A free roaming game, sets in Hong Kong, being an undercover police, taking down a triad...how more awesome can it be?! Sounds like a movie material right?? I've been anticipating this game since live-action trailer came out, to finally be able to play a character working for a triad, so bad ass. So like, is this game as good as any other free roaming games such as GTA and Saints Row? Or is it good by its own? Let us find out...
You will be playing as Wei Shen, an undercover cop. His mission is to infiltrate the Sun On Yee triad by being one of them, gather information, and finally take it down. Throughout the story, there will be difficulties for Wei Shen. Sometimes he has to choose which sides he has to follow more in order to get deeper into Sun On Yee for a better advantage; the police or the triad. Some of his decisions, he will be playing it really close to the chest, which really pumps up the mood for the story and the players.
Now, the graphics. The graphics are kinda a hybrid of cartoony and realistic. This can be seen by the use of colors in the game. The colors are sometimes bright and colorful, which brings out the cartoony feeling to the characters and environment designs. The textures and lighting however brings out the realistic part of the graphics in the game. The city design is big enough for the players to roam around aimlessly. Also, I do love how they designed the whole city, sure feels like you are in Hong Kong.
There are a line up of good voice actors for this game (Lucy Liu, Kelly Hu, Will Yun Lee, Emma Stone, etc) and they really did a good job. The dialogues are pretty much okay for video game standard; there are some cheezy dialogues here and there, but overall I can say not bad. Also, the sound effects for the game are nicely done especially during the fighting part, the punches and kicks really sounds satisfying.
To the gameplay! Just like any free roaming games; follow the map to acquire the mission, watch cutscene(s), do the mission. But what makes Sleeping Dogs different is how you execute the missions. The missions are mostly action packed, just like an action movie, which is awesome! There are car chasing (and tackling), lots of hand-to-hand combats and gunfights!
The fighting system is the main attraction in this game. You can point and attack anywhere you want and it will still look natural, no awkward animation transition whatsoever. Also, I can see that the fighting mechanics are highly influenced by Batman Arkham series; when someone is going to attack, indicator will appear, one click and you'll be able to counter attack. The character animation during the basic attacks and also during the counter attacks really look and feels good. When fighting, you don't just blow random punches and kicks, Wei Shen will use martial arts and there are a lot of moves you can acquire and use during the fight, which is pretty sweet.
One thing though is the driving mechanics. Driving a car or riding a motorcycle doesn't feel good enough in this game. If compared to games like GTA and Saints Row, this game has the poorest driving mechanics in my opinion. Sometimes you thought that you can do this kind of drifting or that kind of turning, but doesn't always end up well. Still, if you have played the game long enough, you might be able to pull some driving skills without any problem. Besides that, the amount of side missions and exploration can be fairly entertaining as well. All you need to do is refer to your map for side missions and off you go.
Overall, the main thing that keeps the player interested in playing through the whole game is the story. The story really is good, it has all the materials you need to make a good action movie. The drama, the conflict, every part of the story is nicely done. Besides the story, I must say the combat mechanics can be the reason in keeping the players hooked to the game as well. Also, the amount of gameplay can be fairly long enough for players to feel satisfied.