We’re towards the tail-end of a year that has been rife with remastered editions of relatively new games. While I’ve discussed at length my qualms with this industry trend on this very website, it’s now unavoidable that many publishers are using the first full year of both the PS4 and Xbox One’s respective life cycles to wheel out a “greatest hits” selection of the most popular last-gen games. Developer United Front’s Sleeping Dogs was a sleeper hit back in 2012, taking everyone by surprise with its fun open-world gameplay, its arcade-y driving segments and unique Hong Kong setting. It proved popular enough to warrant it receiving a make-over in the form of Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, though it’s difficult to see what’s so “definitive” about that notably lazy port.
For those who played Sleeping Dogs the first time around, you already know the story. Undercover cop Wei Shen returns to Hong Kong to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization from within, encountering a whole bunch of gangsters that he must bring to justice along the way. Despite publisher Square Enix claiming that facets of its gameplay were to be improved come the Definitive Edition, there’s really nothing here that leapt out at me as being radically different from its predecessor. For better and for worse everything has remained in tact, from the high-octane Outrun 2-esque driving segments across Hong Kong, through to the multitude of bugs (some hilarious, some not so much) that are littered throughout the game. I was forced to cope with a couple of hard crashes during my playtime with Sleeping Dogs, and other glitches such as Wei inexplicably morphing into his surroundings and enemies ragdolling ludicrously around the environment were too common to look past.
That these issues weren’t ironed out in the “definitive” edition speak volumes of the considerably small amount of effort that’s been put into this release. The resolution and framerate of the game is 1080p/30fps in both the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game, though the framerate frequently drops well below that during driving segments and other such busy gameplay scenarios. That this issue wasn’t resolved in the jump to the current-gen hardware isn’t really acceptable.
The visuals in the original Sleeping Dogs weren’t particularly jaw-dropping, and that remains the case in the Definitive Edition, though there have been some improvements made. Hong Kong looks particularly nice during periods of rainfall, with water glistening from off of its streets and splashing up realistically from underneath the wheels of your vehicle. Aside from this, the most joy to be had out of its aesthetics is its unique setting itself. With games typically tending to send us on an open-world adventure through either US states or a fantasy land (with very few exceptions), Sleeping Dogs‘ Hong Kong and all of its street vendors, neon-lit signs and historical structures is an enjoyable change of pace. Of course, it’s still the very same city you’ll be exploring, so those who had the original game won’t find anything new to appreciate here, aside from the aforementioned pretty rain.
One thing that Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition does offer, however, is all of the original game’s downloadable content. Sleeping Dogs was eventually full to the brim with DLC, and unless you got your hands on the Sleeping Dogs collection on Steam, you’d have likely missed most of it. While the selection on offer is more than a little hit-and-miss, Nightmare in North Point, which sees you fighting against zombies, and Zodiac Tournament, which is gleefully reminscent of old kung-fu flicks, are certainly high points.
However, the warts ‘n’ all addition of the game’s DLC doesn’t detract from what will be an underwhelming experience for those who have already squeezed their fun out of the original game. While the likes of The Last of Us Remastered and even Square Enix’s own Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition at least upped the ante in terms of both games’ visual fidelity, ironing out a few flaws along the way, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition features very few noteworthy improvements across the board.
That’s not to say that the game is particularly bad – those who played the original know that’s not the case – but that this package is absolutely not enough to warrant a re-purchase. The driving segments are still as fun as they were back two years ago, the combat (though somewhat derivative of the Batman Arkham series) feels weighty with punches, kicks and environmental manoeuvres landing hard and satisfactorily, and the plot takes itself just seriously enough to be engrossing – but when we’re being asked to cough up more dough for the same game we bought not so long ago, there needs to be more than just nicer looking rain for us to be convinced. Sleeping Dogs is still good, but its Definitive Edition is the laziest remaster we’ve yet seen.
Paul Tamburro is an Associate Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.
Copy provided by publisher. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is available on PS4 and Xbox One.