Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The 52-Week Challenge - Game 1 - Sleeping Dogs

The 52-Week Challenge is something I came up with when thinking of a new way to update this little blog. The way I was doing things before took a fair amount of work and time that I cannot spare so much anymore. The challenge is simply to beat 52 games in 52 weeks, ending on 1st April 2014. Each game will be given a quick 'review', though I will probably post anything interesting I think of while playing the game. I have other ideas, but they can wait for now. So, let's begin.

Sleeping Dogs

Developers: United Front Games
Publisher: Square-Enix
Year Released: 2012
Console: PS3, 360, PC

Sleeping Dogs almost never happened. Playing through the game I simply cannot see how Activision had pulled the plug. The story was that it was going to be a new entry in the True Crime series, but Activision didn't think it would bring in a big enough profit. Square-Enix stepped in, helped to complete the game and then published it. It sold nearly 1.75 million copies. It should be more than that because this game is absolutely fantastic.

I actually bought the game when it first came out, played it for a couple of hours and while I liked it, I barely touched it and eventually traded it in. A couple of months ago it was one of the free games on Playstation Plus, so I decided I might as well download it. It took another month for me to give it another try, and this time I was hooked. This game is easily one of the best open-world games of this generation. It found a nice balance between the bleakness of GTA IV and the silliness of Saint's Row so it never delves too far in either direction. Another Square-Enix published game you could compare it to would be Just Cause 2 which was fun as hell - though the map was too massive which made trying to 100% it a near impossibility. Sleeping Dogs has a good variety of activities to do while having a good sized map that you can easily navigate. It helps that the reconstructed Hong Kong is so visually stunning, especially at night, that driving place to place rarely feels like a chore.

The driving is fun too, some of the developers were former employees of Black Box, who have made several Need for Speed games, so the high quality of the driving is no real surprise. Motorbikes in Sleeping Dogs are a joy to ride, I never seem to be forced off them as much as I do in other games.

However, the bread and butter of the game comes from the combat and it is awesome. It is the only game I can think of where being forced into a firefight is a disappointment, as the melee combat is one of the best in any game I've ever played. It is similar to the Batman: Arkham games, but with the addition of environmental attacks. If you grapple someone, some objects will glow red. Just drag them over and you can perform an, often brutal, attack that immediately knocks them out. Some of them are enough to make even the most desensitised gamer wince. Gunfights are good, but it is a lot more satisfying to beat them up and throw their head into a fan or a pallet of swordfish heads.

The story of the game is rather good too, it was designed to be a tribute to Asian crime films. You are Wei Shen, an undercover cop infiltrating the triad group 'Sun On Yee', which seems to be heading towards a civil war due to tensions rising between a couple of the 'red poles' (leaders). The characters are pretty well written and they do well to make you almost sympathise with some of the Triads - one character, Jackie Ma, you're left rooting for by the end of the game.

Do I recommend getting this game? Yes, definitely. It's probably available for fairly cheap these days, and on it's occasionally on sale on Steam (it's PC version is meant to be pretty good). It is worth every penny.

Taken From: Sleeping Dogs Wiki
Now, like all things, I don't like making decisions myself. So, I went to my trusty Backloggery to pick the next game for me. It picked well...if I didn't have to try completing it in a week...

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