Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is developed by United Front Games and published by Square Enix. We enjoyed the Xbox 360 version of the game back in 2012 and have been spending time with the newly upgraded Xbox One version to see if it’s worth your time and money.
The Definitive Edition of Sleeping Dogs give you the same game that was released on the previous generation of consoles. However it brings with it a whole load of improvements to try and make it worth picking up again. The most obvious improvement is in the graphics which have been given a boost thanks to improved draw distance, higher resolution, textures, lighting and particle effects.
The game looks better than ever and the improvements don’t stop there. Character models have been given more detail and the world feels more alive thanks to more pedestrians and increased traffic density. Combat also benefits from more destructible objects in the environment. Even the sound engine has been rebuilt to give a more realistic experience.
Sleeping Dogs brings a similar sandbox setup to the Grand Theft Auto games so if you’re a GTA fan then you’ll feel right at home. The story is strong and set in Hong Kong where you play as Wei Shen, an undercover detective, who is tasked with infiltrating a Triad gang. You start out at the bottom and slowly make your way up through the ranks. As you do you earn experience based on your behaviour which basically boils down to Cop XP for good deeds or Triad XP for negative actions. As your experience rises you earn points to spend on Cop or Triad upgrades which grant new moves and abilities.
It’s an interesting levelling system and how you play is up to you. The best thing is that you can mix up your play styles and aren’t forced to take a single path. There is also a third experience system called Face which represents how the citizens of Hong Kong view you. Helping out the locals increases Face which eventually turns into enhancements such as more health from food and drink or discount on cars and clothes.
Movement around the world is very fluid as it utilises a Parkour style. Tapping the A button makes Wei effortlessly jump, vault and climb obstacles. The driving mechanics are excellent with a very satisfying arcade feel. It’s possible to shoot out of windows while driving and you can even jump to another vehicle to steal it. The biggest issue with movement is that the camera can be a little unwieldy at times.
The melee combat remains as tough as ever with a countering system plucked right out of Batman: Arkham City and the Assassin’s Creed titles. This type of combat system allows you to take on multiple opponents at once and Sleeping Dogs features a large variety of punch and kick combos as well as grappling and environmental take-down moves. These are incredibly brutal but also very entertaining as Wei impales an enemy onto a Swordfish or smashes their head into an air conditioning fan.
Around the world are hundreds of collectibles to hunt down and keep you busy. There are Jade statues, health shrines, lock boxes and cameras to hack. Collecting Jade statues unlock upgrades on your melee combat tree. Every five health shrines you pray at grants you a 10% health boost. Lock boxes contain cash, weapons and sometimes clothing.
While Sleeping Dogs is a single player game it does have online functionality in the form of leaderboards. These give you a global ranking for everything you do in the game but the real draw is the competition they encourage with your friends. Every player has their own Social Log which documents their actions. Everything is tracked from your combat prowess to number of kills and even driving ability. There are stat games to track things like longest car or bike jumps, number of pedestrians you’ve run over in a row or how long you can stay on the run from the police. Finally it also tracks mission scores and you can retry missions right from the Social Hub.
The original game received heavy post-release support in the form of DLC. The Definitive Edition actually includes it all and integrates most of it into the main game. The two bigger packs, Nightmare in North Point and Year of the Snake, must be launched from the main menu. If you missed out on the DLC first time around then this is a great excuse to revisit the game.
Sleeping Dogs is a whole lot of fun and we highly recommend the Definitive Edition to those that missed the game first time around. If you’ve already played it to death then there’s little reason to revisit it unless you haven’t played the DLC.