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Sleeping Dogs

Release Date: 
Game Platform: 
PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC
United Front Games/Square Enix
Star Rating: 
8 out of 10

It’s a long way to the top of the Hong Kong underworld.

The Pitch: Blending the themes of Hong Kong Crime Dramas with the open-world gameplay of Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs puts you in the roundhouse-kicking shoes of Wei Shen as he toes the blurry line between undercover cop and rising star in the Chinese triad.

What It Really Is: One of the best open-world games we’ve seen in 2012. We could spend time praising the city of Hong Kong and how it pulsates with life or the variety of (mostly) excellent missions thrown at you over the course of the game but what’s most noteworthy about Sleeping Dogs is the main character, Wei Shen, and the way his story unfolds for him and around him.  Wei starts the game as a nobody, catching flack from even lowly denizens of Hong Kong as he begins his descent into the murky triad underworld. It’s on you to build Wei up, broadening his repertoire of Kung Fu skills and earning him cred as you pull off dirty deed after dirty deed. Sleeping Dogs brings with it all the carnage and chaos you’d expect of a third-person action game but it also sneaks in a fascinating internal struggle when Wei is forced to reconcile his outer baddie with his inner goodie. Having those same lowly denizens end up praising your name and cheering you on would be reconciliation enough for us. Ready-Made Press Blurb: “All that's missing from this cinematic experience is a cameo from Alec Baldwin.”

Fun Fact: Initially meant to be part of Activision’s True Crime franchise, Sleeping Dogs was very nearly True Crime: Hong Kong until Activision abandoned it after several delays. Thankfully, Square Enix picked it up, changed its name, reduced the scale, increased the intensity and pumped out a game that was almost vaporware.

Who’s It For: Owners of The Departed box set and the hipsters who proclaim that Infernal Affairs was the far superior version can get huffy when they realize that Sleeping Dogs borrows from both and might actually be more fun.