Game Review: Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

Date released: 2012 (original release), 2014 (Definitive Edition)
Version played: Xbox One in 2016

Originally released back in 2012, and now repackaged with all of it’s DLC packs into one bundle and some visual upgrades, the Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition was released in mid 2016 to the new generation of consoles and on PC. As in the standard version, players take control of undercover police officer Wei Shen as he attempts to infiltrate the triad gang, the Sun On Yee, while still balancing his duties as an officer of the law. The game features the best features of various other series, such as Grand Theft Auto‘s open world stylings, a Batman: Arkham based combat system and free running and parkour movement not unlike the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Unlike the Grand Theft Auto games, firearms are few and far between in Hong Kong, so players will need to rely on melee weapons and the environment to dispatch their enemies, often in incredibly brutal ways.

I played this game, start to finish, a LOT back when it first released, though only played a select few of it’s DLC packs. This is as much a review of the game itself as well as the definitive edition upgrades.

+ the main characters are all fleshed out and life like and being voiced by Hollywood stars, such as Lucy Liu, Kelly Hu, James Hong and Tom Wilkinson only help this. The unseen backstories, available as “police reports”, add to this world and make the interactions between characters that much more meaningful
+ the story is very slow burn, but knows exactly when to hit the emotional buttons. The missions are generally varied enough, and escalate with the story
+ the combat is incredibly satisfying. Like the Batman: Arkham games, you could theoretically just mash the punch button, but the true joy comes from mix-and-matching the weak and heavy strikes, the grapples and most of all, the incredibly violent environmental kills
+ the gameplay in general seems to take a much more hands on approach than most contemporary games: parkour is simple, but does require timed button presses rather than just holding down the sprint button and hacking takes a trial and elimination approach to find a code
+ the city of Hong Kong, on Xbox One compared to the 360, looks phenomenal. The various neon signs and advertisement billboards bring the whole city to life in a way many later open world games have not been able to replicate

– the driving is a little bit wild, much like the recently reviewed Watch_Dogs 2. Maybe I just don’t understand cars, but very few of these open-world games seem to make driving feel like it should
– The DLC packs, when played after the story, are somewhat lacking. The Zodiac Tournament in particular can be finished in roughly half an hour, and the other two not being part of the main game (they are accessed separately from the main menu) means what you’ve done in the main story is essentially meaningless. The smaller non-story DLC packs, such as weapons and particularly the James Bond style bulletproof car with mounted machine guns, makes many of the story missions trivial at best. Of course you could just not use these, but hey, if they’re available…

> as I was playing, I was thinking what a fantastic TV series this would make. A 13 episode Netflix run would be absolutely incredible
> apparently the original Chinese title of the game translated to “Undercover Dragons”, which would make sense, considering Wei Shen’s prominent dragon tattoo

Should you play this game: Absolutely. If you have only played the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions, this upgrade is well, well worth playing. If you have never played it before, I cannot recommend playing this game enough.

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