Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PC)
ESRB rating: Mature
Review rating: 4.0 stars
Activision's "True Crime" series was fun, but it never emerged from the shadows cast by bigger and better games like "GTA" and "Saint's Row." Now Square Enix has revived the dying series under the name "Sleeping Dogs," and just like the fabled phoenix, it has become bigger and better than it ever was!
Players assume the role of undercover cop Wei Shen, whose worldly experience is needed to eliminate the Triads from Hong Kong. To do this, Shen must go undercover and investigate the dirty subculture of the city. While getting his hands dirty as a typical thug, Shen becomes increasingly embroiled in the seedy underworld, and his loyalties come into question. It's up to the player to decide which direction Shen will follow.
I love how players aren't punished for making good or bad decisions. Instead, they simply get to customize their character however they choose. The unusual leveling system lets players build experience points in three areas: Cop, Triad and Face. Points are gained in Cop by doing good deeds and following the law, which net deadly new gunplay abilities. Triad points are gained by breaking the law and making brutal kills, and this results in handy new melee skills. Lastly, Face points are gained through reputation with Hong Kong citizens, and they give players access to cool cars and stylish clothes.
Gamers looking for an open-world title that actually features sweet kung-fu combat will be thrilled with the combat system found in this game. It's possible to throw numerous different attacks as well as performing blocks and various counters. Additional variety comes from using weapons like knives and pipes and also using environmental objects such as tables and trash dumpsters. A useful cover-based shooter system is also available that works fine, but it pales in comparison to the awesome hand-to-hand combat.
My biggest complaint is the unpredictable camera system, but that isn't enough to make "Sleeping Dogs" sleep with the fishes!