The Death and Rebirth of Sleeping Dogs
True Crime: Hong Kong is dead. Long live True Crime: Hong Kong.
Published: February 17, 2012
Setting and Ambiance
After one more cut scene, we get our first glimpse of actual gameplay. Winston Chu, the Red Pole that Wei's friend Jackie works for, is not pleased. A guy named Ming is refusing to pay his protection fee, having secured a better deal from a rival Red Pole. Naturally, Winston wants you to track Ming down and make an example out of him. Wei starts the mission inside the kitchen of a restaurant that Winston's operation uses as a front. He makes his way down the stairs and out the front door amidst the constant chatter of Cantonese. As he does, I make quick note of the clean, familiar interface, comprised of a rotating mini map in the lower left hand corner, flanked by a vertical meter on either side, one for health and another whose purpose I would discover later.
After a minute, Wei is out in the street, which is bustling with activity. Fireworks light up the night sky as people below, dressed in dragon outfits, dance about in what appears to be a ritualistic celebration of some sort. A tourist is bothering a street performer for a picture while pedestrians walk to and fro. Immediately, Honk Kong is established as a true setting, not just a background. As Wei continued to walk down the different streets and alleys, the cultural assault remained relentless with street dancers, sidewalk markets selling everything from noodles to electronics, and an endless stream of ambient urban noise that really sells the location perfectly. This is something that Sleeping Dogs nailed over and over during my time with it and is one of its greatest strengths.
After grabbing some grub at a food stand (which confers temporary bonuses depending on what you eat ) Wei speaks to a highlighted NPC who tells him where he can find the man he's looking for. Upon rounding the next corner you spot him but as soon as he sees you, he bolts and it's off to the races you go. Using the A button to sprint and mantle over obstacles (the demo was presented on a 360) you make your way through hectic intersections and side streets in hot pursuit of Ming. As Wei occasionally ran into pedestrians I noticed that they seemed to have actual weight and collision to them, slowing your pursuit in realistic ways rather than getting plowed over as if you had a force field in front of you. After wading through countless bystanders and making a couple of impressive jumps in cinematic style, Ming leads Wei into an ambush against several of his men, leading to our first taste of combat.