To be completely honest, I'm surprised to even see a copy of Sleeping Dogs sitting on my desk. Initially a True Crime game, it was cancelled and then eventually revived into its current incarnation. In other words, suffice it to say expectations were rather low when I first booted up this game. Despite my initial hesitance though, Sleeping Dogs is a rather good open world crime game in a market that is no longer flooded with them.
There's not really anything inherently wrong with Sleeping Dogs other than the fact that it stays very close to the mould created by the open world games that have preceded it. As is usual for these games, the core game play consists of driving around in a car that may or not belong to you, shooting some guys and doing some missions that contribute to a larger story that sticks to the same tired cliches that crime game and movies have been sticking to for countless years. Sleeping Dogs in particular follows the "Undercover cop questions his allegiances" plot just about as closely is possible, and while there are a few interesting characters involved, they can't rescue a terribly generic plot.
That being said, Sleeping Dogs is not without its unique elements. The melee combat system of the game, an afterthought in most third person action games, is the most interesting feature to be found in Sleeping Dogs. The system borrows its core elements from Batman: Arkham Asylum, allowing for blocks, counters, and disarms, along with a difficulty that slowly ramps up as you get further into the game.
In addition, while the story does tend to follow overused story beats, it takes place in a Yakuza infested Hong Kong, a far cry from the extremely generic American city found in your standard GTA type game. Even small touches brought about by this setting such as having to drive on the left side of the road instead of the right make the game unique and interesting.
On the other side of the coin, the excellent melee combat seems to have come at the cost of the gunplay. The moment you pick up a gun in Sleeping Dogs, you can almost feel the game taking a turn for the worst. Aiming never feels consistent, particularly when getting out of cover. The shooting isn't particularly terrible, but after spending several hours with the melee, it simply does not seem up to par with the rest of the game.
Realistically, you probably are not going to be playing much Sleeping Dogs after you complete the story once, and that sentiment echoes my feelings on the game as a whole. Sleeping Dogs is that kind of game that really is not exceptional in any way, but remains an extremely fun ride the entire time that you play it. In the case of Sleeping Dogs, the game has some extremely enjoyable core mechanics and a few great characters that rise to the surface amidst a sea of blandness.