Sort Of Thing, came The Moment. The moment when it ceased to be merely a game and became My Game. The moment when Sleeping Dogs and I connected. There’s a secret to what makes this happen, in Sleeping Dogs or almost any other game of its sort.

Juxtaposition! These games – these open, urban worlds we rampage through a few times each year – live or die on it. Really, they offer only one thing, and that is the freedom to shoot, punch, kick or drive over as many people as you see fit, until such time as they are dead. For all the many bells and countless whistles added to sandbox cityscapes since Grand Theft Auto III become a cultural phenomenon, the essential gangster-unbound fantasy has not changed.

It’s the juxtaposition of that essential activity – the ad-hoc, unpunished mass eradication of computer-controlled characters for our entertainment – with the sights and sounds of each of these cityscapes that can keep this hoary formula fresh. X will be multiplied by Y, and suddenly this open world isn’t just another place to shoot, punch, kick or drive within. Suddenly it’s yours.

Here was mine, courtesy of in-game radio station Sagittarius FM:

FAR AWAY [splat] IN TIME FAR AWAY [scrrrrrrrrrrrape-crunch] IN TIME FAR AWAY [aarghcrashwheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee]

Don’t ask me to offer an objective opinion about Echo Beach, for that is impossible. You might as well ask me to offer an objective opinion about the fourth paving slab to the left on the street outside the first house I ever lived in. It’s one of those songs that was and forever will be there in my brain, and as such can dredge up associations I’m not even conscious of. Ring the bell and Pavlov’s dog will start drooling. Play the song and little Alec Meer will start tapping his toes.

He will also, it transpires, begin to drive faster and more recklessly, and yet somehow more adeptly, cruising around a vibrant, rain-soaked Hong Kong at maximum speed while parts of his body twitch to the sax-imbued 80s rhythm and every splatted civilian only seems like a natural part of this perfect meld of music and movement. He will also discover that if he rhythmically taps left and right just so while driving, the car will appear to dance to Martha & The Muffins. He will do this whenever the song comes on again, and be faintly annoyed when the song ends.

This may not be very interesting to you. All these open world games have those juxtapositions of retro song and casual hyper-violence, after all – there’s nothing remotely new about it. I’m just telling you what happened. If you’re waiting for me to say something that will guide you in your potential purchase of Sleeping Dogs, I will stand on my hind legs and tell you it is 8 graphics out of 10. Now. My connection to the game achieved, I was able at last to consider it.

Where was I? Hong Kong, a hectic melange of East and West, where I could ping rapidly from carbon fibre cars and gleaming skyscrapers to grubby street markets and pork roll vendors to elegant, serene temples. It is a good city for this kind of game. New York seems so over-familiar, but so many of the world’s other capitals – London, Paris – aren’t anywhere near so well-suited to high-speed driving despite their grand array of sights and people. Hong Kong works, because it like New York it is urbanity incarnate. It is also, to my bleary British eyes, ever so slightly alien in tandem to being recognisably a metropolis as I know them from both reality and games.

Who was I? An undercover cop, infiltrating the Triad and bending both sides’ rules in the process. An unfaithful lover. A martial artist. A race expert. A crack shot with a pistol. A man caught between the lure of the law and the lure of adopted family that just so happens to also be a crime cartel. The plot is all over the place, repeatedly offering compelling setups in terms of both grey-area morality and supporting characters but tending to default to catch’n'kill, which coupled with your unremarked-upon freedom to kill whosoever you wish when bombing around between mission, entirely robs the game of any sense of being caught on the horns of an overarching dilemma.

For all that, individual moments work well, and there’s a persistent air of paranoia that Sleeping Dogs’ dialogue’s unfortunate tendency towards the obnoxious can’t undo. And ,at times, the dialogue and the close-focus storytelling really shines. There are stomach-punch moments of horror, both in terms of witnessing bad things happen to people you’re growing fond of and, in one moment I’m dying to discuss but can’t at this stage (spoilers!) confronting you, the unrepentant and oh-so-male player, with the twisted hypocrisy of your anything-goes morality.

While Sleeping Dogs has a thousand and twelve things in common with GTA IV, and in fact probably has a poster of GTA IV on its bedroom wall which it whispers ‘I love you’ to every night before it goes to sleep, one thing it doesn’t copy is Rockstar’s predilection for grotesques in its supporting cast. It wants its talking characters to be believable, albeit very much through an unashamedly, proudly low-brow action movie lens, and while at times this means blandness at others it means points of human connection and even the tugging of heartstrings.

