Revisiting Sleeping Dogs

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True Crime: Streets of LA was one of my favorite games on the PlayStation 2. This is why I was surprised that its spiritual successor, Sleeping Dogs, didn’t resonate with me the same way. I played Sleeping Dogs in early 2015, a few years after the game originally released. I played the remaster version for PlayStation 4 and even though all signs would point to me enjoying a game like Sleeping Dogs, something about the game didn’t do it for me.

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This last weekend, I took a break from playing Overwatch in order to jump back into Sleeping Dog’s portrayal of Beijing. This was my first time playing in a year and I was sure that taking a break from the game would be all that was needed in order to cleanse my pallet and give me chance of enjoying Sleeping Dogs. Upon jumping in, I found myself once again not having the fun that I thought I would. But why? Sleeping Dogs has fairly good reviews. I was excited for the game because it checks all of the boxes for a game that I would prefer. It’s an open world crime game where you fight people. It’s a modern day Double Dragon. It’s also a poor man’s Grand Theft Auto.

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The issue that I have with Sleeping Dogs isn’t actually an issue with Sleeping Dogs. It’s an issue with the games industry. It’s weird critiquing a game that came out in 2012. But many of the same principles still apply to day. The main principle that I want to highlight in this case is the lack of innovation and inspiration. Sleeping Dogs has a few gameplay elements. There is fighting, shooting, and driving. The fighting is taken straight out of one of the Batman games. The shooting is taken straight out of a Max Payne, or any cover based third-person shooter you can think of. And the driving feels like a generic attempt to copy Grand Theft Auto.

Sleeping Dog’s generic gameplay isn’t Sleeping Dogs fault. The game is actually great, it’s just something that I’ve done before in so many games. Even though in 2016, the trends are different from the trends during the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era, there are still trends. These trends (Open-world, side quest over-saturation, futuristic shooters, etc) are creating mediocre experiences and I believe that the industry deserves better. Not because these games are bad, but because as much as we say we want these games, we actually don’t. What would happen if every big studios decided they wanted to create something brand new? I know this is a dream and not viable business-wise because new ideas create risks. However, for the art of the medium, innovation is needed. This is what I learned from Sleeping Dogs.

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