Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition Review

Bite and bark

Sleeping Dogs was a pleasant surprise of 2012. A game which suffered immense hardship, to the point where it looked like the game was getting canceled altogether. Thankfully, Square Enix and United Front Games saved it from its dark fate, and what we got was not only an open-world action game that had a story worth paying attention to, but a city that was a joy to explore. Fast forward to today, where Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is available on both next-gen consoles, allowing players who have yet to experience Sleeping Dogs the ability to do so, or allow others who have played it, see it in a much prettier coat of paint. At least, if you haven't already played the PC version.

The PC version back in the day came with a free Ultra Resolution DLC pack, that made the game go from looking pretty great, to downright gorgeous. Comparing the last-gen versions to the PC version was like night and day. Thankfully, the Definitive Version does bring the visual quality of Sleeping Dogs on level with the PC version from 2012. With that said, if you've previously played the game on your PC, you probably won't find a lot to love in the Definitive Edition.

The biggest and most noticeable difference in the graphics will be in the environment detail. Everything is sharper, the draw distance is much higher, and details like reflections from lights and puddles look absolutely gorgeous. The characters themselves also look slightly more detailed, but they're a lot less noticeable than the overall quality of the environment. Again, to PC folk, the difference will most likely be pretty negligible.

Sleeping Dogs

Definitive isn't only describing its higher visual quality though, as all the other previously released DLC packs like the various individual additions like the Street Racer pack which adds new racing modes, or the SWAT pack which allowed you to deck yourself out in full SWAT gear. It also packs in the two bigger DLC expansions, Year of the Snake, which takes place after the main storyline, and Nightmare in North Point, which adds supernatural elements and more missions to the game. It really is a fully featured game packed with content.

Sleeping Dogs revolves around Wei Shen, a young undercover cop who walks a fine line between forking to enforce the law, or go above it. It's a fantastic blend where you have to carefully decide how to go about missions, and which missions to take part in. The game also has three separate skill trees associated with whether you're completing missions in favor of the police, for the Chinese underground or behaving as a civilian. The great thing about this tree is that it usually forces you to play a certain way if you wish to further unlock a new skill in a specific skill tree.

Sleeping Dogs, Definitive or not, is the full package when it comes to story and gameplay. It's easily the only other open-world game besides the GTA series that actually interested me in the story and had me invested in the main character. Wei Shen is a likeable dude who is thrust into a lot of unfortunate circumstances due to the nature of him being undercover, and it's certainly worth seeing through to the end. Likewise, the gameplay is a perfect balance of exploration and combat. Where GTA and other open-world games mostly focus on firearms, Sleeping Dogs has a fantastic, if not overly simple melee combat system. You'll balance quick jabs with more powerful strikes, with the ability to grab your opponents and use the environment around you to do some serious damage. Like the Arkham games, you also have a counter button that can easily dispatch any enemy that's about to assault you from behind. It's a flexible system that's easy to get into and master.

Sleeping Dogs

Hong Kong's charm might just stem from the fact that modren open-world games don't usually stray far away from cities like New York, Chicago or even Seattle. United Front Games did a fantastic job at making Hong Kong seem authentic (though admittedly I've never been there). Even the little things like driving on the other side of the road is something that you'll have to initially get used to, but you'll undoubtedly appreciate the authenticity.

We really enjoyed the original Sleeping Dogs and the Definitive Edition just gives everyone that same great experience with a slightly better coat of paint, but also jam packs it with every single piece of DLC so you'll undoubtedly have more than enough content to go through, even past the main story's completion. If you've played Sleeping Dogs on PC, then you most likely won't really need to rebuy the game, even though you do get a 50% discount on Steam. However, for those that have yet to experience the game should certainly pick up the Definitive Edition, as it's not only the best deal for the game, but it's also the prettiest one.