99% of the game’s plot and characters will have faded from my memory by this time next month, but it’s that 1% that sticks – and it will – that matters. Sure, Sleeping Dogs unblinking high-speed and defaulting to exploitation can undermine the powerful moments, but there most certainly are powerful moments. I would love to know what this game had been had it not also felt it needed to be there-are-gangsters-so-there-must-be-swearing-and-posturing-constantly, because there is a stout kernel of nobility and real heart underneath the macho affect.

Oh, right, I was supposed to be artificially asking questions of myself and then answering them for you, the potential consumer’s benefit. Would it help if I said Sleeping Dogs is 7 longevities out of ten?

What was I doing? Well, driving and violence, although the major break from the standard open urban world formula is that the violence is predominantly centred around hand-to-hand martial arts, albeit with a whole lot more gruesome bone-snapping and face-crushing than Bruce Lee tended towards. Fights tend to play out like a bloodier yet somehow less crunchy take on the Batman: Arkham games, so it’s about countering, combos and evasion rather than frantic pummelling of buttons and faces.

It can get routine – oh look there is a gang of men waiting for me gosh I wonder what they’ll do – and it can be infuriatingly unresponsive (or perhaps over-responsive, picking up on timing errors you yourself are not quite aware of) but I liked it. Fights did feel like events because my attention could not lapse, so I was kept invested by twin dint of clear and present danger and the power fantasy of knowing that, yes, it is entirely possible for me to triumph over 19 men without ever having to pull a gun.

(Guns are a surprisingly minor part of Sleeping Dogs. They don’t even make an appearance until several hours in, and even thereafter are irregular. When they were present, I strived to avoid using them as the game doesn’t do anything interesting with them and they feel far less satisfying and made me feel less involved in the situation than did the kung fu.)

Driving and violence were not my sole activities, however. I could also:

- Hack security cameras to later spy on ne’er-do-wells and order their arrest. This is the only (non-cutscene-based) arresting in the game, which means the on-the-spot justice of Sleeping Dogs’ forerunners, the True Crime games, has sadly been dispensed with.

- Other things involve the above, fairly irksome hacking game. It’s based on the old code-cracking two-player boardgame Mastermind, but with numbers rather than coloured pegs, and while I’ve definitely seen far worse hacking minigames, I still found this to brazenly artificial and a savage punch straight to the kidneys of flow and pace. There are some moments where it has to be done before a guard catches you, and those are admittedly tense, but it didn’t stop me rolling my eyes and loudly saying ‘OH GOD’ whenever I saw those bloody dials turn up.

- Sing karaoke! Yes, it’s as silly as it sounds, and it’s entirely intended to be. It’s baby Guitar Hero, but starring a buff man whose voice goes all wobbly and pubescent when you hit the wrong notes while singing the Clash or Pat Benatar. Ridiculous, and absolutely the sort of minigame I’m in favour of – as well as fitting the setting in a well-observed, gangster-free way.

- Collect things! You know.

- Buy clothes! You know. There are minor buffs for certain matching sets, but the choice of togs largely isn’t wild enough to be anything other than a forgettable distraction. I didn’t bother with much of it, partly because the game regularly dresses you in new outfits during the story anyway.

- Buy cars! Which is absolutely pointless as you can find and ‘borrow’ enough sports cars to fill Donald Trump’s garage at every intersection.

- Go on dates. Side missions to impress the ladies, which if successful end in nookie even if you had only meant to be friendly because you were more interested in another woman. This plays into the morality of the game and the protagonist’s claimed belief that his dangerous, duplicitous life makes him ill-suited to long-term relationships. The polygamy is not unremarked upon, which makes for some strong moments, although the game somewhat shoots these achievements in the foot by abruptly abandoning most of these characters and sub-plots once MISSION COMPLETE and levelling-up bonus achieved.

- Oh yes – levelling up. There are about four different skill trees to make your way up simultaneously, which offer assorted combat abilities and buffs as you do. Two of these – Triad and Police – depend on your performance during missions, for instance public property will dock you police points while headhotting criminals gets you Triad points, but there isn’t any moral absolutism. It is entirely possible to max out both Triad and Police points in any mission. There is also the stupidly-named Face, which you level up in by doing certain side missions, being a dude in combat and – oh dear – successfully making the (unseen but very heavily implied) sex with all the women. Levelling up any of your meters isn’t really necessary for success, especially as it’s not a particularly difficult game, but will give you bonus moves in combat and city-wide assists such as being able to see where useful items are on your map.

