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Jason Clement posted a topic in General Game Discussionhttp://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1295545 There's no official report on this yet (as far as I'm aware of), but word has leaked out onto NeoGAF that United Front Games has officially shut down as of yesterday. United Front Games was mostly known for Sleeping Dogs, but they also did Modnation Racers, LittleBigPlanet Karting, and worked on Xbox One ports for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Their latest game, Smash + Grab just released recently too, but it looks like it didn't do well enough for the studio to succeed. In any case, condolences go out to those affected. It sucks that a studio closure has to happen out of the blue like this, but it's a rough industry, apparently. Anyone else sad to see them go?
Developer: United Front Games Publisher: Square Enix Platform: PS3, XBOX 360, PC ESRB: M for Mature Release Date: Out Now This review is based on the PC version of the game A Triad thug charges you, carving knife in hand. He stands in a gang of six men; some armed, some not. All of them look like they want to make you into swiss cheese. How do you respond? If you're Wei Shen, you'd likely break the knife-wielders arm, throw him into a dumpster, and use the liberated sharp edge against the rest of the gangsters. Feel like punching and kicking? Go ahead, because Square Enix's Sleeping Dogs wants you to feel like the kick-butt street warrior you've always wanted to be. As an undercover cop hustling the crowded streets of Hong Kong, life is understandably difficult for Wei. He can't seem to find a stable girlfriend, avoid the cops (who are technically on his side), or escape the endless Triad warfare. Wei's singular reason for returning to the fabled city (after a stint in the US) is to infiltrate and destroy the Sun On Yee Triad, one of Hong Kong's most dangerous crime organizations. To accomplish his goal, Wei must work through the ranks of the gang, starting from the low-level enforcer. It's a thankless job, beating up rival gang members and all, and is only made awesome by the incredible melee system developer United Front Games has instituted. Those who've played Batman: Arkham City will immediately feel at home with the organic, simplistic control scheme. Wei has a light and heavy attack. If an enemy tries their own moves, they'll turn red and can be countered with a bone-cracking stunner. Wei can also grapple opponents and throw them into environmental hazards. Checking out that engine block suspended over a car? Throw a guy beneath it. See that batch of swordfish heads on the ground? Toss a gang-banger on top. Sleeping Dogs isn't subtle about its violence, and it doesn't need to be. After all, this is the most awesome gangster/kung-fu/open world game I've ever seen! Since it's open-world, there's obviously going to be a means of transportation. For Wei, cars are the best option as they handle like arcade racers. Players can easily nail drifts and aggressive auto assaults with the intuitive car handling. It helps to emphasize the sense of speed and style Sleeping Dogs so successfully pulls off. The car handling is also useful when Wei needs to hit the streets in a race. If you've played Burnout, you'll feel right at home here. It's a brilliant design choice that makes driving a joy rather than a chore. The melee and driving mechanics are great, but Sleeping Dogs isn't as slick in the shooting department. It's sometimes hard to target enemies and the controls are mapped to unusual buttons. Since I'm on PC, I was forced to hold shift when I wanted to zoom in. While you eventually get used to this quirk, it's not the most fun thing to deal with when 10 Triad footsoldiers are (literally) gunning for your head! The other quirk in Sleeping Dogs is the parkour system. While it's easy enough for Wei to climb up buildings and vault over objects, it may not have been the best idea to map that to the same button as the sprint ability. I've flubbed a number of table vaults simply because I wasn't fast enough to tap the key to jump over an object. It's not a problem in most games....except it costs you Cop points in Sleeping Dogs. Wait, Cop points? To give players a guiding system for managing their level of brutality, UFG has instituted the superb Cop and Triad experience system. Cop points are earned by not hitting civilians while driving and generally obeying the law. Triad points are earned by beating opponents into a bloody pulp. The more creative your kills, the more points you earn. Both Cop and Triad points help to level up Wei's combat system. At low levels, Wei is restricted to simple kicks and punches. At higher levels, Wei can vault over cover, tackle a guy, and take his gun in one swift kill. It pays in dividends to work with the system in equal measures. While the Cop-Triad system is mechanically great, it helps to enforce the larger sense of conflict brewing within Wei. Since he's technically a cop, he's supposed to limit the carnage and body count. But as a rival gang squeezes his buddies for territory and he begins to fall into the Triad lifestyle, the lines between cop and gang member are blurred. Taking down the real enemy will test Wei's resolve as he's forced to