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First Look: Sleeping Dogs

By
Posted on February 9, 2012 AT 02:02am

On December 12th, 2009, Activision debuted a trailer for a new game at the Spike Video Game Awards 2009. That game was True Crime, a working title for the third official release in Luxoflux’ True Crime series.

Sometimes, however, plans don’t go as—well, as planned. Even at that point, the existence of a third chapter of the True Crime series was somewhat surprising, as Activision had originally canned plans for such a project after True Crime: New York hadn’t sold as well as the publisher had hoped.

And yet, here it was, revived again—only to once again suffer a tragic fate. Though a new developer had stepped in (United Front Games) and the roster of platforms had been announced (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows), in August of the next year the game was pushed back until 2011 to give its development more polishing time. At this point, the game now had a more official title—True Crime: Hong Kong—and Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg promised that “the additional development time invested in this game has really paid off.”

Then, come February 2011, True Crime: Hong Kong received a second bullet to the brain, as Activision announced the project had ceased production.

“We are sorry we did not get a chance to complete this project with Activision, but we understand why,” United Front Games’ website said about the cancellation. “We are both committed to doing quality games and nothing less. Maybe we will have a chance to work together in the future, but in the meantime we are setting our creative sights on a different horizon.”

The third time, however, may be the charm. In August of last year, Square Enix acquired publishing rights for the game—a game it has now announced is not only coming out later this year, but which has been renamed to Sleeping Dogs.

Players will take up the role of undercover cop Wei Shen, who has been tasked with taking down major worldwide crime syndicate the Hong Kong Triads. Playing out in the open world streets of Hong Kong, the game seems to promise a mixture of fact action and moralistic uncertainties. Many of the traditional video game challenges will be there—gunfights, martial arts-based combat, intense street races, interactive environments, and more. The conflict Wei Shen encounters, however, will also be more personal, as he finds himself getting deeper involved and more intwined with the very organization he’s been tasked with bringing down.

“From the moment you pick up the controller and experience the blend of driving, close combat and shooting you know you’re playing something fresh and a bit special,” said general manager of Square Enix London Studios Lee Singleton. “Sleeping Dogs has one of the best melee combat systems out there – it’s super brutal with devastating takedown moves, and when added to UFG’s proven heritage in driving games, a first class story and the vibrant backdrop of the Hong Kong underworld we get a fiery recipe with fun written all over it.”

After its many years of troubled development and fierce competition from the various other open world action titles out there, can Sleeping Dogs finally break away from the curse it’s suffered under up to this point? That question remains to be seen; at the very least, we’ll get the chance to find that out for ourselves.

And that’s really the best part in all of this. Even if a game turns out to be not all that we’d hope for, I’d rather see it given a chance at success and fail than never be given that chance at all. For all of those who have worked long and hard on Sleeping Dogs, however, hopefully all of that patience will pay off in the end.

Sleeping Dogs will be released in the second half of 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC platforms.

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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