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Sleeping Dogs: What the critics are saying

This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to United Front Games' open-world crime drama Sleeping Dogs, described as "an experience that raises the bar on almost every aspect of the genre."
This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to United Front Games' open-world crime drama Sleeping Dogs, which reviewers describe as "an experience that raises the bar on almost every aspect of the genre." Sleeping Dogs currently earns a score of 81 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. EGM's Brandon Justice scores Sleeping Dogs at 9.5 out of 10. "Once you get past the elements you know you've seen before, you'll quickly realize this isn't just another wannabe chasing Grand Theft Auto's tail," he explains. "Instead, Sleeping Dogs sets out to be more than just another amped-up hodgepodge of sex, violence, and dudebro humor by delivering an experience that raises the bar on almost every aspect of the genre." "Much of this is due to the fact that, from the jump, developer United Front Games strove to avoid the idea of building yet another 'jack of all trades, master of none'-style open-world title," Justice continues. "Instead, they opted to push boundaries and challenge expectations in nearly every aspect, starting with combat." Justice describes Sleeping Dogs' combat system as a highlight: "Borrowing liberally from Batman: Arkham City's simple, counter-driven system and offering a hefty dose of environmental attacks to boot, Sleeping Dogs' melee beatdowns are surprisingly fluid and offer a vast improvement on many of the more simplistic offerings in the genre." "It may not be as crass or flashy as some of its competitors, but Sleeping Dogs has a surprising amount of soul for a game of this ilk," Justice praises, "offering a refreshing take on what's possible from an open-world action title -- and more depth than you can shake a tire iron at." Wired's Chris Kohler rates Sleeping Dogs at 8 out of 10. "It is almost impossible to play Sleeping Dogs [...] without doing horrible brutal things to the people you are ostensibly there to protect," he warns. "Sleeping Dogs constantly reminds you of this by deducting 'cop points' every time you screw up. Love-tap a parking meter with your motorcycle? Lose cop points. Accidentally run over a pedestrian? Lose a lot of cop points." "Sleeping Dogs is a Grand Theft Auto clone, and why don't you try driving around in a sandbox game like this while obeying all the traffic signals and staying in your lane," Kohler continues. "Who does that? Nobody, because it's not fun. And Sleeping Dogs has some damn fast cars. And it's set in Hong Kong's tangle of tiny alleyways and side streets. Why dangle this in my face and punish me for enjoying it?" The strong narrative makes up for what Sleeping Dogs lacks in other areas. "It's a gripping drama," Kohler praises. "It feels real. You wonder what's going to happen, whether Shen will finally go over the edge or what. Wanting to know what was next was what kept me playing. The bite-size, okay-just-one-more missions certainly helped, but I was in large part sticking around to see the next cinematic scene." "I wish I could recommend Sleeping Dogs with no reservations," Kohler writes. "The story is excellent, the gameplay has flashes of brilliance and the mission structuring makes it rather addictive. It's hard to ignore all the little problems that keep presenting themselves, but not one of them is troublesome enough to make you stop playing." Xav de Matos at Joystiq gives Sleeping Dogs 3.5 out of 5 stars. "It's worlds apart from the developer's first game Modnation Racers, but Sleeping Dogs isn't completely unfamiliar," he notes. "From its narrative to gameplay features, Sleeping Dogs is an amalgamation of other people's good ideas. It's not inspiring, it's inspired." De Matos praises the game's nuanced combat system. "Despite being fairly easy once mastered, hand-to-hand combat never got stale for me," he says. "Part of that is because Sleeping Dogs does a pretty good job of doling out new combos throughout the story." "Weapons, like guns and melee items, almost act as power-ups," de Matos continues. "The first time you are given freedom to handle a pistol, for example, is hours into the story mode (unless you wrestle the steel from a roaming cop). It's refreshing that many missions don't rely on gunfire as a crutch for action or excitement. But guns become more prevalent by the end and, when you are finally strapped, gunplay feels loose and not nearly as well-conceived as unarmed combat." "What struck me about Sleeping Dogs is how unoriginal its major components are," de Matos concludes. "Fighting, driving, shooting, story, characters, sidequests: it has all been expertly sliced out of other media and put into place here. Other games are built on a similar 'borrowing' philosophy, but it's rarely as obvious. "Thankfully, Sleeping Dogs only encroaches the line of being completely derivative but -- because it blends so many different ideas -- it never crosses it. It's a good game, but Sleeping Dogs mostly leaves you remembering the media that inspired it and probably won't remain in your thoughts over time."

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