At some point, I started playing Sleeping Dogs. I’m not sure how it happened, but there it is, next to the 360. Sleeping Dogs. I can only assume that there was a lull between finishing Darksiders II and starting Borderlands 2 and the idea of not playing a game was too much for my addict brain to handle. It knocked my conscious mind out, rented Sleeping Docs and here we are.
I’m not proud of it, but at this point in my gaming career, I can’t say that pride has much to do with anything. It’s not the act of playing Sleeping Dogs that fills me with shame, but the fact that the idea of going five days without anything to play drove me to pick it up.
Sleeping Dogs isn’t a bad game. It’s a perfectly serviceable sandbox crime game. It’s a good game to play on a Sunday morning when my wife is asleep, the dog has been walked and the kids are playing in the other room. There are enough races to complete and collectibles to gather and driving skills to master without venturing into the profanity and violence laced main missions. I try to keep my kids from seeing their father shove a thug’s face into a whirring air conditioner blade if I can avoid it. It’s the least I can do to keep their media experiences dismemberment free.
Over the course of Wei Shen’s career as undercover cop/gangster/wheelie popping scooter driver, he meets an American woman named Amanda. Amanda is waiting outside of Wei Shen’s apartment, lost and alone and looking for someone to take her to a famous Kung-Fu school. Wei is happy to oblige and upon reaching the school, he reunites with his old Kung-Fu master, gets berated by said master and learns some new combat moves. Amanda goes on her way, Wei goes on his and that’s the end of that.
Or so I thought. Seeing Amanda’s name in my phone’s contacts list, I decided to give her a ring. I didn’t want to get into some sort of dating hell pulled straight from the design documents of GTA IV, but at the same time, Amanda was voiced by Emma Stone and I can’t imagine they’d bring Emma Stone in for one silly mission involving a motorcycle and a bitter Kung-Fu master.
Amanda answered and agreed to go on a date with me, wanting me to meet her at a nearby temple. Apparently she had read about this temple in her Hong Kong guidebook and felt that the best way to experience it was to run around and have me take crappy cell phone pictures of her while she posed like an idiot. Nothing says cultural immersion like photobombing centuries old temples with your dumb, white ass.
But I digress. Upon reaching the temple and engaging in some chit chat, horror of horrors, the temple was closed. At this point, the player can either bribe the guard a thousand bucks or quit the mission. I had a bunch of cash on me with nothing to spend it on, so I paid the guard and proceeded to chase Amanda around the temple, snapping picture after stupid picture.
After about five minutes, Amanda was satisfied with my photographic efforts and the mission was over. As missions go, it was pretty silly, even by RPG and open world fetch quest standards. The reward though, made the silliness entirely worth it. Scattered throughout Hong Kong are health shrines. If you visit a shrine and pray at it, you get a health bar refill. Pray at five of them and you get a 10% boost in your health bar. Find all of the shrines in Hong Kong and you get 100% more health. By completing this mission with Amanda, all health shrines were unlocked on my mini-map and game map, meaning I wouldn’t have to drive around aimlessly looking for them, or game with one eye on the laptop.
In effect, what I had done, was pay $1000 bucks to unlock the health shrine locations. I had paid for a cheat, yet Sleeping Dogs figured that I probably wouldn’t pay for such a cheat had they just put it in some menu option on my phone, or made it some magic watch I bought at the Night Market. It was smart enough to hide it within a mission and then make it look like a reward for following Amanda around.
On the one hand, this was a pretty smooth move. Had it been a cheat for purchase, I probably would have skipped it. I tend to be a hoarder in these games and if the information is available online, why not just save some coin and do a little extra work? That being said, it’s pretty dang convenient to bring up your map, set a waypoint and be on your way to increased health. On the other hand, as every other mission rewards you in experience that increases one of three different meters, getting some silly shrine locations for your thousand bucks might be a letdown for people who don’t care about increased health. Those people are probably a lot better at the game’s combat than I am.
I’m glad that Sleeping Dogs didn’t make me feel dirty for buying a cheat, or worse, charged actual money to unlock all of the health shrine locations. I get more health, get to save my dignity and Sleeping Dogs gets more than five minutes worth of voice acting out of Emma Stone. I’d say everyone wins.