January 23, 2013

Sleeping Dogs – First 30 Minutes (Part 1)

Sleeping Dogs is what happens when Square Enix finally decides to quit ruining Final Fantasy for a second to make a good game (that still isn’t Kingdom Hearts 3). This glorified interactive Hong Kong cop movie might be the perfect pastime while you wait for GTA V. I’m going to share with you guys my first hour of experience with this game.

Let me preface this by saying that the early parts of this game are very much on-rails and that a lot of exposition takes place during the first moments so I will try as much as I can to make this about the gameplay while still describing the game’s experience. I chose to make this story cover half an hour instead of 10 minutes because not enough happens in the first 10 minutes to talk about.

The game starts with some guys looking over a monitor watching a drug deal go down. A security guard shows up and calls the cops, and immediately I’m thrown into the action. I take control of a nameless thug character as he runs from the cops through a crowded San Francisco Chinatown harbor. The movement is very reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, only much more choppy and more context-sensitive. My character trucks over citizens while being knocked around by slabs of meat while running through a butcher shop. After about a minute of jumping over tables and dodging hunks of pork, the cops surround me and arrest me.

Your character, who is revealed to be named Wei Shen, is put into a Hong Kong jail where he reunites with a childhood friend named Jackie Ma. Jackie reveals to Wei that he’s involved in the Sun On Yee Triad, a dangerous Chinese gang. Jackie offers to get Wei involved right as they’re both pulled out into separate interrogation rooms. Wei is pulled into the interrogation room, and it is revealed that he is an undercover cop pretending to be a thug. Wei is given the mission to infiltrate the Soon On Yee Triad and take down their leader the Dragon Head, and then he’s sent on his way to wreak havoc upon Hong Kong. Later, Wei meets up with Jackie, who takes him to meet a girl he talks to. But the market they walk into belongs to a rival faction within the Soon On Yee and the two are ambushed. Now I received the first taste of combat within the game.

So this game works very much like the Batman: Arkham games with its freeflow combat style. Tapping X does a basic strike, which in conjunction with Holding X as a power strike, can pull together devastating combos. Y is used as a counter, and B can be used to grapple. After grappling you can beat your captive target to a pulp, judo throw him to the ground, or use the environment to perform special takedowns, like throwing a guy into a recycling box full of glass, or running his head into a cooling fan in the wall. The combat is much grittier, less flow-y and more realistic than its Batman counterpart. It’s very bloody, and the hits look, sound, and feel much more devastating. Not to mention you get to hear Wei making fun of the thugs as he bashes their heads in. It makes you feel like you’re just a skilled fighter fighting other guys, as compared to an overpowered superhero fighting nameless thugs. I think I like it.

Image Credit: Square Enix

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