Sleeping Dogs Preview PAX East 2012
While I’m not normally a big fan of large, open-world sandbox games, I can generally find a few qualities about them that really pull me in and keep me locked in. My problem is just that the worlds tend to be a bit too big, and it’s easy to get distracted by some boring sidequests or the occasional murdering of innocent bystanders. I end up really enjoying myself if the story is really engaging and fun or if I’m able to engage in more than just one type of gameplay style. So, when I found out that I would be playing the upcoming Sleeping Dogs at a Square-Enix event during PAX East, I was initially less than enthusiastic. Really? Another open-world third person shooter? How can this be any different from anything else I’ve played before? Quite different, actually. Holy hell is it different.
Sleeping Dogs tells the story of a Hong Kong police officer who goes undercover to infiltrate and take down the Triad crime syndicate. Immediately, I was more intrigued in this game’s story as the idea of playing a cop is much more appealing to me than playing as a typical thug. My gameplay demo began with my character, Wei Shen, sent to meet with Triad members. Being an officer, I could requisition a car from a garage, which Wei can use to summon any cars he may have purchased. Approaching the mission’s waypoint, I noticed a street vendor selling food outside of the mission area. You can purchase food to temporarily increase Wei’s stats for a few minutes, a feature that I love to see in these types of games. Inside the mission, it appeared as though my “pals” in the Triad were on to me and (via cutscene) proceeded to beat and tie Wei up. What follows is a scene that I don’t want to spoil for you but, well, let me say this: power drill.
Sleeping Dogs mixes open-world gameplay with the flair and style of Hong Kong cinema.
After the cutscene, I made my way through the level into an area filled with enemies for my first real taste of combat. Melee combat is simple, with standard light/heavy attacks and a grapple move, yet still manages to be a lot of fun. However, there were two combat features that really stood out to me. First, enemies about to attack Wei would have an indicator pop up over their heads, allowing me to press “Y” for a counter-attack ala Batman: Arkham Asylum. Secondly (and quite possibly my favorite part about the game), is the ability to drag grappled enemies over to certain glowing areas in the environment for some extremely brutal kills, which reminded me of The Punisher for PS2 and Xbox. One minute, I was smashing a freezer door closed onto some poor thug’s head. After that, I grabbed his friend’s head and burned it on a stove before finally grabbing someone else and pushing them headfirst into a friggin’ tablesaw.
Past that gloriously gory part, I managed find and disarm a gun wielding enemy for a taste of the game’s shooting mechanics. I was told that the guns in Sleeping Dogs are treated more like power-ups, as Wei can only hold one gun at a time. Personally, I didn’t care much for the shooting as it felt like just any old cover-based third person shooter. Sleeping Dogs is obviously trying to recapture the spirit of Hong Kong action movies like John Woo films, so I expected to see more akimbo pistols and over the top segments in this part. However, it might have been the segment that I was playing through that bugged me, or the fact that I had such a blast with the melee combat. I should note that Wei has some parkour style moves that he uses to climb around areas or to slide over cover and disarm enemies in one fell swoop.
When I asked about sidequests and other diversions in Sleeping Dogs, I was told that there will be a ton of content to satisfy players beyond the main story. Wei can enter street races and, while I admit I’m not a huge fans of racing segments in these types of games, I was told that the driving segments were developed by former Need For Speed devs, so you can expect more than just a tacked on minigame. Furthermore, Wei can investigate and bring down various crime bosses in several series of missions that have you earning trust by doing favors while collecting evidence to bring them down. Wei can also use his cellphone for a variety of purposes, whether you want to call contacts about other missions and diversions, call for a car, and more.
I was completely oblivious to Sleeping Dogs prior to PAX, but now the game has definitely earned a place on my “Will Buy” list. It seems like there’s a lot more depth in this open-world title as opposed to simply driving and shooting, including an intriguing story that looks like it’ll twist and turn as it progresses. Be sure to check out Sleeping Dogs when it releases mid-August.
Huh? You want more PAX East 2012 coverage? Then click HERE!