I tried out the hand to hand combat system and threw thugs into air conditioners the first time I played Sleeping Dogs. Square Enix showed me a new demo, which had a shooting section. First, I had to punch my way through a warehouse.
The quick way of explaining Sleeping Dogs’ combat is comparing it to Batman: Arkham City. You have an attack button and you push the analog stick toward the enemy you want to strike. Detective Wei Shen decides whether to use a side kick or backfist on his own. There’s another button to counterattack and a grapple button to grab enemies. Tossing goons into crates instantly disables them, but you have to drag them close to objects first. This demo introduced a new kind of enemy, a bouncer-like bad guy who could counter grapples. I had to use strikes and dodge roll to defeat him.
When you grab a gun the gameplay changes and taking cover is a key element. While Wei Shen’s health recovers, he can’t take too many bullets. The key to the Triad shootouts, it seems, is leaping out of cover. This gives Wei Shen an adrenaline rush and everything slows down. It’s basically Sleeping Dogs form of bullet time. You only have a few seconds of super speed, but it’s enough time to shoot two thugs. Land a headshot by moving the cursor in place and you get a couple more seconds of bullet time. United Front Games designed this area with rows of cover points. I slid over from one cover point to the next, scoring a headshot here and there.
I moved upstairs and ran into another group of gangsters. These guys had automatic weapons, but I was able to defeat them by using bullet time in a strange way. Wei Shen’s adrenaline kicks in *any* time you leap over an object, so I leaped over a railing and dropped back to the first floor. While I was falling, I picked off a thug and since I was falling the other Triad members couldn’t hit Wei Shen. I walked up the staircase and did the same thing over and over until I cleared the area. Between rounds I waited a minute to see if the enemies would come down to pursue Wei Shen. They didn’t in the demo. The enemies waited in their cover points for Wei Shen to walk upstairs, jump off a balcony, and open fire before freefalling one floor.
Sleepign Dogs comes out on August 14 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.