Sleeping Dogs or Pork Buns for Life

The fine Asian treat called Sleeping Dogs stuns your senses (especially when accompanied by a pork bun). For many good reasons.

Number one: Activision are retards. Shunning a game (called True Crime Hong Kong back then) just cause it might only sell some 100.000 copies when instead focussing on that outworn RPG light WoW stuff (now bigger and better with pandas) and that patriotic popcorn series Call of Duty … what about innovation, folks? What about risk? Establishing a new series is seen as incredibly hard these days, but even now, it can work (look at Borderlands, Just Cause, Dragon’s Dogma etc.) – so Activision, it stuns Rabidgames to see how pathetic you have become. Mind you, Sleeping Dogs isn’t the first instance where Activision got it wrong: let’s not forget the brilliant Brütal Legend!

Number two: If you expect something like a GTA clone in Asia, you’re wrong. Sure, there’ s shooting in Sleeping Dogs, there are car chases, and it’s an urban open world. But that’s about it. The pace is completely different (there are entire missions without any form of violence), the world feels different, and the fighting couldn’t be more different: If you insist bringing up GTA, Sleeping Dogs is a distant relative because of some shared genetic traits – and yet, if you look for parents, it is quite likely the Yakuza series would not be able to prove its innocence in a paternity test, while the last two Batman games might be the caring mother (or the other way round, whatever disturbs you less). Why? While the shoot-melee ratio in GTA might be 39-1, it is 2-7 in Sleeping Dogs. Plus, if you’re tired of New fucking York, or of another generic American city, Sleeping Dogs is a welcome relief. Hong Kong feels different (not only because of the left-way traffic),

Number three: If GTA is a Scorcese movie (which it is not) Sleeping Dogs is a John Woo movie (which it is). Again, don’t expect a rags to riches story, don’t expect the sometimes subtle satire which made GTA great. If you like the hand to hand combat in Hong Kong flicks, if you like classic slow-mo Woo shoot-outs, you’ll like Sleeping Dogs. Actually, if you enjoyed Hard Boiled or Infernal Affairs (and yes, the original is better than the westernised Departed), this is your game. So yes, Sleeping Dogs IS different. Of course, if you still insist on it being a mere GTA clone because of an open world, fighting and crime, you might say The Godfather and Lethal Weapon are basically the same, too …

Number four: Sleeping Dogs is fun. It is light-hearted and yet grimy fun. Not a violent buddy sim like GTA IV, and not over-the-top like San Andreas or Saints Row, Sleeping Dogs sits somewhere in the middle, keeping a straight face while delving into the triad underworld. But it also gives its competitors a lesson to learn – variety is the key. If you showcase a diverse mix of melee fighting, including hilariously gruesome environmental fatalities, driving and racing, placing bugs or activating cameras, shooting and the odd just go somewhere without violence mission – Sleeping Dogs pulls it of. Granted, the races are rather boring and the shoot-outs happen a tad too often in the last quarter of the game, but the overall pace of Sleeping Dogs is spot-on.

Number five: Where many games fail, Sleeping Dogs nails it. Yes, Rabidgames is talking about the story. Even after you beat the final boss, it keeps unfolding – and leaves you guessing what really happened. While the game also has problems to show Wei Shen’s twisted loyalties during the campaign, it becomes even more puzzling afterwards. In hindsight, it makes you wonder who was the puppet and who was directing the strings.

However, there is some dog poo in the game as well. The racing missions tend to be a matter of the right vehicle – if it’s faster than the others, you win automatically. If you go there with the wrong vehicle, you’re fucked. Another aspect where Sleeping Dogs doesn’t deliver is some side characters, especially the girlfriends – they’re there for 2 missions, and then, they vanish (some return 10 hours later but you might have forgotten them by then). Yes, there are some explanations in Wei’s phone but it does not feel satisfactory.

Rabidgames bows his head: Sleeping Dogs is a refreshing Asian dish with the exact amount of exotic spices. True, some ingredients could have been more refined, but for a new opening, Sleeping Dogs has broadly delivered.Enjoy your pork buns.

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