Expectations are dangerous. Dead Island found this out the hard way, working the audience to frothing excitement with a wonderfully crafted CG trailer that bore precious little resemblance to the actual game. It's with this warning in mind, and with my anticipation coloured by a glitzy live-action trailer, that I sit down to play Sleeping Dogs, an open world crime game saturated in new wave Hong Kong cinema.
Clearly, developer United Front Games has heeded that warning, too: pretty much everything you see in that trailer can be done in the game. There's bone-snapping close-quarters chopsocky, vicious slow-motion gunplay, frenetic car chases, death defying inter-vehicle stunts, ghastly blood-letting with kitchen implements, and environments whose every surface begs for context-sensitive violence: sizzling stoves await the face of a triad goon while fridge doors swing open to close eagerly on thuggish skulls. And not any of this is demoted to QTE, but remains an ever-available mechanic in a dynamic, bustling recreation of Hong Kong.
Even if the game matches the trailer's action blow for blow, Sleeping Dogs is, however, wrestling with another set of expectations which are aren't nearly as optimistic. Having been previously announced as True Crime: Hong Kong, publisher Activision first delayed the project from 2010 to 2011, and then finally swung the axe last year, saying that it just wouldn't reach the required level of quality.