By Neil Nisperos
For those who have ever dreamed of being in a Kung Fu movie or Hong Kong crime thriller, Square Enix’s new “Sleeping Dogs” offers that kind of experience, even if it is not a perfect sandbox game.
Sleeping Dogs allows players to explore the complex and labyrinthine environs of Hong Kong while assuming the role of Wei Shen. Shen is a fearless Hong Kong police officer who infiltrates a Hong Kong Triad criminal organization. Going undercover in the game’s version of Hong Kong means players enter a world of high-speed chases, shady business deals, shakedowns and bone-breaking beat downs.
Sleeping Dogs might never have come out if Square-Enix hadn’t snagged United Front Games’ latest project after Activision axed it. It was a bold move. The relatively young development house had only ModNation Racers to their name and they were working in territory urban sandbox specialists Rockstar and Volition called home. It wasn’t hard to see why Activision suddenly developed a case of cold feet over its prospects – even when some of UFG’s members had cut their teeth within those same studios. But then again, no one thought that Rocksteady could pull off as legendary a take on the Dark Knight not once – but twice – with about as much on their resume, either.
UFG’s crime drama takes players to Hong Kong as Wei Chen, an undercover cop on loan from the States working to bring down the Sun On Yee triad. Having grown up along the city’s rough and tumble side streets before his family moved to America, his early education with the swagger and bark of its worst before graduating grade school make him a valuable weapon to his new HKPD boss.