Yakuza / Sleeping Dogs Review

A year ago, I posted this article, which talks about the lack of Asian representation in todays media. In there, I talked how cool it would be to have an Asian style GTA, like Grand Theft Auto: Shanghai. While GTA V is NOT going to be set in Asia (It’s going to be LA, yet again, bah), I did find two other open world games set in Asia that follow GTA’s style: Yakuza 4 and Sleeping Dogs.

Yakuza 4
Yakuza 4

Yakuza 4 is a Japanese video game that follows four protagonists as they unravel a mystery involving the Tokyo Police and Yakuza. The game follows an open world setting in Tokyo, with a unique combat system.
The best thing about this game is the story. Incredible. You get to play as four completely different people (a loan shark, a former yakuza chairman, a police cop and an escaped convict) and each of their stories revolve around this mysterious woman and entwine together at the end, revealing many betrayals and conspiracies. It’s better than the majority of the movies out there.
The gameplay is also quite good. Every character has a different combat system. There are many different activities to do, some unique to the Asian setting. Massage parlors, Hostess Clubs, Mahjong, Blackjack, Pachinko, Arcades, Bowling, Karaoke, are many things that make the game more Japanese, and more interesting. Overall, a pretty cool game. I beat this game, and that says alot because I often get too uninterested in games to beat them.

Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is the Chinese version of GTA I’ve been asking for. Set in Hong Kong, the protagonist is a Chinese-American (from San Francisco!) undercover cop infiltrating the Triads and knows Kung Fu. This game does everything GTA does, and better. Great combat system, great driving system, great storyline, parkour style movements, and lots of cool activities like cock-fighting, kung fu training and karaoke. Its like GTA meets Assassins Creed meets Uncharted meets Just Cause 2. I haven’t beat it yet, but so far it looks like what I’ve been asking for.

Props to Sega and Square Enix for making these great games with Asian protagonists!!

  • Awesome to see that Asian-Americans are taking the role that they should be in some video games! There are actually a ton of Asians living around LA. There may very well be Asian characters in GTA V if the gaming company decides to give a good representation of the area.

  • JN

    Some background if you care: Stumbled here after thinking about Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Fire Emblem, Mario, Metroid, Metal Gear Solid, etc MASSIVELY popular Japanese games whose protagonists are not Japanese, nor even Asian… in fact almost no character there is Japanese or Asian (or African, Aboriginal, Hispanic…): the protagonists are *all* European.
    Then on the Western side of the world, we have popular games like Uncharted, Call of Doodie, BioShock, Splinter Cell, Infamous, and Gears of War where the same is true.
    It’s not jarring to believe why western developers have a European protagonist, but why is it that the protagonists coming from Japan are virtually all Caucasian?
    Made me search: “why are there no japanese protagonists in japanese games?” and surprisingly, there is very little discussion on the issue.
    ———————————————————————–
    So I found your blog from a year before discussing lack of Asian representation in media. Then I thought Sleeping Dogs would be perfect for you because of this: “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a video game with an Asian protagonist, set in an Asian city?”. Nice to see you found your way to it.

    Haha! Cheers.