A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Sleeping Dogs wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.
While you play an undercover police officer in this game, it does not have a positive message. There is extreme violence, blood and gore, sexual content, foul language, and other questionable material.
Positive Role Models
Wei Shen seems like a good person, out to avenge his sister's murder and take down the Hong Kong triad from the inside, but he inflicts so much death -- including over-the-top kills using the environment -- that he shouldn't be considered a good role model. You'd think an undercover cop would be a positive role model, but not so.
Ease of Play
The game has a mandatory tutorial at the start of the game, and controlling Shen isn't so difficult. The game layers on some of the more complicated moves over time, too. That said, this game does employ all the buttons, triggers, analog sticks, and d-pad on the Xbox 360 controller (used for the purposes of this review), which might be overwhelming for some.
Violence & Scariness
The game is extremely violent, bloody, and gory. While you're fighting and killing bad guys who are part of a criminal organization, you are punching, kicking, shooting, and using the environment to kill them -- often with large amounts of blood splatter. For example, you can push someone's face into a spinning fan (and hear shrieks of pain from the victim), use a power drill to impale them, or crush their body with a metal door.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
While there is no nudity in the game, the dialogue sequences are very suggestive, including references to sex with underage girls, oral sex, rape, and torture. You don't see any of this happening -- except one or two scenes of women touching men (off-camera). You can also purchase time at a massage parlor that offers more than a backrub. Women often show lots of cleavage or wear short skirts, and are often talked to in a disrespectful way by the men in the gangs.
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The game has very strong profanity, including words like "c--t," "f--k," motherf--ker" and "s--t." This kind of language is heard often in dialogue sequences.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The game does depict scenes of drug use (such as someone snorting an illicit substance), along with people smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. The lead character doesn't do any of these however, unlike some other video games that let you choose to get drunk (and see the screen blur, etc.).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Sleeping Dogs is an extremely violent, gory, and bloody game -- including the ability to kill enemies (even unarmed ones) in a number of gruesome ways. There is also a lot of profanity, sexual innuendo, and imagery tied to consuming drugs and alcohol. Parents need to take heed of the "Mature" rating for this content that's inappropriate for young eyes and ears. Unlike Grand Theft Auto games, however, you cannot kill innocent pedestrians. This game is programmed to support "Family Settings" on video game consoles, so parents with a password could prevent this game being played by underage kids.
Is It Any Good?
For mature players who like gritty action games, Sleeping Dogs it's a blast. The martial arts fighting is the best part, even when taking on more than ten enemies at one time -- Bruce Lee-style. Early on in the game you'll learn how to punch and kick, perform chained combo moves, block and counterattack, and even grab a baddie by the lapel to toss him in to others. You can also use the environment to inflict major harm (such as smashing baddie through a payphone). Again, take heed to the game's "Mature" warning, but these imaginative and cinematic finishing moves will make you wince and laugh at the same time.
While the character animations are a little stiff, the virtual Hong Kong looks fantastic, be it the neon-lit streets (reflecting off wet pavement), bustling markets in Kowloon or jumping between rooftops, across docks, or tearing down busy roads while in pursuit of someone. Story sequences are entertaining to watch, with well-written dialogue, memorable characters, and competent voice acting (in both English and Cantonese, with subtitles). Sleeping Dogs is an extraordinarily fun –- but graphic –- interactive drama. Fans of games like Grand Theft Auto or Hong Kong action movies will no doubt find this game an enjoyable blend between the two worlds.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.