I'd like to think that somewhere in Activision's head offices there's a bigwig who never plays games sweating over his keyboard as he frantically types words like 'portfolio', 'demographic' and 'marketshare' in an email with the subject line 'Why Activision sold off Sleeping Dogs'.
It's difficult to say because we won't have a clear picture of how it's done sales-wise for a little while yet. Looking at the finished product, though, it's a mysterious decision. Topping the UK charts
seems like a good start to the scenario though, doesn't it? Sleeping Dogs
isn't quite about to reset your notion of what open world gaming is all about, but it is
Earlier in its life, of course, Sleeping Dogs
was True Crime: Hong Kong
? a sequel to the tepidly-reviewed True Crime: New York City
. Activision, in its wisdom, decided that as it didn't have 'Call of Duty' in the title or a peripheral in the box it wasn't going to sell, and so it was cast to the wayside until Square Enix picked it up, dusted it off and slapped its current name on the opening credits.
The formula's pretty familiar to anyone who's played Grand Theft Auto
, Saints Row
or, indeed, the True Crime
games. You get a sizeable open world, plenty of vehicles to drive around it at your leisure and crimes to commit.
In Sleeping Dogs
, however, you play undercover cop Wei Shen ? a US cop seconded to the Hong Kong police force to infiltrate the Triad in the town he grew up in. Cue a push and pull between the forces of law and order and the Kung-Fu-ridden world of Hong Kong crime.
It's a nice plot device that gives you the moral satisfaction of being the 'good guy' along with the visceral thrill of stealing vehicles at random and driving them through parking meters. (Interestingly, while you lose cop points for property damage and hurting civilians, developer United Front has evidently just held up its hands and said 'you're just going to
steal cars. There's nothing for it, we're just going to leave the penalties out of that one').
If Sleeping Dogs
has a unique selling point beyond the fact you're running round Hong Kong instead of an American city, it's the combat. Because, as was mentioned less than a moment ago, this is Hong Kong. It's all about Kung-Fu. Yes, there is a bit of gunplay thrown in, but the emphasis is squarely on hand-to-hand combat. And not the traditional combat you get in the likes of Yakuza
The system in place is a mash-up between the context-sensitive rhythmic combat popularised by Batman: Arkham Asylum
and more traditional combo-based button bashing. As in the Batman
games, timing is everything. Get into the flow of things and strike at the exact right moment and you'll do well. Try to brute force your way through a confrontation and you'll get your head kicked in.