Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (DLC) Review

Sleeping Dogs’ DLC isn’t exactly a shining example of creativity and planning; apart from the “cheat” DLC that makes the main game easier, there’s also the “story” DLC that seems more like an attempt to cash in on the main game than an actual attempt to add valuable content. Nightmare in North Point exemplified this superbly, with a meaningless, weird story tacked on to a bunch of “fluff” missions that only served to pad the whole thing out. Year of the Snake isn’t any better in this regard, being filled with even more of the main game’s awkwardness than Nightmare is (while being equally short), but it also makes an effort to include a few worthwhile features that almost make it worth your money. Almost.

Life as a cop

While you played as an undercover cop in Sleeping Dogs, you never got the opportunity to do police stuff such as handcuffing enemies, throwing them into the back of police cars, or dispersing crowds with tear gas. Year of the Snake begins with Wei Shen receiving a demotion of sorts, rendering him a simple beat cop who finally has the opportunity to do all of those things.

They’re minor additions, though

All I heard was praise for this DLC and how it allowed you to shoot tear gas at people. “Oh, it’s such fun!” To be honest, it’s really not that fun at all; tear gas works identically to the grenade launcher that you used toward the end of Sleeping Dogs, minus the explosive results. It’s basically a less helpful, non-lethal grenade launcher, and I couldn’t help but feel that I was misled by those who claimed that using it was fun. Not only is it kind of boring and ineffective, but you only use it once or twice in the whole DLC.

Handcuffing and throwing people into police cars, on the other hand, is more prominent. While there’s not much actual call for handcuffing people in missions (as memory serves, it was necessary only once or twice), it never ceases to be fun running around the city and handcuffing random strangers. You can even tackle random people while they talk on the phone and handcuff them violently. It may not be a huge added feature, but it’s always fun to run around while abusing your police power, and it also gives you an additional move during melee combat.

Speaking of additional moves, you also gain the ability to use a taser-type thing in combat to stun your enemies temporarily. I didn’t really find it all that helpful, though, so it was one of those things that I used once and then ignored throughout the rest of the DLC, which is especially easy given just how short this DLC is.

Some “meh” stuff came back, too

One of my biggest gripes with Sleeping Dogs was its timed sections, which were a source of endless frustration due to how unnecessary they were. “Get to X point before something bad happens” is never a good game mechanic, and this is back with a vengeance in Year of the Snake; on multiple occasions, you’ll discover a bomb in a vehicle and have to drive it across the city into the water. On a single other occasion, you’ll discover a bomb on foot and have to run it to the bomb disposal squad. That part is especially irritating due to said bomb having an unnecessarily short timer, meaning if you’re not sure which way you have to run at first, you’re going to be blown up. There’s no margin for error, and for me, it meant blowing up a single step away from the bomb squad more than once.

It’s always fun to be the bad cop.

Minigames and shooting

These are two other irritations I had with Year of the Snake that returned from the main game. The “guess the code” minigame that you used to hack into security systems and set up drug busts in the main game is used by Year of the Snake for bomb disarming, which means failing it blows you up and forces you to drive across the city again. Then again, I don’t mind that particular minigame anywhere near as much as the awkward shooting. That’s right—the floaty, clumsy shooting from the main game returns with a fiery vengeance in Year of the Snake. Not only do you have to shoot while simultaneously driving (which makes shooting feel even more awkward), but you’re also put into situations where you have to hold your position against waves of gun-toting enemies for a certain amount of time. If you didn’t find the shooting in Sleeping Dogs adequate, then these portions of the game can prove to be incredibly irritating.

Teng makes an appearance

My biggest irritation with Nightmare in North Point was the usage of its characters. More specifically, I hated its clumsy attempt to shoehorn previously-existing characters with their existing relationships into the DLC’s annoyingly inept attempt at humor. Year of the Snake, on the other hand, isn’t aiming for humor, feeling more like the main game in terms of tone. Teng even makes a few appearances, and since she was such a likable character, being able to hang out with her a little more almost makes this DLC worth it.

Graphics are the same

Everything looks the same as the base game, with no new effects like Nightmare in North Point’s annoying and over-the-top neon. Of course, everything looking similar to the base game could be a pro or a con depending on how much you liked the look of the main game, as well as whether or not you’re diving into this DLC immediately after Sleeping Dogs. However, after Nightmare’s fatiguing neon aesthetic, I found the sameness of this DLC’s graphics to be a welcome relief.

Music’s the same, too

I’m not 100% certain that this is true, but if there was any new music, it flew under the radar to the point where I didn’t even notice it. Honestly, it can’t be that hard to make a few memorable new tracks that force the player to stop whatever they’re doing and take notice.

Here’s what you should do:

Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake

Year of the Snake Screenshots

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