OK, so with that out of the way, just hopping in for a sec to update everybody on Sleeping Dogs, which I finished. Total playtime, 23 hours and I finished all the story missions, all the cop missions and “favors” and enough drug busts to put me at maximum everything. So yeah, it’s not a GTA style commitment. That said:

Satisfying! Not that I haven’t played Grand Theft Auto before of course but how refreshing it is to finally play a crime game where “less is more”. Less urban sprawl equals more environmental focus. Less types of guns equals less immersion breaking “I’m running around with a flamethrower” bullshit. Less NPCs equals tighter pacing and better fusion of the writing with the main storyline. As the reviewer said, this is the game that Saints’ Row has been trying desperately to be for years.

Obviously I liked it. Speaking of appeal elements: By far and away Sleeping Dogs’ marquee feature is just the straight up quality of its voice talent and voice acting. There are many commanding performances in the game, and the actor playing Wei Shen manages to be pitch perfect as a conflicted wound-up-tighter-than-a-spool-of-wire deep cover cop. Most of the (95% genuine Asian) cast also brings their A-game to the table as well, creating a game that draws you continually forwards with its plot and characters, never pooling around in the weeds just to unlock “islands” or whatever.

The quality of the writing is excellent across the board often straying into your known Hong Kong cop cliches but always in a non-jarring way that fans of Asian action movies will appreciate. Slow mo, guns blazing leaps over banisters mixed with horrible down-and-dirty meat cleaver violence. Great stuff. I appreciated that most of the “higher level” suits and outfits brought Wei closer and closer to looking like Chow Yun Fat complete with shades and natty black suits. Also, unlockable Ong Bak cameo outfit.

Since we here at the squad appreciate good endings, I’m pleased to report that the Sleeping Dogs team absolutely nails the last 3-4 missions of the main plot. As we all know from current fiascos this year sticking or fumbling the ending of a great game can make or break the way that the title is remembered once the credits roll. Your Planescapes, Red Deads and your Spec Ops’ remain high in mind even years later, when you reflect sagely back on good times and nod your head. Sleeping Dogs joins the ranks of the Truly Good Ones with a finale worthy of its cinematic pedigree, leaving the player with a satisfying, contemplative finish.

On an unrelated note: great to see Extra Credits doing a double feature on Spec Ops: the Line. Don’t watch part 2 unless you want spoilarz, but I’m truly glad to see this game finally getting some of the respect that it deserves in the gaming press, albeit very slowly.

I’m not surprised that it took many weeks for the public consensus on Spec Ops to crystalize. It’s a thinky game with thinky themes. You don’t just read Catch 22 and then walk away going “yep yep, got it!”.

People need sufficient time to think. For me, Spec Ops was one of those rare titles that immediately lit up the lightbulb in my head as a noteworthy “must-play” bellweather for those who enjoy talking seriously about games and having quick points of reference to fall back on when it comes to certain tropes. Like Journey, Spec Ops brought something very new to the table, and I was glad to see the Extra Credits guys having a lot of the same conversations about “mechanics as metaphor” and “why X was done this way” that Lynette and I had immediately on completion. The Line is an important game in our little taxonomy – while it has no lack of discernable flaws I agree with James that it absolutely deserves its place in the required reading canon. Great to see other people agreeing with me.