The honest truth is that I still feel thankful towards Square Enix for their work in bringing True Crime: Hong Kong (aka Sleeping Dogs) out of development Hell and onto last-generation consoles. It’s a game that I had been keeping my eye on and hoping to play, so when I first heard that Activision had canned it, I was bummed. Then, when I later heard that Tomb Raider‘s parents had swooped in to save the day, I was overjoyed.
Sleeping Dogs ended up being a fantastic game. It was exotic, but had the familiar tropes found in Grand Theft Auto-style games set here in North America. Sure, driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road took some getting used to, but it didn’t take too long. Being away from the hustling, bustling and downright repetitive locales of New York City, Los Angeles and the like came as a nice change, too. The game had a lot going for it before it even released, and it thankfully delivered in spades. I simply loved it, as you may have noted while reading my full review.
Fast-forward to today, and we’re about to see a more vibrant version of the sandbox action game hit store shelves and digital marketplaces, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. It’ll be titled Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, which is an appropriate yet somewhat dull subtitle.
As mentioned above, Sleeping Dogs is the tale of Wei Shen, an undercover detective who’s working for the Hong Kong police department. Having moved back to China after time spent in the United States of America, following his sister’s death, he’s returned as the perfect undercover cop. That’s because, not only does he have police training, but he’s a badass martial artist and, most importantly, grew up with some of the Sun on Yee gang’s higher-ups.
The core gameplay found here is a mix between Grand Theft Auto and Batman, and it works perfectly. You’ll cruise around Hong Kong, shooting guns, stealing vehicles and doing side quests, but when it comes to important combat scenes, you’ll fight man0-y-mano. Fists fly, and Wei’s martial arts training really comes into play here, employing a familiar system where indicators show when enemies are about to attack so that the player can quickly counter. It’s a lot of fun and works extremely well in practice, especially since you can use environmental items like vents and phone booths to add that extra whallop.
Along the way, you’ll solve cases and complete story-based missions, which progress a thoroughly interesting storyline that is full of cool characters. Food and clothing can also be purchased from street vendors, which adds a lot of immersion to a visceral, lively and revamped representation of Hong Kong.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is just that. It’s simply a visually upgraded and enhanced version of the game, which comes with all of its previously-released downloadable content. That means you’ll get bonus clothing items, as well as story-based add-ons like Nightmare in North Point and Year of the Snake, not to mention a karate tournament. It’s a package that is filled to the proverbial brim with quality gameplay (although Nightmare in North Point is a bit lacking if you ask me), but there’s nothing new outside of the noted visual and performance upgrades.
It’s evident that the jump to current-gen (or next-gen, if you will) has made Hong Kong a more lively, neon-clad town. As such, this Definitive Edition is beautiful, has larger crowds and features improved effects. For example, the way that rain pools on the street is an impressive sight to behold and a realistic one at that. Furthermore, the amount of neon lighting found within has been increased, and it shows. Of course, the characters’ models have also been made better, and there’s little to complain about there. You’ll still see hints of last-gen, but that’s fine given that this isn’t a newly-developed title and is, instead, a remaster.
There have been reports of performance issues on consoles, and I can attest to experiencing slight framerate hiccups from time to time. However, none of what I encountered really marred the game or my time with it. United Front Games will want to try to patch this issue, though, because it’s noticeable in certain cutscenes, as well as during gameplay.
The audio is still great, and there are, once again, a bunch of quality radio stations to listen to. Also, I was originally impressed by the voice acting and scope of the game, as well as its writing, and those things are still very solid this second time around. I also dig being able to listen to heavy metal while speeding around Hong Kong.
At $59.99, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition will be a pricey upgrade for those who’ve already played the game through once, either after purchasing it to begin with, or getting it for free through Xbox Live’s Games With Gold program. Still, it’s worth the upgrade if you enjoyed your time with the game and is a must-buy for newcomers who’ve yet to enjoy this rich, must-play experience. This may just be the “everything but the kitchen sink” version of the game, but it’s still great nonetheless.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is the best way to experience one of the better games from the last-generation of consoles.