The Death and Rebirth of Sleeping Dogs
True Crime: Hong Kong is dead. Long live True Crime: Hong Kong.
Published: February 17, 2012
Story and Characters
Sleeping Dogs is the tale of Wei Shen, who after 15 years in America, has come home to Hong Kong to help the police topple a Triad gang known as the Sun On Yee. To do so, he'll have to go deep undercover, earning enough trust to join their ranks and expose them from within. The demo we were presented opened with Wei taking his first step across the line into enemy territory.
The first scene is set inside a prison in Hong Kong where Wei is posing as an inmate. Here, he runs into an old friend named Jackie Ma. Jackie hasn't seen him since he moved to America 15 years prior and is clearly surprised and elated to cross paths with him again. After a short bout of reminiscing, Wei learns that several of their old friends have risen to the rank of “Red Pole”, the enforcer lieutenants of the Triad organization. As it turns out, Jackie works closely with one of them and needs some help with a few jobs they have coming up. Seeing an opportunity, Wei offers to help once they are both out of jail.
The scene that follows has Wei reporting to his superior officer and his handler to inform them that he's made contact with Jackie. Both scenes featured cinematography, writing, and acting of a caliber well above the bar that's been set by other open world games. While it's hard to tell how much depth the characters will end up having from such a brief look, each of them seemed refreshingly believable compared to the casts found in other titles likeGrand Theft Auto 4. While that game had a believable protagonist in Nico Belic, he was surrounded by a pack of broadly drawn caricatures who seemed like Saturday morning cartoon fodder by comparison. So far, the characters in Sleeping Dogs all feel as if they could plausibly exist in the real world. That grounded sense of authenticity really helps lend credibility to the graphic, over the top violence the game inevitably erupts into. Of course, we have to see where the writers end up taking it, but at the very least, I can say that if I were flipping channels on my TV and came across Sleeping Dogs, I would keep watching. That's more than I can say for a lot of games on store shelves right now.