There was once a game called True Crime: Hong Kong . It was in development at United Front Games but for some reason, Activision decided they would ditch the project. I say “some reason” because Square Enix has gone on record saying they don’t know why Activision didn’t want it, as the game looked to be in good shape. But although Square Enix got the game, they didn’t get the license, so it can’t be called “True Crime,” anymore. Instead, welcome in Sleeping Dogs .
It’s really only different in name, as this open-world action drama will be set in Hong Kong and will probably be familiar to True Crime fans. The story follows Wei Shen, who returns to his home with a burning desire to end the Triad control that has spread across the region. Based on what I’ve seen and heard of the environment, it seems Shen will be able to explore at will, talking to civilians and interacting with shop vendors. Of course, the streets aren’t exactly safe, especially for a guy who has just targeted one of the most infamous gangs in Asia.
You will accept missions as you progress and in truth, this seems a lot like Sega’s Yakuza franchise, in that you wander around a thriving, lively city, taking on objectives at your leisure. This is what sandbox gameplay is all about, after all. However, don’t think the developers will skimp on the storyline just because they’ve instituted some freedom; there appears to be a great deal of depth involved, especially in regards to the main character’s personality and overall purpose. The Yakuza games were strong on plot, too, and another similarity will come during the brawls with street gangs.
That’s because, just like Yakuza , we can use our environment to our advantage. It should be more dynamic in Sleeping Dogs , though, and the actual fighting mechanic should be more complex as well. You can slam a dude’s head off a wall, for instance, and we’ve heard tell there are some flashy finishing moves… These will also involve environmental interaction and if you need a break, if you’d like to branch out and try new things, you can always tackle side quests (called “Favors”) and unleash your anger and frustration in other ways.
In short, you’re looking at a game that focuses heavily on hand-to-hand combat, along with a healthy dose of third-person shooting and even driving elements. You may have seen Shen ripping around on a motorcycle, and it’ll be interesting to see how much we can influence the hero’s actions. He was a former criminal himself, so returning to a life of glitzy crime might be too much of a temptation. So far, all we’ve got is this bad-ass real-time trailer but if the game is half as intense, we figure United Front Games has a big-time winner on their hands.