Sleeping Dogs (2012)

by Christopher
6 minutes read


Sleeping Dogs is a testament to the power of narrative in video games, seamlessly integrating action, exploration, and story in a vibrant open world. A must-play for fans of the genre.


Dive into the role of Wei Shen, a police officer returning to his native Hong Kong to infiltrate the notorious Triads in Sleeping Dogs. This game delivers a rich narrative woven with action-packed sequences and a deep exploration of the city’s underworld.


The player assumes the role of Wei Shen, starting with his assignment to infiltrate the Sun On Yee via his childhood friend Jackie Ma, a low-level Triad member2. The main storyline features two sub-plots: Shen’s balance between completing his police mission while committing crimes to prove himself to the Triads, and missions assigned by a Triad lieutenant, including the assassination of Triad members loyal to other lieutenants.

Wei Shen’s mission is coordinated by Police Superintendent Thomas Pendrew, and progress made by Shen is reported to his handler, Raymond Mak2. The game reveals Shen’s struggle as he is torn between his duty as a police officer and the organization he helped rise through the ranks.

Gameplay focuses on Wei Shen’s martial arts moves, fighting, shooting, and parkour abilities, and on gadgets that can be used for combat and exploration. Players must complete missions to unlock content and continue the story, but they may instead freely roam the game’s open-world environment and engage in both legal and criminal activities.

The game takes inspiration from Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper, and Dwarf Fortress. The player can allow additional conditions to be applied to their game, such as simulated temperature, gang activities, and more extreme weather conditions, to increase the difficulty of the game and to simulate a prison in conditions nearer to reality.

Upon its release in 2012, the game received positive reviews for its combat, voice acting, protagonist, experience system, and depiction of the city; but its camera and some animations were criticized. Within one year, the game had sold over 1.5 million copies. A remastered version, subtitled Definitive Edition, was released in October 2014 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

In 2017, a live-action film adaptation was announced, with Donnie Yen set to star as Shen. The game also spawned a spin-off multiplayer game titled Triad Wars, which was canceled in 2015.


Key characters include Wei Shen, the protagonist; Jackie Ma, a childhood friend and your guide to the Triad’s inner workings; and various leaders and members of the Sun On Yee Triad, each with their own motivations and stories.


Featuring a robust combat system that blends kung fu, gunplay, and brutal melee attacks, Sleeping Dogs offers players a variety of ways to engage with enemies. The game also includes driving mechanics, side missions, and cultural explorations around Hong Kong.


Sleeping Dogs stands out as a memorable title within the action-adventure genre, offering a compelling story, rich gameplay mechanics, and a vivid portrayal of Hong Kong’s criminal underworld.

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