Sleeping Dogs Demo Review

A retrospective look
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Sleeping Dogs was a game that almost never existed. Originally announced in 2009 as True Crime: Hong Kong, the game was cancelled by Activision two years later. Thankfully, it was quickly picked up by Square Enix and released as Sleeping Dogs in the fall of last year.

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The game received generally positive reviews for its open world combat and elements of free running. And although it came out in 2012, I have yet to play Sleeping Dogs. I decided to sit down and play the demo so that I may take a retrospective look at the game with only the limited knowledge I have so far of its gameplay.

The Sun On Yee/Wei Shen

First let’s start with a quick introduction to the main character. You play as Wei Shen, a Chinese-American police officer who goes undercover as a member of the Sun On Yee Triad (based off of the real Sun Yee On) in Hong Kong. The Sun On Yee are one of the main branches of the Chinese transnational organized crime syndicate.

From there the player can decide on how to play the game. Choices are measured using a Cop and Triad XP scale, with points allocated to the appropriate organization.

This means you can paint Wei as either a conflicted and troubled officer trying his best to remain indifferent in the criminal world he cannot control or as a complete sociopath who lacks allegiance to either side. This is emphasized with the ability to kill both rival gang members and innocent citizens, and police officers.

The Demo

Right from the beginning, Sleeping Dogs thrusts you into the task of hunting down Ming, a rival Triad member. Free running is introduced early after you track down Ming. You quickly run through the carefully designed and lively streets of Hong Kong; pushing through people speaking in both English and Cantonese. The alleyways are full of street food vendors, as well as many shops. All these details instantly create the feeling of a large open world.

After a rooftop confrontation, you are arrested by the Hong Kong police. And while being interrogated by another cop, a superintendent bails you out. This is where the game introduces you to the fact you are an undercover agent. The demo then jumps to you infiltrating a warehouse to capture a man responsible for an attack on your boss’ family. The game’s combat is shown off in full for the player at this point.

Combat in the game utilizes environmental elements. You have the ability to brutally shove enemies’ faces into furnaces, fans, boxes, walls, and basically anything near you. Shooting in the game seems to rely on a cover system that allows you to dive over objects and slow down time to give you a chance to fire at enemies (think Max Payne 3).


To be perfectly honest I’ve wanted to play this game for a long time, but I refrained from doing so because my short attention span makes me not the biggest fan of open world games. However, the demo convinced me to go and download it immediately. Great music, huge world, and quality voice acting is all mixed together with pretty fun combat, which makes the game worth your time.

That’s not to say I didn’t encounter some issues. It seems as if movement in the game is a little sticky and unresponsive. This could be a personal issue with my PC, which is what prompted me to get the 360 version of the game instead. Hopefully that will resolve the problem, though I did see some similar complaints from other players.

In the end, the game borrows a lot from known games (Grand Theft Auto), but from what I’ve experienced in the demo there’s also a lot to be offered. The game has a unique open-world setting in Hong Kong and is filled with interesting characters. It’s a mystery as to why this game flew under the radar for most gamers.

Sleeping Dogs Demo Review
A retrospective look

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Leah Augustine
Just a college student studying animation with a love of games. Feel free to talk to me!