#2) The Level System
The level system is particularly unique and engaging, as well. You have five skill trees: Cop, Triad, Melee, Face, and Health. For each story mission you start, you start with a full cop meter that slowly drains as you damage property or civilians. Your Triad meter slowly fills as you beat up mooks. Your Face meter fills as you complete side missions: Go on dates, sing karaoke, do favors, win races, and so on. Melee is leveled up as you find jade statues around the city. And your health meter rises as you find shrines to pray at. You will need every single one of these perks.
It’s a clever way to motivate you to play carefully and spend time exploring while still rewarding you for beating people up and getting you to play the side missions.
#1) How It All Gels With The Story
The best part about this is how it pushes forward the story. In the end Sleeping Dogs is very much a Hong Kong action drama and everything you do pushes forward the story. As you rise from low level scumbag/barely trusted undercover cop to respected Triad member/vital source of intel, it explores the conflicts inherent and the ethical problems any undercover cop has to face. More than once, you’re going to accidentally get some poor bastard killed. And it’s going to eat at you. The story itself is fairly outlandish, although not to the excesses some games go to, but the characters are grounded and believable.
In short, it’s an excellent game with a better story. Play it, you won’t be sorry.