2073 words and I’m still listing features in bullet points? Jesus, I’m doing this wrong. Right!

Once I had my Martha & The Muffins moment, I realised that, yes, I was quite enjoying Sleeping Dogs and it had quite a lot going for it despite being an overwhelming familiar experience. I’m not sure I could give you one good reason why it should exist when we have so many games like it already, but I do not begrudge it existing.

I wish it had the big brass balls to further pursue the more heartfelt, self-reflective aspects of being an amoral character that it occasionally explores, but equally I’m ok with taking it on a superficial level – biff and vroom – too, as it does those things well. I mean, there’s zero sense of risk as death just means waking up in the hospital with a small amount of your vast and pointless wealth removed, and it copies the GTA car physics model of making head-on collisions feel like hitting a tree trunk with a baseball bat, but as a place to dick around in it’s got a fairly developed combat model and a striking setting.

It’s also done the work in terms of PC graphics, with a high-res texture pack and DirectX 11 stuff – it looked proper great on my system and ran well too, although for some reason it did make it run so hot that I’ve actually got a couple of spots of my face due to the extreme humidity in my tiny study while I was playing it.

So, yes, quite liked it, good-looking, decent man-punching/kicking, might play a bit more, but I suspect that if you asked me a year from now ‘what was that Square Enix GTA-like set in Hong Kong?’ I’d have to go away and think about it for a bit.

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90 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Alec you’re just trolling here, mushrooms are horrible!

  2. andytizer says:

    For bugs, fixes and workarounds for this PC port, and a fix to the ‘scrolling up’ bug, check out http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Sleeping_Dogs.

  3. JoeGuy says:

    What a odd rather self analytical opening paragraph that was, even for RPS.

  4. JostVice says:

    Do the cars drive like trains? I hate when Open-World games driving is shit (Just cause, saints row…)

    • AshEnke says:

      Why on earth would you want to use cars in Just Cause 2 ?
      I thought they were just here for the scenery.

      • Ultra Superior says:

        Driving in Just Cause ??? Carsurfing is faster. Hugging jetliners is even faster than that.

  5. mrwout says:

    What?!? 8 graphics out of 10? Surely more like 9,125 out of ten.

    • The Random One says:

      That score is ridiculous! How much did Activi$ion pay you to give that crap score? Do you even know what a graphic is? A graphic should be like ten polygons, and this game has at least two thousand polygons, even more if you can run it with blast processing. I’m boycotting this stupid biased website until they give this game the twenty out of eleven score it deserves!

  6. Axess Denyd says:

    Face isn’t really that stupidly named, since the game is set in Hong Kong and the concept is an important part of Chinese culture. I thought it was rather good that they named it that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_(sociological_concept)

    • Archangel says:

      Precisely. This is the English rendering of the nearly-untranslatable Chinese concept of dignity/prestige that absolutely pervades their culture and their gangster movies especially.

    • Rustkill says:

      A Reddit post about Face: Face explanation

  7. Arkon540 says:

    So it’s like Mafia II then? That is what I’m taking away from this WIT anyway. A largely forgettable game which does everything competently, and it can be played and enjoyed, but ultimately there’s only that 1-5% that you will remember in characters, events and cutscenes?

    • woodsey says:

      I think that’s a little unfair. I mean, there is that ONE scene which is just, well, ‘FUCK!’. But I found the game itself to be highly memorable in its first third whilst it’s set during the Winter in the 40s. By which I mean the general atmosphere and sense of place.

      Admittedly it does just kind of die out in the last third.

  8. frightlever says:

    Interesting review. Worth reading. I read Tom Chick’s take and took it with a pinch of salt.

    Remember that terrible, terrible, awesome movie “Equilibrium?” They did gun-fu right. Few games do, though some mods have I guess.

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      LTK says:

      As far as I’m aware there isn’t actually any gun fu (or gun-kata, in Equilibrium terms) in Sleeping Dogs. You can shoot people or beat them up, but I haven’t seen any mention of combining the two.

