See, Sleeping Dogs isn’t your typical Grand Theft Auto clone. Unlike recent titans of the genre -- Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption and Saints Row: The Third your character, Wei Shen, doesn’t have roguish, violent tendencies just because he’s a criminal looking to make a few bucks. Rather, Shen is a calculated and complicated figure, an undercover cop with plenty of experience in both the United States and Hong Kong who returns to his native land in order to help get the city’s thriving criminal enterprises under control. But as Shen gets sucked further and further into the Triad underworld he initially wants to unravel, his motives – and which side he’ll end up falling in line with – become increasingly blurred.
Sleeping Dogs’ blurred lines come to the fore as soon as you’re introduced to the game’s unique leveling system, which allots Shen experience points in three specific areas: Cop, Triad and Face. The experience points are, in turn, used to unlock new, unique abilities. Cop and Triad points often intermingle with one another as you complete the game’s primary missions, rewarding you for how careful you are with innocents and personal and private property (Cop) while simultaneously challenging you to brutalize your enemies with as much reckless abandon and gore as you can muster (Triad)
Sleeping Dogs’ version of Hong Kong is purportedly influenced by and designed after the real city. Its four districts are distinct, and the map sprawls considerably, although it’s probably not quite as big as Liberty City or Steelport. What makes it stand out, however, is how alive and well-populated it is. The AI in the game is smart, the passing chatter of NPCs well-executed, and the ebbs and flows of the city as it vacillates between day and night make it a believable setting worthy of exhaustive exploration.