Friday, February 1, 2013

My Games of 2012 - Number One

1.  Sleeping Dogs

For all my hand-wringing and second-guessing, it was more or less never about this game.  I didn't go into voting with the express intention of putting Sleeping Dogs in my number one spot, though I wasn't at all surprised when I put it there.  It felt right, because goddamnit I really love this game.  Of course, you all know that because I have gone on and on about it over the last year when I was playing through, finishing and absolutely completing it.  So, much in the same vein as how I covered AssLib, I would like to re-post some of the bigger sentiments I had about the game and then talk a little bit more about how my perceptions have changed and such with time, given that I haven't actually put a lot of time back into the game after Platinum'ing it, due to, you know, there being a whole hell of a lot of games that I've had to play in the recent months.
So I'll just throw this down to get this started:  I love this game.  I pretty much love everything -about- Sleeping Dogs and I am actually a little surprised that I enjoy it quite as much as I do.  But I really do, I throw hours after hours into playing it and never get bored - I just get tired or I just have to really do something -else-, but the game is easily one that I could see myself marathonning sometime down the road for no purpose other than to enjoy it all over again.  I never do that outside of cases where, like, my save got lost or there was a trophy patch or something of that sort because I simply don't have the time.  But I would -make- the time if the time was right to replay Sleeping Dogs from scratch.

Obviously what differentiates Sleeping Dogs from just about every other open world game out there is that it is a game that fully intends for you to play it using melee.  Yes, there are shooting bits, sometimes even with cover involved, but let me let you in on a little secret:  If you're playing Sleeping Dogs by plinking away at dudes from cover, you're being a pussy.  Guns are not guns in Sleeping Dogs, but power-ups, things that you use to take out a few guys while running at a pack, as you might use, say, the hammer in Super Smash Bros.  Best usage of guns in the game is not taking cover and popping up, but vaulting and getting that sweet sweet slow-mo going.  Vault and run at your enemies and make sure they all get a new hole for a third eye to keep it going, but more importantly, to be the baddest fucking Wei Shen you can be.  If you can effectively take out a room of guards who keep flooding in without staying in cover for more than a second at a time between setting off slow-mo vaults then congratulations, you are using guns in Sleeping Dogs the correct way. 
One of my own personal favorite environmental bits is not any of these types of things, but rather just using gravity effectively for fun and profit.  There's not -very- many areas where it's viable, but with the useage of the grapple-dash and the running throw, you can turn an uppity gangster into a projectile aimed at a car twenty feet below and that, my friends, is a rush.  I never have hit a car yet, but as far as instant kills go, getting a running start and throwing a guy off what is basically just a covered bridge over a road is something that I could suggest will never get old.  Even when you don't have the unabashed freedom to throw them directly off, having the ability to, after wearing a foe down, basically clothesline them over a railing to the road below or what have you is still fun in itself.  Similarly fun, but rather confusing, is the fact that the game suffers from a case of the protagonist being the only man alive who knows how to swim.  That means anyone who hits the water instantly dies.  And when you have a lot of areas where there's water and no real barricade around it....well, I'm sure you can imagine just where that leads.
The true beauty of Sleeping Dogs, for me, is that I am retroactively nostalgic for this game already.  I just 'finished' the game earlier today, but I remember all sorts of things as you would only remember a game from years gone past, with the same amount of fondness involved.
I should start by saying that, all of that?  Still true.  Still definitely true and, in many ways, even moreso now than it was then.  I have been itching in the worst way to actually just start playing Sleeping Dogs over again from scratch and I can tell you right now that, when I do, it will not be the last time I do it. I look forward to embracing the acquisition of power almost as much as I anticipate having it, and will enjoy being able to employ Wei Shen's full arsenal again.  After earning it all over once more.  Sleeping Dogs is definitely a game where they journey is just as much fun as the destination, as they say, and even when you reach the destination, there's still plenty of things to do with the many collectibles that the game has (which is will give you maps to in a sense) as well as the fight clubs and random mooks on the streets to use your skills against.

What really gets to me, I think, is how absolutely in its own league that Sleeping Dogs truly is.  There's just no other Melee-focused open-world game out there on the market.  Possibly Arkham City, I suppose, but I haven't played that just yet and it'll likely be a while before I do so.  Even the Yakuza games aren't completely Open-world, nor do their battles exist in the map itself (just yet), so that's a different case as well.  Yet, rather than being something that wears out its welcome, Sleeping Dogs shows us how rewarding something of its kind can be.  It eschews that which a lot of games have made almost standard for this generation in gun combat for something a lot more technical, visceral and, in my own opinion, enjoyable.

I'm not going to go on and on here as I've done that more than enough in the past.  Sleeping Dogs is my Game of 2012 by virtue of being the game I enjoyed the most and the game I found most important because of what it did.  Though it may not completely and totally overshadow other games, especially the others on my list, it has that certain something, that special quality that makes me gravitate towards it.  If you haven't gotten yourself a copy of it, then what the hell are you waiting for?  Go out and procure, return home and savor it.  Enjoy it.  Even if you have bought and played it, give consideration to dipping into its pleasures once more.  I know I will, because the game is a rare treat and one to savor from time to time.

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