Tagged "Sleeping Dogs"

Sep 21
By Matt Gander In Reviews 1 Comment

Sleeping Dogs. Now that’s a name ripe for pun making. Had this free-roaming oriental adventure – which originally started out as a new True Crime game for Activision – turned out to be on the smelly side we could have rolled out such one-liners as “this dog should have been put to sleep” and “every dog has its day, but not this one”. Thankfully though it has turned out to be rather excellent. Who’s a good boy? United Front Games are. Yes they are.

For us it was how superb the game looks that drew us in rather than the plot. Everything, be it the grimy city streets of Hong Kong to the citizens themselves, are incredibly detailed. You can even make out the sticky marks on the floor in the seedy nightclub.

Those super sharp textures do sadly appear to have come at a cost. The game world is split into four areas, ranging from a rundown rural area to a somewhat more upmarket business distinct, but even so after just a couple of hours in the shoes of undercover cop Wei Shen the backdrops start to become a little over familiar. There’s not a great assortment of licensed music for the GTA-style radio station either, although the music that is there is pretty good.

The plot sees Wei infiltrating a gang, starting out on the bottom rung and eventually gaining the trust of the longest serving crime lords out there. Being a cop, Wei has to occasionally liaise with the police under strict secrecy and can also take on missions that’ll result in the capture of wanted criminals. The story didn’t really grip us until around halfway in as it’s around this point that comes apparent that Wei is starting to genuinely care for his fellow gang members.

One thing that Sleeping Dogs is top dog at is combat. When encountering a group of enemies the camera pans back to give you a wider view, which is handy as you certainly need to keep a watchful eye on the opposition. They attack from all angles – give them the chance to attack from behind and they’ll take it. Enemies with weapons are ballsier than the rest, often charging at Wei to get in with an attack first, while grapplers can only be defeated with heavy attacks or counters. The counter moves are brilliantly animated, not to mention brutal, and it’s also possible to make use of environmental hazards that are handily placed.

Oddly, the difficulty level for the combat is reverse to what you’d expect. Several fights at the start of the game gave us a bit of a headache, but later once Wei had learned some new moves and gained a longer health bar we were strong enough to take on large gangs single-handily. Food from market stalls can also give temporary improved abilities. Wearing certain outfits can improve stats as well.

The XP system is rather clever. There are two XP meters – police activity fills one meter while triad gang activity fills the other. You start off with full XP for police missions and for every incident, like accidentally killing an innocent, XP is knocked off. For triad gang activity it’s the opposite – criminal activity such as shooting out car tyres and pulling off a head shot bags extra XP. There’s no online play but there are leaderboards for each mission where you can compare scores against people on your friend’s list.

As the Wei becomes more proficient in his two roles new skills are available such as the ability to break into cars without the alarm going off. Incidentally, vehicles are a pleasure to drive. Each handles as well as the last and the handbrake can spin any vehicle around with ease. There are no planes or helicopters but there are motorbikes and boats. Only later missions take place on the seas but there are three different locations off shore that can be visited at any time, including a shady casino on an oil rig.

There is a slight silly streak throughout but it’s not as predominant as in Saint’s Row: The Third. One mission sees Wei trying karaoke – which involves playing a mini-game – while another entails breaking into a mansion and messing up the ‘feng shui’ of somebody’s furniture. There are thirty-odd smaller ‘favour’ missions to complete too, which mostly take just one or two minutes each. These aren’t anything too involving though – one simply entails throwing a drunk down an alley which took us quite literally all of five or six seconds.

At least plenty of other things have clearly had more thought put into them. The game world is logically designed – garages are placed next to every safe house allowing you to get back on the road in no time at all, and you’re never too far away from a vending machine or market stall if you need some of those aforementioned temporary abilities. Checkpoints for the optional races are signposted so well that it’s impossible to miss them even the hidden collectable items serve a purpose, either giving you a new item of clothing or a few extra Hong Kong dollars. The hacking mini-games require a bit of thought and the ability to hack into video cameras and then arrest people from the comfort of Wei’s own home is a nice touch.

Sleeping Dog does many things well, easily putting similar games to shame, but there are also a few other things it does a lot worse such as the sense of discovery and exploration. Shoot outs aren’t quite as exciting as we hoped either, despite the ability to activate a slow-mo ability. As a whole though it’s an impressive package – fun to play, pleasingly brutal and good looking. We bet Activision are deeply regretting not keeping hold of it.

Sep 17
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 hasn’t been able to dislodge Sleeping Dogs from the top of this week’s UK chart, having to make to with #2 instead.

The individual format chart show us that the PlayStation 3 version has proven to be the most popular. In fact, the Xbox 360 version was outsold by The Sims 3: Supernatural.

Back to the all-formats. NHL 13 slides in at an impressive #9 placing. Max Payne 3 is back in at #10 due to price cuts but Darksiders II has left the top 10 this week, down from #9 to #17.

Spec Ops: The Line is this week’s biggest climber, rising up all the way from #37 to #16. It can be found for less than £20 both online and on the high street now, hence why it has risen.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted isn’t exactly a game we’ve been keeping an eye on, but we’re surprised to see it at #29 in the Wii chart this week as both Play and Amazon have it listed for a 12th October release. We can only assume that some copies have slipped out incredibly early.

