What is it?
Sleeping Dogs is an open world, action adventure game where you play Wei Shen, a Chinese-American cop going undercover and infiltrating the Sun On Yee triad in Hong Kong. It is developed by United Front Games, makers of ModNation Racer and LittleBigPlanet Karting. The game started as a new entry in the True Crime franchise under Activision, before they pulled out due to development difficulties. The title was later picked up by Square Enix and published in August 14, 2012.
The gameplay is similar to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, where you can hijack cars and drive around the cities, doing missions for various Triad lieutenants and fighting against rival gang 18k and other Sun On Yee lieutenants to advance the storyline. The hand to hand combat system is also one of the highlights of the series, being an early adopter of the Arkham style rhythm-inspired combat. There are also various side tasks for Wei Shen to tackle, such as street racing and drug busting to raise his Face value (which is the respect he gets from Triad members) or even dating several potential love interests, one of which was voiced by Emma Stone. Speaking of which, the talent behind the characters is quite star studded as well, with names like Lucy Liu, Edison Chen and Kelly Hu voicing big roles in the game.
At the start of the story, Wei Shen is reconnected with his old friend Jackie Ma after a drug deal gone wrong. After getting up to date with each other’s life, Wei Shen joins the Sun On Yee triad (based on real life Sun Yee On). However, we soon learn that Wei Shen became a cop after he left Hong Kong and has now returned to take the Triad out from the inside. His loyalty to his Triad friends and the police are often questioned and tested. However, neither are as clear cut as it seems. Though ultimately the player has no say in the how the story unfolds, it is still an intriguing one and reminds me a little of Infernal Affairs and other undercover cop stories.
What I want to see in a Sequel
Sleeping Dogs did a really good job in capturing the Hong Kong life. The rough streets and the people reminded me of a lot of 90s Hong Kong films from people like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Stephen Chow. They even use popular Cantonese profanities like ‘Ham Ka Chan’, or ‘Diu Le Lou Mou’. Even by random drivers if you accidentally crash into their cars. It’s the little things like these that made me love Sleeping Dogs and a sequel MUST show a similar dedication to the setting it is attempting to recreate.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be set in Hong Kong though. There are many different crime ridden cities in the world that could be used as a backdrop to a potential game. The True Crime series has already done Los Angeles and New York, so perhaps someplace like Las Vegas or even cities in Mexico (I’m not sure which cities the cartel operates in) could be an interesting setting. Though I must confess that I would love to see another Chinese setting.
The main character doesn’t necessarily have to be a cop too, though it would certainly set the game apart from open world giant GTA if he was. It would also be interesting to see some sort of wavering loyalty from the protagonist, more so than in Sleeping Dogs. There could be a system to keep track of the player’s action and determine how much he helped the gang vs the cops. This could even determine the ultimate outcome of the story – doing too much to help the cops could result in his cover being blown, or too much to help the gang and he could be thought by the cops to have gone rogue. Striking a balance would lead to the best ending.
It’s hard to say at this point.
There was attempt at making a sequel called Triad Wars. Though it was to be an online thing and would be focused on fighting against other players to become the criminal kingpin of Hong Kong. And although it would have used the same map as Sleeping Dogs and many of the same systems as well, I doubt it would capture the charm of Sleeping Dogs. In any case, it doesn’t matter anymore, since the game has been cancelled and United Front Games has been shut down. So the sequel is no long in development.
That said, the IP of Sleeping Dogs belongs to Square Enix. If they want to make a sequel, they have many teams to do it. Ideally it would be one of their western teams, like Eidos Montreal or Crystal Dynamics, since these teams are more experienced with this style of gameplay. However, their western branches seem to be tied up with Marvel Avenger games. Eidos Montreal is also rumored to be tied up with a possible Tomb Raider sequel. On the other side of the world, Square Enix’s Japanese teams doesn’t have the best track record with open world games at this time, though it would be interesting to see a Sleeping Dogs style game set in Japan. It could possibly be a competitor to Sega’s Yakuza franchise, which has been gaining steam in recent years. Games like Persona 5 and Yakuza have shown that there is a demand for games set in modern day Japan.
At this moment in time, I doubt Square Enix would explore the Sleeping Dogs IP. They have a ton of games in development, both big and small, including Left Alive, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Project Octopath Traveller, and on and on. To add to that, Square Enix is almost infamous for sitting on dormant franchises like Legacy of Kain and Chrono. Though it would appear that Legacy of Kain may resurface soon with a recent tweet hinting about it.
So, yeah, unlikely to happen in the near future as much as I wished otherwise.