Feb 4, 2013How did Sleeping Dogs turn out the way it did? A cancelled True Crime game with gameplay elements borrowed from everything should be terrible, not one of the best open-world games ever made. The polish on display was kind of blinding. So when I saw the Nightmare in North Point DLC on sale over the holiday, I had to jump on it. Not to get ahead of myself, but the quality of this DLC convinced me to purchase another $5′s worth as an excuse to keep playing. Quit making entertaining stuff, United Front!
If the content on offer is any indication, the idea behind the Sleeping Dogs campaign DLC seems to be fun tongue-in-cheek homages; specifically to 70s~80s Asian film genres that bled into the public consciousness of the West. Based on the various names I got while saving, Nightmare in North Point seems to be paying tribute to Big Trouble in Little China. Maybe there’s a movie about the Jiang Shi that I never saw, but the general tone of North Point matches up well with John Carpenter’s delightfully silly masterpiece. An undead Sun On Yee member, freshly escaped from Hell along with a ton of demons, has kidnapped one of Wei Shen’s one-off girlfriends. Shen does not approve, so you must send the hordes back where they came from if you ever want to get…whatever it was you wanted from Not-Ping. (It’s been a while) To do this, you must traipse across Hong Kong and gather some odd ingredients for a demon-killing tea. It’s a silly concept, but if you can’t find any humor in throwing Chinese demon/vampires into vents head first, then Sleeping Dogs was never the game for you.
Since Nightmare in North Point is an entirely different executable on the menu, the combat moves you may have unlocked during the campaign have disappeared. A few carry over you can break arms if you so desire but the basic set does its job well enough. Over the course of the DLC, you get some items back, along with a safehouse. But your arsenal never quite reaches the heights from the main game, so you may need to re-evaluate your tactics if you’ve grown too reliant on that amazing counter grapple move. As you’d expect from the name, you’re limited to exploring North Point. The rest of Hong Kong is blocked off, but you can run around the area killing Jiang Shi all you want once you’ve finished the campaign. Thankfully, all the Halloween in the world can’t dilute Sleeping Dogs’ potential for insanity. You can still grab a motorcycle and ramp it off a sports car while unrelated vehicles blow up for no reason, but now there are vampires.
Maybe the developers should have given players more tools, because this DLC is actually kind of difficult. A basic group of Jiang Shi isn’t too hard to dispatch, but when you start talking about six knife-wielding gang members and ten Jiang Shi, then we’ve got a problem. These combat scenarios feel like they were plucked from the end of the core game, but in the campaign your arsenal is far more expansive. The repetitive ‘pick up monsters and bring them over to a prompt to stop them from spawning’ missions have a tendency to slow down the game a little, but it’s not that different from dragging gangsters to have their skulls bashed in with environmental kills. As long as I’m going over flaws, it’s worth noting that I’ve heard reports of buggy scripting at least in the PC version. Everything worked fine on the Xbox 360 copy I played, but if you like playing games on your computer, keep that in mind.
I must be frank here: Nightmare in North Point is more Sleeping Dogs. There are kind of broken chases, magnificent combat, and everything else I detailed in my original review. As an excuse to mess around in this world again, you could do far worse than a genuinely fun piece of DLC. But for those of you who are looking for something more than standard open-world missions with a coat of paint worth a few chuckles, maybe you should look elsewhere.