What do you get when you mix hardcore martial arts action with a gritty police drama? You get what was once called True Crime: Hong Kong and now goes by the title Sleeping Dogs , which was picked up by Square Enix after Activision passed on the publishing option. Right now, the game is looking like a blend of Yakuza and Stranglehold and if done correctly, it could turn out to be one of the most entertaining games of 2012.
You will play as Wei Shen, a police officer who returns to Hong Kong to go undercover and investigate the infamous Triad gang. To do so, you’ll have to play the faux role of a criminal, and that’s always a dicey situation when you’re talking about the Triads, who don’t take kindly to such transgressions. You will explore a fictional Hong Kong; the virtual environment is obviously smaller than the real metropolis, but developer United Front Games has worked hard to maintain the city’s singular style. So expect a lively, immersive, ever-changing landscape.
In terms of gameplay, it’s tough to categorize the action, as Shen will do a little of everything. It isn’t just about beating on thugs; as you may have already seen in some early footage, there will also be intense driving sections (the motorcycle part is pretty nuts), and some minor platforming should come into play as well. Those familiar with Assassin’s Creed may spot some similarities in the way Shen runs through the environment, dodging and leaping over obstacles. But of course, the hand-to-hand combat remains a central focus.
As was the case in Yakuza , Shen can use his surroundings to deal brutal damage and even execute flashy finishing moves. This includes impaling enemies on exposed sharp objects like meat hooks and slamming heads into car doors. Grabbing and grappling will be another main element in the fighting, as you’ll be able to drag foes to convenient positions whenever the situation calls for it. If you’re looking for rampant brutality and knuckle-crunching violence, I’m fairly certain you’ll find it in abundance in Sleeping Dogs . This should help you unwind after a tough day, right?
In fact, this game may be even gorier and bloodier than you might expect. We’ve already seen some wince-worthy examples of bone-crunching nastiness; there’s every chance that United Front will try to push the envelope. We just hope the control is solid and reliable. In a fast-paced adventure like this, we’re going to need split-second reflexes and our decisions must be sound. But it’s all for nothing if we have to fight a wonky camera and controls that aren’t responsive enough. If the fluidity and accessibility is there, though, this should be one wild ride.
Sleeping Dogs will get your adrenaline pumping on August 14.