Developer: United Front Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
While Sleeping Dogs had a few DLC campaigns, up until now none of them have been canonical. Year of the Snake changes that, being a direct follow up to Sleeping Dogs’ main story. Sadly, while more Sleeping Dogs sounds good on paper, Year of the Snake doesn’t do anything worth celebrating.
After the events of Sleeping Dogs the higher ups in the police force are not happy with Wei Shen’s path of destruction that he leaves behind him all the time. As such they basically demote him to a regular beat cop. Despite this Wei Shen accidentally stumbles upon a plot from a cult that is hell bent on starting the apocalypse, something they are convinced will happen with the new year. Now Wei Shen and Inspector Teng team up to try and stop this cult and bring down their leader. That’s… basically it. Lacking the interesting characters and situations of the main story, Year of the Snake’s plot basically doesn’t do anything. Nothing interesting happens, the plot isn’t forward in any meaningful way, and none of the dangling strings left in Sleeping Dogs are picked up on. Plus, the game ends on one of the most anticlimactic conclusions I’ve ever seen.
Anyone searching for something new will have to keep looking. Year of the Snake doesn’t really change up or add anything noteworthy to Sleeping Dogs’ gameplay. This isn’t a bad thing of course, Sleeping Dogs was already one of the more fun games released in 2012 so the lack of overhauled mechanics doesn’t really strike me as too worrying. Yet when Nightmare in North Point gave me new enemies types to fight and Zodiac Tournament added in boss fights, the best Year of the Snake has to offer is a Taser. Yes, now instead of punching the people he grapples Wei will instead whip out a Taser and taze them. It’s funny the first few times, and noticeably over powered as tazed enemies tend to lay on the ground for extended amounts of time. Wei can also now end fights a little early by arresting wounded enemies, but neither of these are really major improvements to Sleeping Dogs’ combat system.
The mission structures are also more of the same: sometimes Wei will have to go beat people up, other times he has to shoot some people, there’s a couple of car chases as well, but nothing different. The fact that Wei is a police officer could have been a good change up by offering missions where Wei has to use his police skills to investigate, or has to confront members of the Sun On Yee now that he is no longer one of them (actually, the Sun On Yee is mysteriously completely absent for no good reason) but this never comes up in the game. The one change up I can think of is a mission where Wei was given a teargas launcher to control a riot. It’s funny, but ultimately not enough.
There are also new side quests in Year of the Snake, but they suffer from the same problem as the main quests. None of them are really interesting, and all of them feel copy/pasted from the main game. What Year of the Snake doesn’t have in new variety it tries to make up with in substance. Of the three story-drive DLCs, Year of the Snake is easily the longest. The main story can take about 4 – 5 hours to finish, and another couple of hours can be added to complete the side quests as well. Finishing Year of the Snake allows Wei to take the teargas launcher back to the main game, in case you wanted to have fun watching teargas canisters smack off of people’s head.
Year of the Snake succeeds in giving more Sleeping Dogs, but without actually adding anything to the experience. The story goes no where and feels ultimately pointless while the missions are just the same old same old. It has substance, and if you’re really hard up for more Sleeping Dogs then it’s there, but overall Year of the Snake doesn’t feel worth it.