    • roryok says:

      that terrible, terrible, awesome movie

      is such a great way to describe that film. It really was laughably bad. And fantastic

      • Abbykins says:

        My father died watching Equilibrium, and you flippantly and graphically use such tragedies to add some ‘humor’ to your comments. Insensitive jerk!

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      I love Equilibrium.

      I’m convinced there’s an homage to it in the Dark Knight Rises (as Christian Bale is the lead character in both films). I would love to see a game use gun-kata in some way, although I have no idea how that would work!

      • Arglebargle says:

        City of Heroes. The recent dual pistol power set is absolutely gun kata. Though I had to build my double pistol alt as a robot to let me believe those moves were possible.

    • Kadayi says:

      Chick is a grognard. Fundamentally all he’s interested in is systems and story is kind of an irrelevance to him, so it’s not a surprise that he disliked the game tbh.

  9. AshEnke says:

    Now I’d like Steam to unlock the game in my country since half my friendlist is already playing it and I have to wait 10 excruciating hours.

  10. Laurentius says:

    I wonder how cars are handling, these days I got addicted to GTA IV model and find it extremely pleasurably while for example Saints Row 3 had it terribly unsatisfying.

    • fish99 says:

      Same here, loved the more realistic driving physics in GTA4 but couldn’t get into SR3 due to the way the cars handle. However, having watched someone who isn’t good at driving games try to play GTA4 (also see the comments below for more proof) I can see why most games go with an arcade model.

      Based on Totalbiscuits WTF vid of Sleeping Dogs, the car physics look more SR than GTA4 sadly, but not quite as ridiculous-

    • J_C says:

      Sorry, you will be disappointed, because the driving is more like SR and not like GTA4. I think it is a good thing. Whatever people are saying, GTA4′s modell was not realistic. The cars behaved like boats on the water, like they had jelly suspensions. This game has nice arcade modell, which is OK in my book for an open world game.

      • fish99 says:

        Couple of things – firstly GTA4 physics are clearly way more realistic than SR. In SR3 you can stop from 100 mph to 0 in about a second, you can also accelerate and take turns at ridiculous speeds and you can always pull out of a slide. The devs flat out said they were making the physics as arcadey and forgiving as possible.

        2nd thing, I didn’t say GTA4 say realistic, I said ‘more realistic’. The cars have proper physical modelling, they have independent suspension for each wheel, they have driven wheels, they have individual grip calculations for each tyre and they have proper centre of gravity modelling, but of course they are tweaked to give enjoyable gameplay, so the grip is less than real cars to make them easier to slide (and sliding cars is a large part of what makes GTA style games fun). You also have to realize how fast you’re actually travelling most of the time in these games, so don’t expect the cars to grip like your own car doing 30 mph on your way to the supermarket.

        • Laurentius says:

          GTA4 car handling is arcady but for me it’s this perfect kind of arcady with a hint of realism. Cars feels like physical objects and I actually feel that my cars is accelerating and not just that scenery is moving faster like in SR3 or similar games.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Funny, it was the opposite feeling for me. In an open world game, I don’t want to feel like handling a tank (well, except when I’m actually driving a tank) which is going to stop on the single object available.

      SR3 has “fun” driving, for me. While GTA4 was annoying me, especially that they force you to drive all the way back to the mission each time you fail. If you’re going to make me go from one place to another, please don’t make me feel like I’m commuting.

      • fish99 says:

        The repeated driving sections when you fail a mission is a game design decision (a bad one) not a driving physics issue.

        • Jon Tetrino says:

          There was a restart mission option, though… So at least that was taken out.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s halfway between GTA4 and SR2/3 I’d say. Not totally silly but certainly very forgiving and offers impossible speeds.

    • The Random One says:

      I hated GTAIV’s driving because my favorite thing in open world games is completing as much of the game as possible in crappy cars. I couldn’t do that in GTAIV because the crappy cars handled like crappy cars (and not like go-karts as in previous installments) and the fast cars were realistically difficult to control.

      I played SR2 immediately after GTAIV and it felt like I was driving bars of soap at first, so I see why people might enjoy GTAIV’s driving, but it’s definitely not for me.

