Sleeping Dogs was something of a surprise hit when it was released last gen. This True Crime game without the official moniker offered many of the typical things you’d expect from an open-world game – cop drama, guns, cars, dates, seedy mafia (well, the Triads specifically) dealings, etc – but also threw in fancy Hong Kong action movie stuff like slow motion diving over tables while shooting and a (at the time) rather comprehensive combat system.
Now we’ve got Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, which promises the classic Sleeping Dogs experience but with some new super-duper visuals, the inclusion of what was once bonus DLC content, and a few gameplay tweaks. So in short, it’s Sleeping Dogs but it looks a bit fancier.
Wei Shen is an undercover cop (but *sssshhhhhhhh* don’t tell anyone) working his way through the infamous Triads, both because it’s his duty as an officer of the law and because he’s got a personal vendetta against the gang involving his now-deceased mother and sister. But some of these violent mobsters seem like decent folks. What’s an undercover cop with questionable motives to do?
If you’ve played just about any modern day open-world game that doesn’t involve mutants, zombies, monsters, superpowers, etc, then you’ve got the basic idea behind Sleeping Dogs. There are a ton of collectibles to track down and activities to partake in, lots of regular missions to keep you on-track, car radio stations, karaoke, street brawls, and so on. And it all looks the best it’s ever looked in this new edition, what with all the spiffed-up textures and visual effects.
The thing is, the more I played Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition the more I began to remember why I stopped playing the regular version of the previous generation. It’s an open-world game, and as such it’s prone to many of the same pitfalls the rest of them are. This means the more than occasional glitch – Wei showing up on a CC monitor, awkwardly hunched over, looking into a seedy back alley when he’s actually watching from his apartment in a completely different section of Hong Kong is just one example. It also means things can start to get repetitive and dull.
I will admit that it looks darned good for a last gen game ported to a current gen system. The lighting looks great, the rain effects (specifically the puddles on the ground) are fantastic, important characters have been upgraded, and there are additional environmental effects and breakables that smash real good when you shove a goons face through them. Unfortunately the other stuff, like the animations, seem about the same. The fighting still looks great, don’t get me wrong, but the background characters and nameless shop owners still look as awkward as ever.
Oddly enough I found myself far more enthralled with the separate extra content that was previously DLC. Both the Year of the Snake and Nightmare at North Point are a bit sillier than the main story (especially North Point, what with the jiangshi/Chinese vampires), but the game actually shines a whole lot more when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. They’re more focused than the campaign as well, which kept me interested with a lot more regularity. Then again, perhaps I’m just sick of having to trudge through overly long missions that only serve to teach players how to perform yet another side mission/task.
The real question is, should people buy Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition? I’d say if they’re fans of the original and don’t mind playing through it again (but this time with higher-definition high-definition graphics!), then absolutely. It looks great, and most of the DLC has been incorporated with the campaign – except for Year of the Snake and Nightmare at North Point, of course. And someone who enjoyed the first game but never had the chance to check out the DLC will probably have a blast as well. However, it’s hardly ‘new’ and with a certain other open-world crime drama going remastered/definitive/whatever on the horizon it’s probably not going to have much staying power.