Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake review

 Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the ending of Sleeping Dogs.

    The Year of the Snake is the final DLC of the first Sleeping Dogs game. It serves an epilogue, to an extent, for the main game. We finally find out whether Wei Shen's loyalty is ultimately to the Triads or the Hong Kong police department. Sadly, this is all a bit of an anticlimax dealt with in the opening monologue of the game.

Hint: Wei is a cop.
     The trailer for the DLC reveals said monologue which confirms that Wei Shen has returned to active duty as a Hong Kong police detective. Unfortunately, due to the staggering body count and property damage his investigation created, he's demoted to beat cop. Wei Shen spends a humorous montage writing traffic tickets and giving directions to tourists. While I would have loved to have played through some of this--the actual DLC is about a terrorist bomb threat.

The SWAT gear for the Hong Kong police comes free with the DLC--once you complete it.
    The Year of the Snake deals the discovery of a cult which believes the world is going to end on the Chinese New Year, so they've decided to start bombing things (for some reason). This is actually not that far from some real-life extremist sects so I didn't particularly mind the premise. Wei must travel across Hong Kong attempting to defuse bombs and deal with the various cultist threats.

    Part of the problem is this may be a little too ambitious of a premise for a DLC. The Year of the Snake could easily have been the beginning plot of Sleeping Dogs 2. Maybe the Snake cult are a front for the Triads attempting to do, I dunno, stock manipulation or something. The DLC seems a bit underwhelming as the cultists are all mindless mooks. This is a sharp contrast to the main game where the Triad bosses all had distinct personalities.
Wei Shen learns to go ultra-violent in a socially ACCEPTABLE way.
      Still, there's a great deal to be fun here as the addition of a stun gun and handcuffing to the game (which can be brought over to the main game) are tremendously fun. I also appreciate the chance to use the various police vehicles inside the garage. Rather than just keep to the Snake cult missions, Year of the Snake also throws in a bunch of random police missions. These are mostly petty like stopping indecent exposure or delinquents but also include things like needing to defuse bombs.

    I'm not going to say the Year of the Snake is a waste but its potential is under-realized. A lot of the game feels like repetitions of previous adventures from the main game, which they are, but they don't give enough of them. Sadly, the most commonly repeated police adventure is "Suspicious Vehicle" which is the least enjoyable of the new material.

    In conclusion, I liked Year of the Snake but wasn't blown away by it. I recommend people who were fans of Wei Shen to pick it up but not to get their expectations too high.


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