X360A Review: Sleeping Dogs' Year of the Snake DLC
Written Friday, March 15, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Leaving behind his undercover work infiltrating the Triad crime organisation, Wei Shen is finally back on the streets in Sleeping Dogs' first proper story-driven add-on. Nightmare in North Point and The Zodiac Tournament don't really count, as they don't really continue the story in any meaningful way. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake does, picking up where the main game's story left off, with Shen demoted to street cop when the higher-ups on the force disapprove of his methods. Donning the blue uniform, Shen starts out dealing with parking infractions, petty disputes and other low-level crimes, before things kick off.
Embarking in an on-foot chase, Wei Shen gets into more than he bargained for, as he becomes embroiled in a not all that elaborate bomb plot masterminded by Master Chu and his maniacal Cult of the Snake. Unlike the truncated Nightmare in North Point and the incredibly brief Zodiac Tournament, Year of the Snake takes place in Sleeping Dogs' full, undiluted Hong Kong city, which makes it feel like the largest DLC yet, when in fact it's comparable in length to Nightmare in North Point, with a handful of main missions and side quests to complete.
There's still a good two to three hours of content here though, which for the price tag is still pretty fine value. From a story standpoint, Year of the Snake plays to all of Sleeping Dogs' strengths, with a neat slice of shooting, car and boat chases, and the odd smattering of martial arts combat; arguably the game's best bit. The narrative also introduces a nice sense of urgency to proceedings, as bomb threats pop up around the city, bouncing Wei Shen from pillar to post as he tears around Hong Kong in an effort to foil Master Chu's insane plans.
As stories go, Year of the Snake's is relatively straightforward, as you make your way through Chu's cultists, arresting them, zapping them with Shen's standard issue electroshock pistol or simply beating the snot out of them with your fists of fury. You'll gradually zone in on the Master himself, as you follow the leads from his bomb-making warehouses to his hideout, as the clock ticks down towards the advent of the Chinese New Year, and the apparent end of the world that the Cult of the Snake has prophesied.
A few more side missions and distractions wouldn't have gone amiss in Year of the Snake, as the story portion alone will take you about 2 hours to finish, while the side stuff will keep you playing for about another hour or so. There's suspicious vehicles to dispose of, a few favors to perform and even some indecent behaviour to stamp out. Arrest that dirty git, the first chance you get. You'll know what we mean when you see him.
Year of the Snake has some great moments, from taking down cultists with extreme prejudice in your SWAT gear, equipped with a teargas grenade launcher and a telescopic truncheon, to engaging in a frantic boat chase taking out cultists with a hefty assault rifle. Completing the DLC also unlocks a whole raft of goodies to take back into the main story, adding even more value to the content. New stat challenges will keep you occupied too, as will collecting all of the hidden evidence bags scattered around Hong Kong.
There's achievements attached to this lot too, so unlike the previous Zodiac Tournament DLC, which should have had achievements but didn't, Year of the Snake encourages you to go for all the evidence bags and complete all of the side quests and favors. The achievements are pretty standard fare, so you won't have to strive for any more stat awards like you did in the main game or in Nightmare in North Point. Simply completing the DLC and grabbing the evidence bags will net you the full 100 Gamerscore.
While we'd love to see a truly massive Sleeping Dogs expansion, Year of the Snake is another strong dose of DLC that provides more than adequate entertainment and enjoyment at a low price. Would we pay more for something bigger? Definitely. Are we going to baulk at numerous fun add-on packs, cheaply priced? Hell, no. Especially when they're as enjoyable as Year of the Snake.