  11. Axyl says:

    Thank god.. I was worried this was going to be awful.
    Happy to be purchasing this one this weekend, along with Darksiders 2. :D

  12. Eddy9000 says:

    Oh hey Alec, as we’re all about opinions today let me share one: you could bear in mind that your readership might have lost loved ones to lung cancer, as I did last week, and be a little more fucking sensitive about how flippantly and graphically you use such tragedies to add some ‘edge’ to your game reviews.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I’m very sorry to hear that. It is not there for edge or offence, though, simply aimed to debate with smokers in the (vain) hope that they might spare themselves and their loved ones such awful suffering. Smoking took my nan from me, so it is something I feel very strongly about.

      • Ovno says:

        Not to rub any salt into any wounds, but the one thing I always find a little misleading about such comments on smoking is that we’re all gonna end up that way anyway, smokers or not at some point if we don’t die a violent or accidental death, we’ll probably die an undignified one instead…

        Unless they hurry up with those damn longevity treatments anyway.

        • roryok says:

          I feel the same way about diets and exercise actually. You can’t jog your way to immortality

        • The Random One says:

          Nonsense. There are plenty of people who die peacefully of old age in their sleep (including my great-grandpa, who was a smoker now that I think about it). Also smokers have shorter lives on average, so their living healthily to being hooked to a cathether ratio is smaller. And of course why the hell do you need to smoke? There is nothing good smoking can do for you that a cup of camomile tea can’t do without any of the myriad health hazards.

          • lorez says:

            I believe I shall swear in order that you will surely take my point seriously.

      • battles_atlas says:

        Eddy9000 its entirely understandable to be sensitive at such a time, but I hope on reflection you can see that your complaint is unfair. Are writers not to make reference to death in anything but the most generic, passing manner? We hide from death plenty enough already in modern society without removing it from public discourse lest it upset one of the many readers unfortunate enough to have recently lost a loved one in related circumstances.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          Writers can write about what they like, and if it upsets their readership then they can give an opinion on this.. The only unfair thing here is your expectation that I should not express what I have clearly labelled as an opinion.
          I’ve stated how I feel, Alec had apologised and given some context to his comment, why is it your job to say what is fair or not?

          • battles_atlas says:

            Its not just an opinion though is it? Its the opinion of someone who’s very upset having just lost a loved one. As such there is no way anyone, Alex particularly, can challenge your opinion without looking like a completely heartless douche bag.

            Given you’re accusing Alex of being insensitive your conduct seems somewhat ironic.

      • Ruffian says:

        As a smoker, I completely understand where you’re coming from, but it’s really an argument that bears no restating, we all know it’s bad for you and the health risks involved, but it’s a tough habit to kick. I mean it’s really as simple as that. I’m sure that if it was something you could just put down without depression and withdraws, no one would be smoking. I know I wouldn’t, but right now, I’ve more pressing addictions to be ridding myself of – i.e. the heroin that i stupidly allowed myself to get into as a naive party-going know-it-all hipster high schooler. So I guess, long story short, we (smokers) know.

    • Iskariot says:

      I’ve lost most of my family to cancer of all sorts (only one brother is still alive now, the rest is dead), but I do not understand why one would take offense at all. Live goes on and if we live long enough cancer will get us all. But perhaps I am just desensitized after seeing them die around me like flies.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Well thats a noble goal Alec and I’ve been reading RPS for long enough to know that the writers aren’t given to bad taste and provocation, but I guess in the context of an otherwise wry and humorous review piece it just came across as a little unnessecary. But no worries, it’s just how I took it and you had good intentions.

    • robandr3w5 says:

      It’s always far too easy to feel sensitive about something when you’ve been affected by it. It cheapens any sort of objective debate when you bring such subjective and emotion-driven responses to it. I’m not offended – I can see that it is fairly graphic, but on the other hand, if he had made some reference about losing two grandparents in the space of two months, or the painful death caused by mesothelioma, I would not be up in arms because I try to be reasonable and understand the nature in which it was intended. Reactionary rubbish be damned – smoking is cleary a high risk factor for cancer, cancer is not a nice way to die. Two factual things that your own experiences make no difference to. If you read this site, you should understand that things can be irreverent in tone, and of a more mature nature than much of the game-writing universe. Accordingly, you should moderate your expectations and sensitivities to match. I happen to think Jeremy Clarkson is a moron, and dislike a lot of his throwaway xenophobia. I know this. As such, I don’t watch his stuff, and if I ever do happen to see any, I might disapprove of certain parts, but I don’t write to broadcasting watchdogs – unless I see something goes way beyond the boundaries of expected content.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        Actually mate I think that until the people of the world unite to declare you the keeper of all truths then you should probably stop telling me how I should and shouldn’t think and what I should and shouldn’t expect.

