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Sleeping Dogs (PS3)

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Accessibility At A Glance Sleeping Dogs (PS3)


Precision > No You will need precision to play
One-Handed > No Avoid this game
Deaf Gamers > No Avoid this game Game
Subtitles > No You may want to move past this game
Colorblind > No Not so sure this is the game for you

About the Game

Square Enix
Release Date
August 14, 2012
Licence Category


Inspired by classic Hollywood and Asian cinema style action thrillers, Sleeping Dogs is a gritty open-world cop drama set in the vibrant city of Hong Kong. Sleeping Dogs catapults players into the role of undercover cop Wei Shen, tasked with taking down one of the world’s most fearsome criminal organizations from the inside... the Hong Kong Triads. As players explore the bustling and crowded Hong Kong island, through its neon-lit side streets and sprawling street markets, an incredible story unfolds of loyalty and betrayal where Wei begins to question his own motives as he is sucked in deeper than he could ever imagine.

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Sleeping Dogs (PS3)
Sleeping Dogs (PS3)
Sleeping Dogs (PS3)

Editor review

Sleeping Dogs (PS3) 2013-01-13 00:10:08 Rob McCaulley
Overall rating 
Rob McCaulley Reviewed by Rob McCaulley    January 13, 2013
Last updated: January 13, 2013
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Sleeping Dogs

I really was looking forward to Sleeping Dogs, and now I’m not at all looking forward to writing this review because a game I was so looking forward to is such a black hole of accessibility. United Front and Square Enix put a game worthy of a score of 2 in front of me and now I need to write a review about Sleeping Dogs, Red Bulls and the number two without making all the obvious jokes. Not cool – not at all cool.

In all seriousness, the first thing wrong with Sleeping Dogs is that the game has no failure limiter meaning that any number of things can be the end of the road for players with no hope of ever passing the one thing that might give them a problem the entire game through and some of those things can be extremely trivial and extremely insulting to have to say “I couldn’t go any further because I couldn’t tune a radio in a video game.

Some of those trivialities include: picking locks – key and combination both, tuning radios. These potential mini-games are first introduced as story mission inclusions that are necessary to story completion of the game. Theses torturous inclusions are for the most part timed, and for the most part call for copious amounts of precision – the slight spasticity I have in my hands was enough to twitch the stick enough to fail more than a couple of these things. They’re found throughout the game in story missions and side missions.

There are a lot of missions that call for both timing and precision; driving missions aren’t entirely easy; the streets and areas players are asked to go as fast as possible through are sometimes a bit on the narrow side with obstacles to get in their way if going fast wasn’t sometimes enough to do players in. It should be noted that not all races/chases happen on wheels, they sometimes happen on-foot which adds another dimension to the act of racing.
Wei, the guy who’s shoulder any potential players would be looking over’s shoulder, is a free-runner and makes use of it quite frequently; though there is unlimited sprint to power Wei through just about any situation, the act of leaping up a wall can be clumsy unless players correctly time pressing the cross button. If all goes well, Wei will slide very smoothly over certain obstacles, but if not, it could mean a failed mission, and failed missions mean potentially failing the game.

Another big mistake was to not include a remap-able control scheme, or at minimum alternates. The control scheme is setup in such a way that a one-handed player would definitely need assistive technology in order to play as there are sequences in the game which call for players to have control of both sticks, L2, R2, and the cross button. As is the case, failure to complete these necessary missions can lead to a figurative game over.

Absent of almost any hint of increased accessibility is the options menu where the nearly useless control layout can be found among the abilities to turn on and off the ever tedious subtitles, movements having to do with the pitch and yaw of the right and left stick can also be adjusted, and quite possibly helpful to some is the brightness slider.

On the topic of absence, hearing accessibility barely showed up for the party; captioning is non-existent. Not every sound needs to be captioned in a game like this, there are just too many things going on to get it all, but that’s not to say that hearing impaired players wouldn’t like to know – even if they are speaking Chinese that the two mouth-breathers were just run over were in fact talking to one another and not exercising their gills.

Speaking of speaking Chinese, a significant number of characters met throughout Sleeping Dogs speak Chinese as either their primary language or use it for choice words and phrases. While this is an awesome part of the game, it’s not awesome not knowing what characters vital to the story are saying when the subtitles used suck the fun out of the back and forth making the ability to skip cut-scenes and absolute joy.

Adding to the compounding list of things wrong with the subtitles is their lack of a solid background for the subtitles to call home instead of possibly intermingling with some sort of hard-to-read, free-radical in the form of a black and white checkerboard floor that might be found in a restaurant kitchen.

Possibly the most distressing part of the subtitles’ design is the lack of real-estate for them to occupy; they don’t seem to be given as much space as a subtitle that might be found in most any other game yet United Front and Square Enix said “we can go smaller still!” and did. It is really something that is hard to form into words, but the subtitles are small to the point of fitting four lines of dialogue from two different characters onscreen all at once with a generous space between them at times because you know, you wouldn’t want people that need something to be confused.

Which leads to the next point of detraction – not at minimum, making it clear which character is speaking and if it appears at the top or the bottom of the space allotted for subtitles? Is the guy? Is it the girl? Is the speaker even on screen? That in mind, it is especially important to know that if the bottom of the screen where hardly any action ever, in any game takes place, other than the subtitles that it is essential to label the speakers, and as more and more characters’ speech appears at the bottom of the screen, the more important it becomes to do so.

