I'm starting to realise that the amount I'll enjoy an open-world game is pretty much based entirely on how badly I want to visit the game's main location in real life.
Grand Theft Auto V is clearly a better game than IV in almost every way, and yet IV held my attention in ways that its sequel couldn't because I'd really like to visit New York one day, while Los Angeles holds almost no appeal for me whatsoever. I'd happily go for walks in Liberty City with the sound turned up, appreciating the world in ways you can't when you're speeding through it in a car you've just twocked. In Los Santos, getting anywhere just felt like a pain in the arse.
Hong Kong sits alongside New York on the list of places I'd like to see but will almost never be able to afford to, so I have to make do with playing Sleeping Dogs instead.
The new 'Definitive Edition' of the game that Square-Enix have just trumped out is a bit of a weird one; for folk like me it's a fine excuse to dive back into a genuinely excellent game that they got halfway through, got distracted by something else, then returned to it months later and realised they had no fucking clue what was going on anymore and ran out of steam with it. For those of you who have played the original to death, make no mistake: this is a bit of a shite cash-in.
If you're playing on the PS4 or Xbox One, it certainly looks nicer than the original last-gen version. Not quite in the right ways, mind you - everything's shinier and the textures have been sharpened up a bit in places, but a lack of shine and blurry textures aren't necessarily the things that make last-gen games look crap, contrary to what we're told. Your man Wei Shen still aggressively barges people out of his way when he's just sauntering around a market, and characters repeatedly run around in circles because the pathfinding AI is struggling to point them towards a car door that's about two metres away. It's only been two years since Sleeping Dogs' original release, and yet these things are now incredibly jarring to look at. But hey, those roads now look super wet when it rains.
Thing is, if you're playing on the PC, you've already had access to the sharper textures since day one, so the only extra stuff you're looking at is a bit of DLC and some bug fixes. And Squeenix want to run you a full tenner for an 'upgrade' if you already own the original, which is some max-power bollocks. I mean, I really like the game, but please do consider not paying a tenner for some bug fixes or they'll keep pulling this shit.
Still, there's a chance you've never even played the game before. You should! In the olden days we called all open-world games 'GTA clones', but I'm saying this in 2014: Sleeping Dogs is a GTA clone. But it's one with the hand-to-hand combat from Arkham Asylum and the brillianly daft airjacking shit from Vin Diesel's staggeringly underrated Wheelman, wrapped up in an interesting tale of an undercover cop moving up the ranks of a Triad gang. Yes, the plot sounds like an obvious way to get in on Rockstar's 'thug with a heart of gold' steeze, but the way in which Wei Shen has to find a balance between his duties as a cop and a gang member works as a metaphor for his struggle with his own cultural identity as a man born in China then raised in America from a young age.
For a game almost completely lacking in original ideas, it's a little bit smarter than you've likely given it credit for. Just give that £10 PC version upgrade a swerve, eh?