Monday, July 16, 2012

SDCC 2012 : Sleeping Dogs - Hands On Impressions

One of the people working at the demo told me that this game was like GTA, open world but with a lot of focus on hand to hand combat and he was certainly right, at least for the demo.

The game takes place in Hong Kong, and I don’t know much else about the story except that my character is working with a drug dealer, and one of his customers hadn’t payed up. I was to make an example of him, so I set out to find him. The areas I followed were pretty large, filled with crowds bustling around the streets, street vendors and stalls selling goods (That I could not buy), the city looked like it had plenty of life. It was also night time and there were plenty of lit signs and overall atmosphere that really made me feel like I was in Hong Kong.

Exploring and Chase

Walking around Hong Kong, I had access to a map and quest marker just as any open world game would have. It allowed me to easily make my way to find a person who would have a lead on my target. I got to the quest marker, talked to the guy (Automatic dialogue, there were no choices on what to say) and eventually found the target.

He immediately began to run away and a chase seen like many of the great action movies began. My options were to sprint holding the A button, slide with the X button over stalls quickly, and A again to jump over small walls. The chase was actually very fun and rather intense. My target would frequently push things in my way, including people that would actually halt my progress. If I ran into someone, I would have to push them away or might even trip over something he pushed if I wasn’t careful. I even got caught into someone, pushing them several times because they were still in my way and slowing me down even more. It’s easy to tell this was still scripted as it looked like he stopped at one point for me to catch up and continue the chase. Nevertheless it was still fun.

Combat System

I eventually caught up to him where he sent thugs after me and this is where the combat section of the demo began. The focus was solely on melee combat so I am not sure if there are guns in this game but the combat was definitely great. It was very similar to Batman : Arkham Asylum / Arkham City in fact.

I had access to a normal attack, a counter attack and a grapple. The counter attack could be activated when an enemy glowed briefly, allowing me to open them up for a pummelling from my normal attacks or a grapple. Enemies would also block which made my normal attacks useless so I had to either try a grapple (which didn’t always work) or wait for a counter attack. I wasn’t sure if I could actually block in that game, I didn’t remember seeing a button for it.

The most interesting option was the grapple. When I grabbed an opponent I had a few options. Repeatedly punch in the face and knock him away, throw him which could hit other enemies as well, or the most satisfying option, the environmental reactions. I could pretty much slam him into anything I saw, with interesting consequences. I slammed one opponent’s face into a wall, one into a rail, another into a dumpster, one into a pole and the most gruesome one I found in the demo was putting one thug, face first into a spinning Air condition fan. Unfortunately his face looked relatively unharmed when it emerged from the fan, despite the large amount of blood from the fan attack.

I had to fight several thugs at a time which made it important not to attack too often since you couldn’t activate the counter attack if you were already in attacking animation. Grappling someone away from a fight was also a useful tactic. Once I defeated the first thugs, my target retreated high up on a building, and I was forced to use a dumpster to get up to reach him. The demo ended with one final fight, beating up my target senseless to make an example of him and then getting caught by the police.

Overall it was a pretty fun demo and the combat was definitely satisfying. It will be interesting to see how the game turns out but this one is also on my radar now.

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