As development of Sleeping Dogs comes to an end gamers may not realise just how much of a rocky road this title has had to reach this point. Development began in 2008 at United Front Games, as a new IP called Black Lotus, but Activision soon turned the game into the third title in their True Crime series. Originally due out in 2010 the game was then delayed to 2011, but on February 9, 2011 the game was cancelled as a part of Activision's restructuring and refocusing despite the title being playable from start to finish.
Fast forward six months to August 2, 2011 and Square-Enix announced they had acquired the rights to the game (but not the True Crime name) and changed the name to Sleeping Dogs in early 2012 to go with an August 2012 release date. So here we are. The game is weeks away and it's looking pretty good. But what's it about?
Welcome to Hong Kong, a vibrant neon city teaming with life, whose exotic locations and busy streets hide one of the most powerful and dangerous criminal organizations in the world: the Triads. You play the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop trying to take down the Triads from the inside out. You'll have to prove yourself worthy as you fight your way up the organization, taking part in brutal criminal activities without blowing your cover. Torn between your loyalty to the badge and a criminal code of honor, you will risk everything as the lines between truth, loyalty and justice become permanently blurred.
Chop. Chop. Sleeping Dogs is brutal.
There's no denying that this third person open world styled game will have direct comparison to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto franchise. The game allows you to traverse the city on foot or in a vehicle, talk to people, take on missions and so much more. That's not all though as Sleeping Dogs includes some interesting gameplay elements including a "buffs" system where you can improve you stats temporarily via various means. By eating or drinking various items you can increase your stats for a period of time. For instance, drink and energy drink and your aiming will be improved by 10% for a period of 20 minutes. It's possible to use three "buffs" at once. It's also possible to upgrade your character and improve his abilities including combat moves by gaining experience through a game.
While there is a large focus on the single player campaign, it still comes as some surprise to hear there is no multiplayer modes in Sleeping Dogs. Having said that the developers are including two "social" aspects to the game. The first is a leaderboards for the missions whereby you can compare your mission scores to other gamers around the globe. The second sees a series of stats collected during gameplay and uploaded to worldwide challenges. If you pull a super-long wheelie on a motorbike this can be uploaded, or sent to your friends to be beaten.
Given the content of the game there was some question whether it would get past the Classification Board to be released in Australia however the game did receive a MA15+ rating with the advice "strong violence, crime themes, coarse language and sexual references". Yet another cool feature, if you have a safe file from Just Cause 2 then you will unlock an exclusive clothing set which will allow you to hijack vehicles from a greater distance. Finally while nothing has been announced as yet it's likely, hopefully, that we'll see DLC somewhere down the track for the game.
Wearing the Just Cause 2 costume.
As you can see from the surrounding screenshots the developers have created that looks pretty nice indeed and we certainly hope that the frame rate holds up and screen tearing is kept to an absolute minimum. Animation has been given much attention, so much so that UFG brought in UFC champion George St-Pierre to advise on fighting moves.
Not to be outdone the audio in this game should also rock with a fantastic list of actors providing over 2 hours of voice work for the game. Will Yun Lee (Die Another Day, Total Recall) voices Wei Shen, Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins) voices Police Inspector Pendrew while Edison Chen (The Dark Knight) voices Jackie Mah. Supporting Cast include Emma Stone, Robin Shou, Terence Yin, James Hong, Lucy Liu, Tzi-Ma, Yunjin Kim and Kelly Hu. Now that's impressive.
Sleeping Dogs is a fantastic looking open-world title. Despite the lack of faith from Activision everything we've seen points to something quite impressive indeed and Square-Enix may have a hit on their hands when this game hits shelves in late August. We'll be keeping an eye out for this game.
Somone is about to get pick-pocketed.
Racing around the streets of Hong Kong.
Here's the latest trailer for Sleeping Dogs which focuses on the gunplay...