Videogame review: Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition by Square Enix

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 11:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 11:11pm

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition
Square Enix

There's a mission in Sleeping Dogs called "Soho Riots". Disaffected youths are violently protesting in Central and, as a riot cop, it's your job to clear the streets using fists, batons and tear gas. It all feels a little too familiar, considering the current political situation, and if ever there's a case of bad timing in the video game world, this Definitive Edition may be it.

It's unfortunate really, as Sleeping Dogs is arguably the most underrated release from gaming's last generation, an inspired sandbox adventure that takes the basic tenets of the Grand Theft Auto open world and amps up every facet while resetting things to our hometown of Hong Kong. The combat is brutal, the driving breakneck and the story incredibly involving.

As an undercover cop living a double life as a triad, it's your job to penetrate the ranks and suss out the snake's head. But along the way, your allegiances are torn between your gangster brethren and your role as a law-abiding peacemaker. It's a classic heroic bloodshed tale.

And this HD upgrade for the PS4 and Xbox One is its second life, a chance for local gamers who missed it the first go-around to finally experience not only one of the best releases in recent memory, but the greatest game ever set in our fair city. To be fair, the Definitive Edition is a decent package, but it's not as fully loaded as such recent next-gen upgrades as Tomb Raider or The Last of Us.

Along with the main game, you also get the two DLC add-ons, the immediate narrative follow-up "Year of the Snake" (featuring "Soho Riots" and other questionable cop-based missions) and Chinese ghost story-inspired spin-off "Nightmare in North Point".

Neither are as imaginative as the original story and no fresh or exclusive material has been included here. Given that the game's sequel, Triad Wars, is being geared up for release next year, this feels like a slightly missed opportunity, and even the trailer circulating online would have beefed up this fairly bare package.

All that aside, Sleeping Dogs by itself is still a stunning release, a near-perfect package of story and gameplay that adds up to one of the great open-world adventures. Those who've taken this ride won't find the Definitive Edition worthy of a re-buy, but fresh Hongkongers who can deal with the bad political timing will unearth plenty of thrills in its backyard virtual world.