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Malik (11/19/12)

I have been playing games for once. Actually, "games" is wrong. I've shifted from XCOM since the last time the game was updated in Steam it caused some new bugs that made the game a pain in the ass to play (mouse and keyboard movement of the camera got wonky). I'm now going full in with Sleeping Dogs.

OK...I have to admit, my long standing distrust for Square Enix may have officially ended with Sleeping Dogs. This is the first truly new game I've actually enjoyed from this company since Final Fantasy IX. Sleeping Dogs is a perfect blend of an open world GTA style game, but with a plot that is beyond epic. What you have is what feels like a classic Hong Kong cop/crime movie with a smooth game engine that seems to encourage you to keep doing more things. I mean this is a rare open world game in which the activities and collectibles are fun. Not only are the main plot missions solid, but even the obligatory races and side quests. In fact, besides some side activities that feel like obvious side missions (debt collection, races, etc.), I honestly have trouble telling if a mission I just completed is part of the main game or if it is optional.

I think one of my favorite things that Sleeping Dogs does so well is that it will actually allow you (after unlocking early in the game) to see collectibles on your map. Health upgrades, CC cameras (used for a side mission dealing with drug busts), and items that allow you to learn new martial arts moves are all displayed for you. You don't see (at least how early I'm in the game) lock boxes, the final collectible (just have money and clothing), are not visible, but they are not the ones that will really help you to become the bad ass undercover cop you want to become.

The really solid part of Sleeping Dogs is that this game is now a typical GTA clone in which it's all about being the dude with the largest gun. You spend 95% of the game unarmed (guns are not a common thing in Hong Kong, where the game takes place), so you are introduced to a solid combat system that feels like a simplified, in a good way, version of the Batman Arkham City combat system. You have combos of attacks, strong and quick attacks, grapple moves, environmental attacks (slam a dude into a phone booth), and a good counter attack option. It's also a game in which combat goes smoothly, but one bad move can really turn the battle away from you. Also, much like Arkham City, guns, when they do surface, are bad news. You're not a GTA hero. You are a dude who will die from a couple of gun shots. You are also a dude who can take out a thug with just one or two well aimed bullets.

The game has been out for a while (since Darksiders II came out in the summer). It just took me time to get to it. However, I'm now feeling very late to the party. Sleeping Dogs is making a solid effort to be my game of the year.

On a side note, the Wii U came out yesterday. Don't expect much about this from me. Nintendo burned me with the N-64, the Gamecube, the Wii, and the 3DS. The Wii U is not going to burn me again. To put it bluntly; Nintendo, show me the games. Until I see more than one possibly entertaining game, I'm not buying in.


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