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Making open world games is far from easy. The number of assets necessary to fill them is colossal. The amount of testing required to polish them is unthinkable. And unless your name is Sam or Dan Houser, whatever you make is almost always going to live in the shadow of Grand Theft Auto’s scope and brand power – unless you find a unique way to counter its supremacy.
For a brief period in the early 2010s, Sleeping Dogs was such a contender. The culmination of nearly five years of work at Vancouver-based developer United Front Games, Sleeping Dogs managed to win over players’ hearts by being modest and focused; instead of trying to be a better Rockstar game than Rockstar’s own offerings, it concentrated on nailing a setting, tone and style of combat that they had never explored before – and succeeded impressively in doing so.
Yet what was perhaps most remarkable about it was the fact that it got released at all. For the penultimate year of its development was marked by a major fracas; one that would have immediately killed it had an unexpected publisher been any less kind, its team any less passionate, and the experience it had to offer any less compelling.
This is the history of Sleeping Dogs.
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