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Sleeping Dogs: A risky gamble

The game formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong learns from Batman in an attempt to better GTA

The latest issue of Xbox World is on sale now.

This used to be Activision's True Crime: Hong Kong, deemed by the publisher not strong enough to release. It's now Square Enix's Sleeping Dogs, accompanied by fancy big-budget trailer. So other than the name, what's new? We flew to its setting, Hong Kong, to find out.

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We're promised an adult, twisting storyline featuring detective Wei Shen going undercover within a Triad organisation. Over the course of a three-mission hands-on, what leaps out is the hand-to-hand combat and accompanying violence. United Front Games has cribbed from Batman's Arkham outings - heavy and light attacks string combos together, and icons appear above enemies' heads, instructing you when to go for a counter. You can also drag goons over to objects that glow red then, say, slice their face open with a power tool. You don't see The Dark Knight doing that.

We also get to test some free-running during a foot chase through busy Hong Kong streets. It's a basic system which involves tapping face buttons to negotiate objects, but it keeps things cinematic in a way that bumping off the corner of every passing building (Hi Niko!) never did. Ultimately Sleeping Dogs looks like it might prove both publishers, former and current, wrong. Its qualities mean that the game undoubtedly deserves to see the light of day, but we'd question whether they are sufficient to justify the game's bombastic re-launch.

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