Sep 10
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Square-Enix’s Sleeping Dogs is back at #1 in this week’s UK chart. This is likely to be down to word of the game’s greatness still spreading, and Tesco has already dropped the price to £24.47.

It’s a new entry at #2 – PC add-on The Sims 3: Supernatural. At #3 it’s New Super Mario Bros. 2 while London 2012: The Official Video Game remains at #4 and LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes holds onto #5.

Last week’s #1 Guild Wars 2 has fallen to #6. This week also sees Transformers: Fall of Cybertron leaving the top 10, falling from #8 to #14.

In the single-format charts Port Royale 3: Pirates & Merchants enters at #37 in the Xbox 360 chart while Activision’s virtual pet Wappy Dog sits at #26 in the DS chart. That’s a bit of a rough start.

Sep 03
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The anticipated Guild Wars 2 has managed to ‘do the business’ for NCsoft, arriving at #1 in the UK chart. It’s the first PC game to go straight to the top spot since Football Manager 2011 back in November 2010.

Sleeping Dogs moves down to #2. Then at #3 it’s New Super Mario Bros. 2, followed by London 2012: The Official Video Game and LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.

Last week’s new entries Darksiders 2 and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron have dropped to #6 and #8 respectively.

At #7 it’s EA’s Madden NFL 13.

Tales of Graces f has charted higher than we expected, in at #14 in the all formats chart and an even more impressive #3 in the PlayStation 3 chart.

Worms Collection wiggles its way into the Xbox 360 chart at #31 but the PlayStation 3 version is nowhere to be found.

Aug 20
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Take note publishers who aren’t either Nintendo or Square-Enix – gamers are quite happy to go out and buy new releases during the summer.

Both Sleeping Dogs and New Super Mario Bros. 2 have performed well, taking the top and second spots of the UK chart respectively. Sleeping Dogs is in fact the sixth best selling game this year based on first week sales.

Chart-Track tells us that eShop downloads for NSMB 2 aren’t accounted for but even if they were we doubt that the popular plumber would be at #1 this week considering it costs a ridiculous £39.99 to download.

Curiously, the original New Super Mario Bros. also entered at #2 way back in 2006.

Due to these two new releases London 2012: The Official Video Game is down to #3. Then we have LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes at #4 and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games at #5.

With the movie now out, Disney’s Brave tie-in has finally surfaced at #39 in the all-formats chart and climbs as high at #7 in the DS chart.

Aug 15
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

After a dull few weeks with very little being released we finally have some exciting stuff upon us.

If Square-Enix’s Sleeping Dogs had turned about to be poor no doubt the creatively void journalists out there would be reeling out lines like “This dog should have been put to sleep” and “Every dog has its day, but not this one”.

Thankfully though reviews have been full of praise. It sounds like it has much in common with Saints Row 3 – it’s loads of fun but missing the polish which GTA games usually have. The first two reviews to surface were from the official magazines – both Official PlayStation Magazine UK and The Official Xbox Magazine gave it a 9/10. Once the embargo was lifted on Tuesday a few more reviews appeared such as Play magazine’s 80% and Eurogamer’s 7/10. EDGE didn’t enjoy it quite as much, however, giving it a 6.

Then we have New Super Mario Bros. 2 for 3DS. Having read a lot of reviews it would seem that if any another publisher released it, it would be getting a string of 9s but when compared to Nintendo’s own efforts (Mario Land 3D in particular) it’s ‘only’ worth a 7 or 8. To be given a 2D Mario game after Mario Land 3D does feel a bit of a step backwards, and let’s not forget that New Super Mario Bros. Wii U will be upon us soon too. At least Nintendo has tried to make it different from the last two NSMB games. This one has a focus on collecting coins – there are loads of them all over the place. Not wanting to sound cynical again but you have to wonder if this would have worked better if it were a Wario game. Wario is the money grabber in Nintendo’s family, after all.

Reviews include a 7/10 from Spong, 8/10 from Eurogamer and 80% from Nintendo Gamer. If you pre-order it from GAME you’ll get a shiny little cart case. If you can’t be bothered to leave your house then you can download it from the eShop but at £39.99 you’re paying for the convenience more than anything.

Also hitting 3DS is the catchy named Sudoku + 7 Other Complex Puzzles by Nikoli. It contains the excellent Slitherlink so don’t be writing this one off so soon.

Microsoft’s ‘Summer of Arcade’ promotion ends on a high this week with Dust: An Elysian Tail. It’s a swish looking 2D action RPG which features cameo appearances from other XBLA game characters. Reviews have been very positive such as The Official Xbox Magazine’s 9.5 and IGN’s 8.5.

PlayStation owners on the other hand finally get Sound Shapes – which we haven’t heard a bad word about – and Papo & Yo, which lets you explore the slums of South America via a child’s imagination. It’s more mature than you may expect – the main character visits their fantasy world to escape the fear of their father’s substance abuse. Just like every other game mentioned this week reviews have been decent.

Next week is looking pretty good for new releases too, especially seeing as Darksiders II is being launched on Tuesday to tie-in with the US release.

Next week: Darksiders II (PS3, 360 and PC), Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition (PC) and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (PS3, 360).

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