Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (PS4) Review

Great Game With A Questionable Remaster

Sleeping Dogs is one of the great surprises of the last generation of consoles. The 2012 open world, Hong Kong Triad crime drama caught everyone off guard with its engaging story, well executed mechanics and thoroughly authentic Hong Kong setting. Now it’s back for a new generation of consoles, and while the game is still a sleeper hit/classic, the remaster effort is less impressive than other rereleases that have hit the new consoles lately.

Hong Kong In 1080p

Story  and content wise, this is the exact same game that came out in 2012, only now, like a typical Game of the Year edition, it comes packed with all the DLC, including a supernatural romp, and an homage to Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. It’s still a vastly underrated, highly recommended open world game with one of the best locations in gaming today, but now it’s available on current gen consoles with a full price of $70. The differentiating factor here is the technical improvements, but there’s a serious question about whether it’s worth that asking price.

When Sleeping Dogs first hit consoles, the conventional wisdom was that the Xbox 360 was easier to work with, and thus multi-platform games tended to perform better on it than the more exotic and powerful PS3. Sleeping Dogs followed this wisdom, and now in the same way, with the more powerful yet easier to work with PS4, it also follows the new conventional wisdom that multi-platform games tend to perform better on Sony’s new hardware. Unfortunately, it seems like United Front Games either had less time or is less familiar than Crystal Dynamics when it comes to the new hardware. Where Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition showed obvious gains in technical performance, Sleeping Dogs feels marginal, with improvements that will only be obvious to the technically inclined. As to be expected, textures have been sharpened up, draw distances are better, so draw-in and pop-up is not so pronounced, and the framerate has stabilized, not plummeting dramatically during busy traffic or action sequences. Better lighting and fog elements have also been added to the mix, so, on paper, United Front Games can definitely say the game has been upgraded.

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On the other hand, the sharpened textures aren’t a dramatic improvement, unlike Tomb Raider where you didn’t even need a side-by-side comparison to notice the differences thanks to a brand new character model. Tomb Raider also enjoyed a hefty boost to framerate. Sleeping Dogs, which targeted—and rarely—achieved 30 frames per second in its original incarnation, now does so more reliably, although the frame rate STILL drops during hectic sequences, just not as noticeably as in its original release. The game is also somewhat buggy, with random crashes to that occur without rhyme or reason, something that will hopefully be addressed in a patch sometime in the near future.

So what Square-Enix is asking PS4 and Xbox One players to do is shell out CAD $70 on a game with all its DLC collected, and much needed improvements that make game run as originally envisioned, without really screaming “next gen.” This is no knock on the game itself, as it is still one of the most pleasant surprises of the last generation and deserves to be enjoyed by everyone. But there’s very little in either the pricing or the technical improvements of the game to justify the full price cost, especially when Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is now available for CAD $40-$45 depending on where you buy it. As always with any re-master, if you’ve never played the game before, this is a no-brainer, the game is sufficiently good enough to warrant a purchase. But if you already have the game, there simply hasn’t been enough done in the porting over to the PS4 to justify the cost. At $30, this would be a bargain that gives the game a much needed second chance at exposure. At $70, it feels like a cynical cash grab, which is unfortunate because it’s a game that deserves more attention than it got during its last generation debut.