Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
- Street Date:
- October 14th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Mike Flacy
- Review Date:1
- October 12th, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox One
- Square Enix
- United Front Games
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
Digital Xbox One version reviewed. Portions of this review are shared with the review of the PS4 version of 'Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition.' The Video and Audio sections are Xbox One specific.
Back in 2012, there was a game that had all the makings of AAA bust. The spiritual successor of the 'True Crime' franchise, this was a game that had been batted around and was left twisting in the wind after Activision Blizzard axed its original incarnation, 'True Crime: Hong Kong.' Ultimately, Square Enix picked up the publishing rights to the series and 'Sleeping Dogs' was born. With the gritty underworld of Hong Kong as a backdrop, the game became a last-gen (and PC) hit. 'Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition', packages the core game with three main story DLC packs as well as over 20 DLC packs with additional vehicles, weapons and costumes. The new version also promises some light rebalancing and fixes as part of its new-gen polish. In addition, the release has been upgraded to native 1080p with the promise of a more robust, vibrant Hong Kong due the additional horsepower of the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
For those that haven’t played 2012’s 'Sleeping Dogs', it’s quite the underrated gem. I tackled it for the first time on the PC during 2013 after picking it up during a Steam sale, though at that time the last thing I thought was a future re-release. Back to the game, blending the gameplay styles of the Grand Theft Auto and Batman franchises, players take control of Wei Shen, an undercover police officer that’s attempting to climb the ranks within the Hong Kong criminal underworld. Shen walks a tight line between committing crimes for the Triads while supplying information covertly to his handlers within the Hong Kong Police Force. This power struggle continues throughout the game and makes for an excellent narrative. Plot pacing and character development are excellent, easily rivaling games released by developers like Rockstar and Naughty Dog.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is the character development system. Throughout the game, the player is awarded for completing tasks for the Triads and the police as well as finding jade statues for a former Kung Fu instructor. This translates into points that build up until reaching the next tier in the progression tree. The tree splits into two paths for each, thus I got to pick the skills that best supported my playing style. For instance, I preferred the upgrades to car skills, like cracking open a car with a Slim Jim, over the disarm skills in the police tree.
I also liked that the game heavily integrates collectables / tasks into the progression system. Want a permanent health boost? Hunt down all the health shines in the area. Want to unlock more skills in the police tree? Setup more drug busts by hacking into cameras. Want to buy some new threads to increase XP bonuses? Track down the various money packages hidden within the city. I’m something of a freak when it comes to hunting down collectibles, thus integrating the core game into my obsession gradually over time makes for a much more rewarding experience.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Visually, the 1080p Xbox One version of 'Sleeping Dogs' is a definite step up from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, namely due to what's happening in the background of the level design. Hong Kong feels more alive as the developer was able to crank up the weather effects and increase the number of cars and people traversing the city The city also seems more colorful, likely due to the neon lighting effects being amped up a bit.
Draw distance has significantly improved and character models look slightly better than the original, mostly due to the overall sharpness of the image. However, if you have a decent PC rig that's able to run the game on maximum detail, there's not a significant level of difference between the two versions. I also ran into the occasional framerate stutter when spinning the camera around Wei Shen's ride.
Speaking of the camera, I ran into situations where I had to spin the camera around to get a better angle than the default angle designated by the developer. Here's one example: There's a mission in 'Year of the Snake' where Wei Shen is attempting to track down a bomb-maker and the trail leads him into a fish processing plant. After the first couple rooms, Wei Shen runs into a small room with fish hanging up everywhere on hooks in the way of the camera. I found it impossible to fight the enemies effectively and attempted to goad the enemies out of the room to fight. Sadly, the enemies hit an invisible wall (tethering) which forced me to re-enter the room, spam the counter button and hope for the best.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Easily one of my favorite radio stations in any video game (even the GTA franchise), I could listen to Boosey & Hawkes for hours. I purposely change to that station in every single car that I hop into. The sheer chaos of a frantic car chase is balanced by the serene calmness of Bach’s Air on the G String. The same goes for Pavarotti belting out ‘La donna e mobile’ or Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. Classical music provides a simply amazing counter-balance to the insanity of action games. Beyond B&H, there are plenty of stations to choose from across a variety of music genres.
Regarding the voice work, nothing has changed from the original 2012 release. The voice cast is top notch featuring actors and actresses such as Tom Wilkinson (‘Batman Begins’, ‘Michael Clayton’), Kelly Hu (‘Warehouse 13’, ‘Phineas and Ferb’) and Will Yun Lee (‘The Wolverine’, ‘True Blood’). In addition, the mixture of English and Cantonese is extremely well balanced. It’s easy to keep track of what’s being said using the subtitles if you prefer the most authentic experience in the game. Regarding the directional audio, I couldn’t tell any difference between the base game on my PC and the Definitive Edition, both of which were running through an Onkyo 7.1 setup.
While somewhat silly and comedic at times, the DLC brings several hours of fun after completing the main campaign. My personal favorite was the narrative within 'Year of the Snake', namely because the events take place after the main game and give a bit of insight into what happened to Wei after everything was wrapped up. It’s pretty simple to invest more than handful of hours completing the 12 main missions in the DLC pack as well as all the additional side missions that have been added. In addition, playing the DLC pack will insert a new vehicle in the garage in the main game, a speedy police bike.
'Nightmare in North Point' is also interesting, but steps away from what made the core story so good in order to pursue a supernatural angle to the narrative. It also pales in comparison to 'Undead Nightmare' in Rockstar’s 'Red Dead Redemption', specifically because the story is weak and the atmosphere isn’t as convincing. It relies far too much on chase sequences, one of my least favorite mission types in the game. 'Zodiac Tournament', the third main story DLC pack, is also an interesting diversion for anyone that enjoys 70’s Kung Fu flicks, if not extremely short lived.
The biggest flaw of 'Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Editio'n isn’t really anything in the game itself, it’s the fact that Square Enix has priced the game at the same MSRP as brand new 2014 games, $59.99. At such a high MSRP, it doesn’t make any sense to upgrade to the Definitive Edition if you still own a previous generation console or a gaming PC. Heck, the base game was free for Xbox Live gold members during January 2014 and for PlayStation Plus members during May 2013. In addition, the base MSRP of the Definitive Edition on PC is half of the Xbox One edition, $29.99 (a price that will likely drop under $10 during the Steam Autumn Sale).
It feels like Square Enix lost an opportunity to encourage owners of the previous generation game to upgrade to the Definitive Edition. Anyway, I can only recommend this edition to gamers that only own an Xbox One or PS4 and never played the game on any other platform. If you are brand new to Sleeping Dogs, the Definitive Edition is the absolute best way to experience the game. In addition, look into preodering the physical disc edition rather than the digital edition. The disc edition comes with limited edition artbook packaging, a cool collection of concept art related to the game.
- LPCM 7.1
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