Finally, lastly is the font style used; it looks horrible in both English and Chinese. Be it due to the black and white font combination used, the size, the lack of a letterbox, some combination of all or what, but the subtitles in Sleeping Dogs look like hot, steaming trash not unlike the trash that can be seen in the alleys, by dumpsters in Sleeping Dogs.

By traditional game standards, Sleeping Dogs is a great game and anyone with the desire should be able to, unfortunately that isn’t the case. United Front and Square Enix give the Ablegamers audience very little to work with to increase their ability to play.

At a glance:
Mobility = 2.6/10
~There is a lot of button mashing in this game; button mashing appears as combo-based combat asking players to press and hold buttons in combination to increase their chance of success in a fight. Fights can be won using other tactics as well.
~This game is in love with its mini-games which range from hacking video feeds to picking locks to adjusting radio frequencies – ranging in difficulty from least to greatest.
Precision is also called for when aiming a gun which can call for varied degrees of precision as there are times when players will be shooting at normal game time and with the clock running at a slower rate. There is no distinction between the two (ex: color at normal speed, gray scale while slowed.)
~There are also races which ask players to sometimes race through narrow spaces at higher rates of speed.
~Control schemes are preset.
~There are numerous quicktime events in this game, but they are generous with the time allotted for reaction before failure and are usually limited to one press of a button.
~There is no sign of a sensitivity control for the joystick or aiming. The game does offer pitch and yaw adjustments for both the camera and aiming.
~Timing of movements matter more in regard to combat and free-running than they do elsewhere; both call for fairly well timed actions/reactions or the character won’t do exactly what is called for at that moment.
~As stated above, this game loves its mini-games, but more than the others, timing and precision are both called upon greatly to tune a radio frequency to exactly where it needs to be, and to where it needs to be held.
~A number of missions have asked that they be completed in a set amount of time.
~The only game assist is a so-called 50-ft. lock aiming which is sometimes an aim assist within a certain distance but sometimes not.

Visual = 2.2/10
~For the most part the game operates in high contrast; a few low points for the game are the menus, the mini-map’s highlighted route, and the GPS’s arrows which highlight the route at intersections and locations. The full sized map leaves a lot to be desired as well.
~Colorblind options are not available specifically, however if adjusting screen brightness helps, it is available in the options menu.
~Subtitles are not easily read at all; they are not letterboxed, the small font used sometimes spans the dialogue of multiple characters which is not differentiated in the least, and English and Chinese are both spoken.
~Yellow and red are the colors primarily used for the menus in this game with only the other color separating it from itself, plus the size chosen for the fonts is small to an almost insulting degree.
~Red, but not green are used during combat in order to alert the player to an attacking enemy. Though It is undetectable, it is still an unchangeable red.

Hearing = 1/10
~Subtitles in this game are ridiculous; the font size used is about five times smaller than it should be. Up to five lines can appear on screen at a time and might span characters which are not identified even when characters don’t appear onscreen to let players know who might be speaking instead of just guessing. There is no letterboxing for the black outlined, white bodied subtitles to seek refuge from the backdrops they might find themselves on. To make matters worse, about half of the subtitles are in unchangeable Chinese which presents more visual issues than hearing, but should be mentioned along subtitles for obvious reasons (no points deducted from hearing score for this reason.)
~Ambient noise is not included – not even ambient awkward silence.
~No visual cues to accompany the confusing audio cues featured in this game.
~The game can be successfully completed with a hearing disability, but when the game offers so little hearing accessibility that the player should look forward to providing their own story, what’s the point of investing the time to do so? Roughly, the game might be a rental – if it’s lucky.

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About the Author
Rob McCaulley
I'm Rob McCaulley, one of the staff writers here on AbleGamers. (Thank you for the oppertunity.)

People in this conversation

  • Totally agree with you on this game being very poor for disabled people.

    Just wish I'd read this review before buying the game, at least I bought it second hand though from eBay so didn't spend too much on it.

    I have Dyspraxia, Asperger's and ADHD and find the hand-eye co-ordination in some parts of the game really hard, especially when trying to battle some of the baddies and you need to keep an eye on the one that turns red and press the Y button just at the precise time or else your lying on the floor as a punishment for being dyspraxic, and before you know it your in hospital using the money you've earned to buy that sports car for hospital bills.

    A really frustrating game and very badly designed. I was surprised that there is no "difficulty" option on it to make it a bit more easier for people with disabilities, clearly Square Enix is a company that doesn't give a damn about disabled gamers. This is the first Square Enix game I've ever bought as I saw the Final Fantasy games but was never overly impressed by them, and I'll certainly be thinking twice about buying another Square Enix game.

    Btw if you want a similar style game that is much more fun and far easier for people with disabilities I'd highly recommend The Saboteur, it's set in Germany rather than China, but it's a lot more fun and a lot better designed.

  • Thanks for reading as well as for your feedback. Sorry to hear you had to find out about Sleeping Dogs via first-hand experience. Square Enix is horrible at accessibility, and unfortunately they keep putting out really lackluster games for people with disabilities. We can only hope one day it changes, but until then, AG will be here to report on all the deuces they release.

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