Sleeping Dogs is not a perfect game. It has some flaws, but those are not flaws of apathy or ignorance. They’re flaws of ambition.
I’ll tell you the moment I realized how great this game was: It was when I was thinking about the vehicle physics and it dawned on me that it wasn’t that the driving was crappy, it was that each vehicle handled too realistically for the control scheme.
It’s that textured.
In a lot of ways, it simply builds on the ideas of others. But Sleeping Dogs has a lot of virtues. Here are five of them.
#5) The Wonderful Combat System
Combat systems can be the death of many games, but not this one. Essentially Sleeping Dogs has the combat system of the Batman: Arkham franchise, but built around kung fu instead of batarangs. It’s surprisingly deep as well; you can’t just blindly mash buttons. Of special use are the environmental attacks, which are generally tributes to Hong Kong cinema takedowns and essentially insta-KOs. But you can’t use them on the tougher enemies, so strategy comes into play.
#4) The Size and Scope of Hong Kong
I’ve got no idea whether this is a realistic depiction of the city of Hong Kong. But it’s definitely a depiction of Hong Kong as you see it in John Woo or Johnnie To movies. It’s big enough and dynamic enough, full of complaining citizens, little shops, and collectibles, that it feels like a living, breathing city.
#3) The Motivation of the Missions
The missions themselves are somewhat varied but there’s only so far you can go with this. What does make it work is the varying motivations. You’re not following orders: People you know and friends of friends are asking you favors. It builds the sense that you’re in a living, breathing world.