        • robandr3w5 says:

          Well, mon ami, perhaps you need people to interpret things for you that are obvious to everyone else. Sorry for your loss either way, but I still don’t think that this sort of thing should be seen as surprising or particularly insensitive content in context. Whatever.

          • Alec Meer says:

            I really don’t want to be deleting comments that involve bereavements, but further war of words will only lead to greater unhappiness, so please wrap it up there chaps. I hope things feel less painful for you in time, Eddy9000, and I’m sorry to have thrown them into sharper relief.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            I think that after that reply we can all agree on one thing: that Alec is a true gent.

  13. Screamer says:

    “Play the song and little Alec Meer will start tapping his toes.”

    Ahhhhhh **the sound I make every time I remember cruising at night time in Vice City on a “harley” and Billy Jean started playing**

  14. grenadeh says:

    Mighty tall to judge all smokers by the ones who are too stupid to stop or moderate. Mushrooms are nom though. Too bad I need a ps3. Such trash.

  15. Dervish says:

    “If you’re waiting for me to say something that will guide you in your potential purchase of Sleeping Dogs…”

    I don’t know why you guys keep doing this “Oh, this isn’t a review” sneering when WITs are full of answers to implied questions and statements that guide purchases, e.g. “It can get routine … and it can be infuriatingly unresponsive,” “I still found this to brazenly artificial and a savage punch straight to the kidneys of flow and pace,” “it’s got a fairly developed combat model and a striking setting,” etc.

    • Premium User Badge

      Xantonze says:

      I totally agree. Those almighty “Oh no no no, good sir, we’re DIFFERENT here!” are tiring and unnecessary, particularly in this review.
      You guys admit being subjective, and don’t give notes to games, which is nice, and I love the variety and personality of the WIT’s, but they’re still reviews and are also supposed to tell readers how the game “feels” so they know if it’s suited to them, based on their preferences and their connection (or lack thereof, which is the same in the end) to the tastes of the writer.

    • Alec Meer says:

      You misunderstood me/who that was aimed at.

      • battles_atlas says:

        I have to say I’m with those above. I entirely support RPS’ stance on the subjective, arbitrary and often absurd nature of ‘reviewing’ and scores, but this is still a WIT, and readers are here to get a notion of whether this game is worth their time and money. You do of course do just that, but not without a constantly intrusive posturing that this isn’t a ‘Wot I Think’ and we’re not reading it to decide if its good or not. Its just a slightly tiresome distraction from a perfectly good piece of writing.

        As for “You misunderstood me/who that was aimed at”, maybe we’re thick, but if we all misunderstood maybe you should have given us more of a clue. Who amongst the RPS readership was it aimed at?

        • Alec Meer says:

          Heh; the ‘x words on y but barely a mention of features a,b,c’ types who tend to crop up whenever we’re a little more… indulgent. I want to scream when I get a comment pillorying me for not banging on about mouse acceleration or something.

          • battles_atlas says:

            Fair point!

            “If you’re waiting for me to say something that will guide you in your potential purchase of Sleeping Dogs, I will stand on my hind legs and tell you it is 8 graphics out of 10.”

            Just there were a couple bits like this that kind of read like your problem was with anyone reading this expecting to get an idea about whether the game was worth buying, which given the WIT label was probably all of us. I certainly was.

            This is why you’re never supposed to look at your readers comments I suppose…

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            Wisq says:

            I’ve always read WITs as a discussion of whether the game is worth buying or not if your taste in games is exactly the same as the author, i.e. 100% subjective.

            Most other outlets try to do objective reviews for everyone, with the result that you’re never sure how much their own subjective biases influence their recommendation. Here, it’s all laid bare, and it’s up to you to decide how important each aspect is to you, independent of how important they were to the author.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            So if I go to generic review sites, I get all the boring xx out of 10 or 100 nonsense, but since they put all that on the throne, I get none of the kind of stuff I’m really curious about. Such as how many gun slots are there, is it checkpointing or anytime save, has the mouse acceleration been handled well with an option and adjustments, can I mod the game, can I tweak about on it, can I skip the cutscenes, can I pause them, etc.

            And when I come to RPS, I get all the opion, commentary and philosophical ramblings I can handle, and a good dose of humour, but since there is an underlying hate against telling people what the game _actually features as features_ I don’t get told what I really want to know, either(?).

