The development cycle of Sleeping Dogs has seen its ups and downs. When Activision decided that it wouldn’t be publishing a game called True Crime: Hong Kong, developer United Front Games shopped the game around to other publishers. Eventually Square Enix picked it up, but they couldn’t use the True Crime name. Instead they went with the name Sleeping Dogs, creating an entirely new IP with the hopes of growing it into a franchise.
In Sleeping Dogs you play Detective Wei Shen of the Triad Bureau in the Hong Kong Police Department. In the scene I was able to preview, a member of the gang Wei Shen had infiltrated, Winston, was killed by what is thought to be a member of a rival gang. A mysterious man shows up telling Wei that the business money that went to Winston would now go to Mr. Big Smile Lee, the leader of a rival gang, Wei rejects the proposition. Without any kind of agreement in place, the club Wei is in gets attacked and that game hands control over to the player.
There is a lot of gunplay in Sleeping Dogs, and it shouldn’t be too surprising since it seems like everyone likes to wave their guns around in the trailer. While Wei has a large number of weapons in his arsenal, his biggest asset appears to be his ability to slow down time. This occurs when he is jumping from behind cover, and it will help give him the upper hand against enemies in this situation.
While shooting his guns, there appears to be some kind of experience point system. These points seem to be given for completing specific actions like getting a head shot, shooting out a tire on a moving car. While we don’t know if there is a specific combo system or if these experience points will be able to be used for something useful, it looks like you’ll want to cause some destruction with grace.
Wei also has an acrobatic side to him, as he has the ability to move quickly through the environment. While he can run, he has some parkour-like moves to him. He can leap from the second level to the first so he doesn’t have to use the stairs. Sliding over tables and car hoods becomes second nature as he pursues his enemy. Gates don’t slow him down either, as he quickly climbs up and over them with ease. It all flows very naturally, making the chase even more heart-pounding.
Running around on land may be a way for Wei to cover short distances, he may have to get behind the wheel to deal some damage as well. While there is a driving element to the game, in the action I saw Wei was sitting on the edge of the door while one of his gang members drove around. At times Wei needed to not only deal with the cars behind him, but also the cars in front of him as well. The vehicles did give a nice fireworks display when they were destroyed during the pursuit.
Be aware, though, this trip through Hong Kong isn’t for everyone. It’s a brutal look at the underbelly of the triad gangs, and there’s no doubt that the game will be rated M. The language alone ensures that, but the amount of blood spilled and the torturing for information will make even seasoned veterans a little squeamish. While the run has been bumpy for the developers, it looks like Square Enix will come out on top with an entertaining game when it is released on August 14th for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Edit: Added the E3 Video Trailer: