X360A Review: Sleeping Dogs' The Zodiac Tournament DLC
Written Thursday, December 20, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Inspired by 1970s kung-fu movies - most notably 1973's Enter the Dragon – the latest slice of DLC for Sleeping Dogs adds a new island just off the north east coast of the game's fictitious Hong Kong, where nefarious goings on demand investigation. Enter undercover cop and martial arts master, Wei Shen. As stories go, The Zodiac Tournament is fairly flimsy and paper thin, simply presenting you with the eponymous Zodiac island, its nefarious tournament organiser, Dr. Zhang and a selection of martial arts experts to show your fists of fury.
Starting with Wei Shen arriving at the island on a ferry, The Zodiac Tournament has you meeting your fellow combatants before running between several arenas where you'll battle rival competitors. And that's about the long and short of it. There's not really a whole lot to The Zodiac Tournament in terms of content, with five arenas to fight through and roughly no more than two hours of gameplay. For the price however, it's still a neat if somewhat lacking slice of DLC.
It does however play to Sleeping Dogs' strengths, giving Wei Shen a nice workout for his versatile and agile fighting skills, presenting differing challenges with each opponent you face. If you're tackling The Zodiac Tournament without upgrading all of Shen's abilities, you're likely to struggle too, with later combat arenas proving remarkably demanding without the requisite stat boosts, abilities or upgrades. That said, with an almost fully upgraded Wei Shen, we breezed through the add-on in well under two hours.
Taking into account that the DLC also adds new MMA and Muay Thai outfits, new moves and a damage bonus once you've collected the 11 hidden fire opal statues dotted around the island, the price tag does actually represent decent enough value. Factor in the option to return to Zodiac island at any time to gain more combat experience, and you have something that's almost worthwhile. Although, once you've beaten the story once, you might not necessarily be all that compelled to go back immediately.
It's the kung-fu movie stylings that make The Zodiac Tournament so appealing, with a nice bit of film grain during cut-scenes, a funky 70s-style soundtrack and a few cheesy lines of dialogue to enjoy. Though structurally simplistic, it does more than enough to hold your attention and it is fun while it lasts, which makes it all the more galling that it doesn't last a bit longer. Some added story development and extra missions could have gone a long way to making this a more attractive proposition, rather than a largely disposable and fairly non-essential piece of DLC. We'd have happily paid extra for something more substantial in the same mould with additional narrative.
Throw in the fact that the DLC is entirely bereft of achievements, and The Zodiac Tournament becomes even less worthwhile than it might have otherwise been. It's structured in such a way that a few simple achievements would have worked wonders too, even if they were basic “defeat opponent X”, “defeat opponent Y” and “collect all of the fire opal statues” achievements. Anything is better than nothing where achievements are concerned, especially given that this is supposed to be a proper piece of story-driven content.
At face value, Sleeping Dogs' The Zodiac Tournament represents reasonable value if you're happy to while away an hour or two giving Wei Shen a kung-fu workout, and there's certainly enough incentive in the bonuses to make it worth a spin. But given the potential on show here in its 70s kung-fu referencing, with nods to classic martial arts flicks, you can't help but feel that it's a huge missed opportunity. The Zodiac Tournament is simply a succession of combat arenas with scant exposition and story thinly spread in between, making for a fun, but ultimately rather disappointing jaunt. Should you enter The Zodiac Tournament then? Maybe, but only if you have the time and inclination to bust a few heads.