            I won’t find the info on the box, the marketing blurb, the product details. Not on the generic reviews and not on the RPS side.

            So until that inevitable “WTF is this smoothed mouse shit, I can’t aim worth a damn in this stupid game” steam thread fires up in the steam forum, I am SOL because one side is too score focussed, and the other too snide to tell me how the actual game plays.

            Wonderful.

  16. Arglebargle says:

    They won’t let me play Martha and The Muffins video in my country, sad to say. And I even own the album! No Echo for me…

  17. Moni says:

    I wonder how well this game will sell off the back of the other dog themed game that had an impressive showing at E3.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Morph says:

    The radio stations can really elevate games like these. GTA San Andreas having the best selection of course.

  19. iucounu says:

    I read a long way into this, increasingly puzzled, before realising it wasn’t Watch Dogs. D’oh!

  20. thegooseking says:

    Is it really that much like GTA?

    The term “Doom-clone” didn’t last more than a couple of years before giving way to FPS, but people still seem to call GTA on anything involving a third-person perspective, vehicles and an open world, even almost eleven years after GTA3 was released.

    And if that is justifiable, where is the genre’s Unreal? Or GoldenEye? Or, hell, even Duke Nukem 3D? What would a game have to do to make the genre a genre, rather than just a list of GTAlikes?

    (Or is GTAlikes a genre in the same way Roguelikes is?)

  21. Erithtotl says:

    I’ve put in about 7 hours so far into the game and quite enjoying it. I think what will determine how you like this game is what your default approach is to this sort of game. It seems that the devs did not put a priority in enforcing rules around your behavior, meaning that if you want to play it like a GTA free for all, it will undermine the story and conflict between cops and criminals. While this is ultiamtely a mistake of the developer, depending on how you approach the game it may not matter.

    Personally I am playing the role of Wei in the game, as an undercover cop, so I am not going around trying to run over prostitutes and stealing random cars. Because of that I find the unique setting, missions and interesting story very involving. If I set out to break the immersion by being reckless and ruthless and our of character, it would diminsh those aspects that I like.

    I believe this review and to a larger degree Tom Chick’s reviews come from that perspective or trying to play this like GTA and thus being disappointed. I’m not saying that it’s not the fault of the developer by not putting in more consequences for your actions, but as a player you can choose to play this more in the spirit of the story and you’ll get a lot more out of it.

    My only other complaint so far would be that the martial arts fighting is a lot of fun , but a bit too easy. Needs adjustable difficulty.

    • Grim_22 says:

      My exact thoughts when I read this. Why would you use your freedom to kill people randomly when you’re supposed to be a cop? That must really disconnect you from the character and story, but each to his own I guess.

  22. zachdidit says:

    “I suspect that if you asked me a year from now ‘what was that Square Enix GTA-like set in Hong Kong?’…I’d have to sleep on it

    Such a good opportunity missed :(

  23. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    A rather……odd opening paragraph there Alec, even by RPS standards. But anyway..

    I’m only a few hours into the game and it plays really well. The setting is great and the fighting is fun. Not sure about the leveling-up stuff but the feel of the game world is spot on.

  24. SmittyBit says:

    I enjoy smoking. The comment about smokers really makes you sound ignorant (the true meaning of the word, you should look it up).

    • battles_atlas says:

      Given I’ve been critical of this piece above, its only fair I think that I give my view on the cancer bit, which was that it was fucking excellent, what with being both darkly funny and quite true. I’m not sure why it qualifies as ignorant, having looked it up and checked it still means what it did last time I considered it. Are you denying that smokers die sooner, or that they smoke (at least originally, before they get desperately hooked into being a steady stream of profit for an industry of total bastards) to look cool?

  25. zin33 says:

    i dont really get why theres fist fighting in a modern era game with fire guns
    also the combat looked really bland and easy (assassins creed anyone?)

    • ShatteredAwe says:

      In Hong Kong, or rather everywhere else than America, guns are really hard to come by.

  26. Radiant says:

    Just for once I want one of these open world games to have the clothing options of Garance Dor and the varied fucking of a sexeviolence tumblr.

  27. ShatteredAwe says:

    I guess worst part of this game is it’s ending. It’s Linear. Despite the fact that this game lets you play both sides of the law. /facepalm

  28. nmute says:

    what a load of precious poppets.