Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Sleeping Dogs was one of my favourite games from last gen. It was a slick and entertaining open-world action game with a likable protagonist and addicting story. Not only that, but I felt that each and every single side activity was rewarding and fun – nothing was pointless. The cherry on top was the brilliant soundtrack which included artists like Machine Head, Kasabian, Duran Duran, Queen as well as up and coming Asian rappers and electronic artists.
So what makes ‘Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition’ the ultimate edition of this already near-perfect game? A lot, actually. United Front Games, having developed the original release, realised what the power of the Xbox One and PS4 can bring to a title like Sleeping Dogs, upgrading the game’s graphics and frame rate, but also adding new animation frames as well as a few crucial changes such as improved vehicle handling and reworked combat. This is the definitive edition of Sleeping Dogs and absolutely everyone who loves open-world action games should play it.
Sleeping Dogs: DE sees players assume the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop who is set to infiltrate one of China’s most dangerous Triads, the “Sun On Yee”. Having grown up with a number of Sun On Yee, Wei Shen has the opportunity to win over Winston, one of the Sun On Yee’s Red Poles (a lieutenant or enforcer of the Triad’s rules) and take down the triad once and for all. He’ll have his work cut out for him, as he must convince the Triads and the Hong Kong police of his loyalty, but as relationships develop and trust is forged, where does his loyalty truly lie?
Similar to games like Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto V, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is an open-world game, meaning you can go anywhere and do just about anything in a massive realistic environment. The city of Hong Kong truly looks amazing, and looks even better in the Definitive Edition thanks to United Front’s clever use of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s power. There are now much more pedestrians and people wandering the streets, as well as a huge increase in the amount of neon signs and advertising in the environment, something that would have killed the performance of the game on the last-gen version. The Definitive Edition also shares the PC version’s gorgeous HD Texture Pack and reworked lighting to give the game more dynamic colours and contrast. While some of the character models could have used a slight upgrade, the game’s huge environment and lighting in the Definitive Edition is absolutely superb and it runs at 1080p and 60 frames per second!
One of the major draw cards in Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is that it’s a crime game that doesn’t overly rely on firearms and cover-based shooting for its action. Yes, there is plenty of it in the game, but more often than not you’ll find yourself engaging in massive Kung Fu brawls that look like they come straight out of a Donnie Yen movie (that means they’re amazing). Wei Shen can attack his foes with a variety of combos and counters, but he can also utilise the environment as well. Payphones, air vents, walls, garbage dumpsters and other items can be used to quickly disable your enemies – some of these environment attacks will see the player (you, not Wei) recoil in shock as Sleeping Dogs can be quite brutal.
In addition to amazing combat, there’s also a healthy amount of collectibles and side activities to find in Hong Kong. These aren’t compulsory and you are welcome to simply play the main story if you wish, which is much better than other open-world games that force attempt to bludgeon you over the head with their world’s richness. There’s “Cop Jobs”, where Wei Shen assists the Hong Kong PD in a number of random police operations, Drug Busts, Street Races, Fight Clubs and even Cock Fights (betting on chickens fighting). Sleeping Dogs: DE activities feel like a breath of fresh air compared to other open-world games, which usually offer the same side activities as each other without much variation.
If you do somehow feel like a break from the amazing Kung Fu or main story, the Definitive Edition comes a plethora of DLC that was released after the original release of Sleeping Dogs, including different outfits for Wei that yield specific perks and two additional campaigns. The Nightmare in North Point DLC sees Wei learning Chinese magic in order to combat the forces of hell, and the Year of the Snake DLC is set almost immediately after the main campaign, where Wei has to thwart the plans of an evil cult that wish to bring about the apocalypse on New Year’s Eve.
- Brilliant story.
- The best open-world combat yet. Yes, even better than Batman: Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed.
- Stellar soundtrack.
- Some character models and textures still look last-gen, which makes them stand out in a bad way.
One of the best and most underrated action games last generation, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is well worth checking out if you’re yet to experience its unique take on the open-world crime subgenre. I myself am having a blast replaying through it all over again, but experienced players may find that $89.95 (RRP) is a bit steep to replay a game.