Sleeping Dogs Hands-On Preview

Sleeping Dogs has had an arduous journey throughout its development. It began as “True Crime: Hong Kong” and was to be the third installment in the series. Then Activision cancelled it. Then Square Enix picked it back up. And now, in collaboration with United Front Games, the game has been renamed and salvaged from the ashes, bloody and hardened.

The playable demo of the game at PAX East embodies the game’s troubled history. We play as Wei Shen, a cop working undercover with the Triads, in the neon underground of Hong Kong. Wei’s looking for a man named Wing who owes money to a Triad boss. With that motivation, players are unleashed into a suffocating, bleak city. Vendors’ inaudible chants bounce off the corners of the streets, echoing unclear solicitation. Flashdancers congregate, fireworks whistle,  and  Wei shifts through the crowd. He’s immediate and direct.

Running into Ming initiates a chase sequence. Tapping “A” at the correct moment executes an environmental action – jumping tables, leaping up walls – that maintains Wei’s impressive momentum. As Ming tossed people obstacles, Wei just as easily juked and wove through the pedestrian maze. That is, until Ming ran into some friends behind a locked door.

Sleeping Dogs

The combat is, at this stage in gaming, broken in. Like Arkham City and the Assassin’s Creed series, Sleeping Dogs pits you against the many, constantly tapping “A” to strike and advance, and occasionally hitting “Y” to counter. Sleeping Dogs does it well, but what makes it stand out are the brutal environmental kills. After grappling an enemy, several surrounding objects alight: vents, electrical boxes, the side of a wall. With ease, Wei brings his struggling foe over to one of these objects and performs a visceral execution.

In a later sequence, Wei awakes in a building under construction tied to a chair. His captors proceed to beat and torture him (again, with excruciating force) until he passes back out. When we awake again, we manage to fall to the floor, crawl over to a nearby handsaw and cut our ropes.  The guards hear, enter, and more fighting begins.

Enemies down (environmental kills, brutality, table saws chopping peoples’ faces off), Wei begins his  shirtless decent from the unfinished building. Without elevators or completed stairs, he’s forced to use shaky scaffolding. Eventually it gives way, setting up some gorgeous slow-mo leaps.  Without shoes or a shirt, we continue downward, making John McClane proud.

Sleeping Dogs’ is coming to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2012.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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