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Sleeping Dogs Preview (PS3)

June 14, 2012 Written by Alex Osborn

United Front Games’ Sleeping Dogs was one of the biggest surprises for me at E3. Formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong, this open-world action game was kicked to the curb by Activision before being picked up by Square Enix. I must admit, I was pretty skeptical towards the title, as changing publishers and re-branding a game isn’t typically a good sign. However, that all changed the moment I got my hands on Sleeping Dogs, as the game’s engrossing atmosphere and addictive combat had me glued to the controller.

The demo that I played had me chasing down a particular target of interest, and without getting too deep into story specifics, he did something to tick off my boss and I needed to rough him up pretty bad. Once I managed to spot my prey, things quickly turned into a chase on foot throughout the streets of Hong Kong. It’s clear that the development team poured a lot of time and energy into really fleshing out the game world, as the level of detail embedded within this particular environment was astounding. I haven’t been to Hong Kong personally, but I’m sure those familiar with the area would agree that this game perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of this hallmark Chinese hotspot.

You play as Detective Wei Shen, an undercover cop assigned to bring down a Triad organization, so it goes without saying that Sleeping Dogs is a pretty dark and brutal game. United Front Games perfectly nails the tone, as the various cutscenes that broke up the gameplay had me invested in the characters and the conflict that plagued the city’s streets.

When I finally managed to catch up to the perpetrator, things immediately turned into a fight for survival, as a group of the bad guy’s buddies encircled me like a pack of hungry wolves. With my two fists as primary weapons, I managed to methodically take down each of the hostiles, utilizing a combat system strikingly similar to Batman: Arkham City, which is hardly a bad thing. Perfectly timed counters were incredibly satisfying, and the way the game makes us of the environment in contextually specific ways was quite impressive.

I had an absolute blast playing through a short section of Sleeping Dogs and can’t wait to play more of it when it finally hits store shelves. The controls are tight and responsive, the story and characters have been carefully crafted, and the visual design is jaw-dropping. If you’re looking for a quality third-person action game filled with mature themes, crime and thrilling gameplay, you’ve only got a few months of waiting left to do, as Sleeping Dogs is set to launch this August.