The sincerest form of flattery?
I F imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Rockstar must be blushing from United Front Games' love letter to the Grand Theft Auto series. Sleeping Dogs is essentially GTA: Hong Kong, and that ain't a bad thing at all.
True, it may lack the comedic satire that Rockstar's fictional universe allows it to voice, but the trade off for a larger-than-life Hong Kong is a worthy exchange – the city is alive with well-researched detail and becomes the rich setting for a cops vs Triads tale of revenge.
The story goes that Wei Shen, a Hong Kong-born American cop is back in town to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organisation.
That he blames one of the Triad's for his sister's death adds further motivation to the mission, causing Wei to tread a very thin line between police officer and vigilante, while also having to live and act as a Triad member himself.
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Balancing all this are various meters and stats that allow you to unlock new abilities as you play through the game, dabbling with some light RPG-style unlocks to customise Wei to your playstyle as you impress the Triads or make busts for the police.
As well as RPG elements, Sleeping Dogs draws from many other games blending the free running of Assasins' Creed with the combat of Arkham Asylum, and of course the entire GTA sandbox template.
Thankfully, it all works together rather well, with its own tweaks to these staple formulas.
While Wei may not quite have the style and brutality of Batman and his toys, he does a good job putting fist to face, with the signature fighting style that rewards clever timing with maximum force.
That you can also use the environment to devastating effect just makes it all the more entertaining.
So, you're free running (or driving) around a stunningly rendered Hong Kong, having kung fu brawls, shoot-outs, busting criminals and getting deep into Triad trouble with a huge variety of missions and places to go. What's not to like?
Other than some shonky voice-work and animation, it's surprisingly good.
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