decide whether loyalty to the Sun On Yee is worth the asking price. Should he be the cop he's supposed to? Or should he join his new 'family' and take on the role of gang leader? Regardless of the choices the player makes, there's only one conclusion to Wei's story. Suffice it to say that it's worth beating the 13-14 hour campaign to see the end. I had a blast with the deep combat system and intriguing narrative. While the game may seem like another Grand Theft Auto clone, don't make the mistake of passing Sleeping Dogs by. It does many things better than Rockstar did, and for good reason. This is a high-octane gangster flick in video game form; not an emotionally-charged trip through crime purgatory. Once you've gotten your kicks from the melee system, you'll also notice just how great Sleeping Dogs looks and sounds. Visually, Hong Kong is gorgeous. Rain-slick streets glisten in the neon-lit metropolis and hundreds of residents go about their business as you'd expect real folks to. Their ambient chatter, full of entertaining news, often involves events you were responsible for. It's a great feeling to know you're having some sort of tangible impact on the game world. I must also applaud UFG for using real Cantonese for a number of characters. It adds an element of immersion and realism that I find lacking in many other titles. While nothing in Sleeping Dogs is truly realistic, it still feels grounded in a believable world. In the time between major releases from a certain open-world crime thriller series, few titles can step up to fill the void. Sleeping Dogs is one of the few games that can. It crams more action and intrigue into the relatively-short main story than most open-world titles could dream of. Even the revered Saints Row franchise has something to fear in UFG's masterpiece. While imperfect at times, Sleeping Dogs is one thrill ride worth experiencing! Pros: + The deep combat system + A great, if simple narrative + Visually stunning at times + Lots to see and do + Great audio and characters Cons: - Controls are oddly mapped - Some small glitches - The shooting isn't superb Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic If you're an action-junkie, this is a great title to dig into!
I'll admit it; when I first heard of the newest entry to the True Crime series, I let out a groan. I thought to myself, "Another flawed open-world crime game? I think I'll pass." It wasn't until I got a better view of just how awesome True Crime: Hong Kong (renamed Sleeping Dogs) is that I realized I'd made a huge mistake in passing it off. Sleeping Dogs is a gritty, violent, mature open-world action that game that features a whole host of illicit activities, a deep melee system, and a truly impressive recreation of Hong Kong. What's not to like? Sleeping Dogs follows Wei Shen, an undercover cop, as he infiltrates a triad to try and destroy it from the inside. To gain the triad's trust, Wei must do the gang's bidding and kill, steal, maim, intimidate, and dismantle Hong Kong's rival triads. How he does this is up to the player. Whether you want to shove people into fans or chop at enemy gangbangers with meat cleavers is up to you. United Front Games has implemented an extraordinary hand-to-hand combat system that allows Wei to utilize the latest in martial arts techniques. Using a simple scheme of Attack, Grapple, and Counter, Wei can disarm opponents and break every bone in their bodies. If karate-chopping isn't your thing, the undercover brother is also proficient with firearms, though I feel you'll be missing out on some of the greatest-looking melee combat to grace a video game. Wei can also use the environment to his advantage by throwing enemies onto sharp poles, grinding them in fans, or lighting them on fire (among other things). Yeah, Sleeping Dogs is bloody. While Sleeping Dogs is all about brutal, graphic violence, there are plenty of other activities for Wei to partake in. He can run cockfights, race against street rivals, date women, and generally cause a ruckus about the city. What's really piqued my curiosity is how Wei's status as a cop will affect his reactions to life as triad member. Will he be rattled by difficult moral conundrums, be driven to bloodlust by killing, embrace his identity as a triad member, or become something inhuman? While UFG and publishers Square Enix haven't focused on Wei's development, morality and evolving Wei's character will likely be integral components of the experience. If UFG can pull it off, Sleeping Dogs may be the most compelling open-world crime drama to hit the markets in a long time. Like many other gamers, I passed Sleeping Dogs off as another generic open-world game. After Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, it's hard for me to imagine playing another criminal underworld-driven title. But Sleeping Dogs has done the impossible. By crafting a complex, rewarding combat system and a thriving version of Hong Kong teeming with new experiences, UFG and Square Enix have gotten my attention. I can't wait until the mid-August release date hits; I'm really looking forward to experiencing Wei Shen's Machiavellian approach to justice. Look for Sleeping Dogs on August 14, 2012. Still not convinced that the close quarters combat is awesome? Check out the trailer below!