18 cert, Square Ennix, Xbox (also PS3)
The Grand Theft Auto formula is the game that keeps on giving. A classic series in its own right, GTA’s open-world crime simulation has influenced the good (The Getaway), the bad (True Crime) and the cheeky (Saints Row). Sleeping Dogs is the latest with a GTA debt. It’s also a violent, lively tribute to Asian action movies. You play Shen, a Chinese/American cop who goes undercover with Hong Kong gangsters, not the kind of people you’d want to meet in a dark alley (or a well-lit one, frankly). There’s a decent central plot, but much of the action is open-world. Because Shen is a covert cop, you end up carrying out both criminal jobs (like debt collecting) and police business (like drug busts). Every aspect of the gameplay is effective: the martial arts, parkour rundowns, car chases, shootouts and exploration. The city is a glorious jungle of concrete, neon and rain. Sleeping Dogs won’t earn treats for originality, but it’s such fun and so stylish, that doesn’t matter a lick.