Sleeping Dogs review

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Set in Hong Kong's seedy criminal underbelly, Sleeping Dogs is an open-world game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto that puts players in the shoes of undercover cop Wei. Having grown up on the streets, Wei has a slightly skewed moral compass with no qualms about beating the stuffing out of anyone who gets in his way.

Unlike GTA, guns are rare and the emphasis is instead placed on MMA-inspired battles. UFC fighter GSP assisted with the motion-capture for Wei and any fan of the welterweight champion will recognise his signature kicks and confident fighting style.

In general the motion-capture does a great job of replicating the strikes, takedowns, and body movements you'd see in a real-life MMA match-up. During the game Wei joins an underground fight club, and it's here the tactical side of the combat system really shines. You need to get Wei to counter opponents fighting styles with specific moves initiated at specific times rather than just mash the buttons and hope for victory. Some fighters are better at stand-up and need to be taken down with a double-leg followed by ground and pound, while others are better versed in grappling and can only be beaten with long-range strikes. 

Though the rhythm of the fights feels realistic, Sleeping Dogs still indulges in some over the top action. For example, environmental attacks are often cartoonishly violent and great fun when you pull them off - not much in life is more enjoyable than using a double-leg takedown on someone before introducing their heart to the business end of a swordfish! 

Sleeping Dogs is far from being an MMA simulation (we recommend UFC Undisputed 3 if that's what you're after), but if the idea of an anarchic open-world experience with fluid MMA-inspired combat sounds appealing, you won't be disappointed. It's impossible to say exactly how it would have played without GSP's influence, but for an insight into how he got involved in the development process check out the video below. And also have a butchers at Men's Fitness being armlocked by the UFC champion.

Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.