It's time for another press-event and this time we're checking out the upcoming game "Sleeping Dogs". A game that has been in and out of production since way back, well at least since around 2009 when Activision announced that the game was being developed.
Sleeping Dogs is kind of a sequel in the "True Crime" series. It all started with a bad sales record for the previous version "True Crime – New York City", which made the upcoming game named "True Crime" hit a brick wall.
In 2009, Activision announced through a trailer that together with their new developer United Front Games they will finally continue the series. Although, in mid 2010 they announced that the game would be delayed, because they wanted to give the developers some more time, a new release would be sometime 2011. In the beginning of 2011 they once again announced that the game was cancelled, with the stupid comment that "…True Crime couldn't reach the top of the open-world genre".
A game certainly doesn't have to be the best to be released, just check out several other games. It's not exactly the same kind of game or situation, but Minecraft was more or less nothing when people started to pay for the game.
Sure, if a game doesn't sell well enough it will surely be hard to pay out salaries to the developers. But if a game sells just below (probably) a set amount of copies, it doesn't have to mean that the players have lost their interest in the game. It could be that people had less money, pirated more games, wasn't interested in that genre at the time or something else.
Anyhow, enough talk about the past. Activision finally sold out the publishing rights and it was picked up by Square Enix Studios which will continue to work with United Front Games. The game has however been renamed to Sleeping Dogs as they didn't purchase the series name "True Crime", so while it's a brand new name, it is kind of a sequel to the True Crime series.
Well, lots of history there, but let's have a look on the meeting we had a week back. We got an invitation to check out Sleeping Dogs as well as meet Gareth Ramsay, Global Communications Manager at Square Enix.
Gareth's goal this day was to sell Sleeping Dogs to us and we bought it with all the details. For those new to the game and all the history about it, if you have played one of the latest games in the Grand Theft Auto series, you will surely know how to play Sleeping Dogs.
The game is an open-world "sandbox" type in which you get to run around a whole city, with a Hong Kong theme. The scenery isn't exactly the same as the city itself, but you can see some landmarks and you also get the feel of being in Hong Kong. Narrow streets, washing lines hanging between buildings and the small street shops aim to look like the poor areas in Hong Kong, while we also see later on in the game some business areas and there will surely be other types of content from Hong Kong as well.
You start out as Wei Chen, a police that works under cover. We get to meet some friends, family and relatives that he will help and work with during his missions in the city. His work as an undercover police comes down to infiltrating the triad organization Sun On Yee.
From the start there are shorter and easier tasks that you need to complete, later on there will be more complex and interesting missions where you need to travel around the city to complete anything and everything you get your hands on, all to gain in ranks within the triad organization.
Further details that make it feel like a GTA game is that you can run around on foot, carry guns of all sorts and shoot down anyone and anything you'd like. You can also pick up any car that you want on the street and the driving feel was great, very much like GTA with lots of realism built into the physics of the cars.
If you find yourself out of ammo you can of course also use your fists and feet if that is your thing. The fighting system comes partly from the earlier Batman games and it is easy to handle and use, especially for someone used to PC only the Xbox 360 version was incredibly easy to handle. One enormous plus for the game and the United Front Games studio is that they will release the game for all three major platforms; PC, Xbox and Playstation. Great work!
When you fight a single enemy, it is quite easy to see and understand what you can and need to do. You can fight with your fists, kick with your feet or grab the enemy for a special attack that for now can be to throw them into a wall, over a ledge or through a window. Furthermore you can push their head into a ventilation fan or smash their head onto a barbeque grill until they catch fire. If they for some reason would resist in letting you do so, you can "struggle" with them until they obey your orders. As you can imagine, this game won't be released to younglings less than 18 years of age.
When there's a whole group of enemies that wants to give you the ride of your life the combat system works incredibly well, when you fight one of the enemies the others more or less waits for their turn, but if you feel that you would like to swing around and kick another enemy in their face before continuing with the one you're currently fighting, that's all right too.
So, the fighting and driving system works very well and is very easy to handle. What about the story and how that is incorporated? Between all the fighting and casual run around the city and sometimes driving a car or a motorcycle, you get cut scenes that smoothly cuts into the action to show you updates, new missions and some story to keep you going.
The cut scenes are surely well integrated and don't feel intrusive in anyway, so hopefully United Front won't change that. Furthermore there are a lot of features that aren't implemented, such as wardrobes that we got a sneak peak on which gives away that we will get wardrobe functionality similar to GTA where you can change clothes between missions.
The final thing I would like to cover is the graphics. The graphics looks really great and in an open-world/sandbox type of game we also get the whole city loaded at once, except for finer details. So when you're on top of a skyscraper and look out over the city, you actually see other buildings in the distant that is actually there, Gareth says. He continues, if you enable no-clip mode and fly directly to a building that you see in the far distant you will actually get to the building and see that it's not just a background, attempting to fool you.
All in all, this was a preview of the upcoming game Sleeping Dogs, a very violent but interesting and adventurous game, that isn't at all complete. United Games and Square Enix still have a few more months to work on it before the world gets to play the game. Sleeping Dogs are scheduled for launch in the second half of 2012.
This time, it's for real, we've seen the future!