“Sleeping Dogs’ story is by far its strongest quality. You play Wei Shen, an undercover cop infiltrating the organized crime gang of his hometown, a gang whose name I can neither spell nor pronounce even now. At first, it’s the gang that questions the loyalty of this newcomer, but eventually it’s Shen’s police superiors who begin to think he’s getting in too deep.
As the player, you have no choice in the matter. It’s a linear story that’s going to play out like it plays out. But it’s a gripping drama. It feels real. You wonder what’s going to happen, whether Shen will finally go over the edge or what. Wanting to know what was next was what kept me playing. The bite-size, okay-just-one-more missions certainly helped, but I was in large part sticking around to see the next cinematic scene.
The unorthodox setting certainly helps. I’ve never been to Hong Kong so I couldn’t tell you if the city is lovingly recreated or totally fake or what. I don’t know if it’s realistic, but it’s certainly exotic. It vaguely reminds me of Tokyo but not exactly. Driving on the left side of the street, getting on and off the highway. It’s best in the rain with a sad song on the radio (several stations, mostly Chinese music).
The key feature that separates Sleeping Dogs from the rest of the sandbox genre is the martial arts combat. Guns are rare in Hong Kong, a character explains early on in an attempt to let me know why I will get a million guns in some missions but can’t carry them into others…”
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