We liked Sleeping Dogs well enough when we reviewed it back in 2012, but as with most things it could still have been better. And that's what Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition promises: A more well-realized and immersive experience on the mean streets of Hong Kong. Will it be better in ways that actually matter? That I do not know, but you can shove a man's face into a running table saw, and that seems a not unreasonable place to start.
Obviously it's a ridiculous place to start, too watch this if you don't believe me. But the idea here is to use the increased power of next-gen consoles and the PC to deliver enhanced gameplay, more advanced visual effects, heavier traffic and more pedestrians, making the in-game Hong Kong feel more like a living, breathing, and very crowded city.
As noted in the original announcement, Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition will include all previously-released DLC, which is a fair chunk of extra content. But unlike some 'remastered' games thinking specifically of Metro Redux here it's not going to come out at a reduced price: GameStop has it listed for $60, which is actually $10 more than the upcoming (and wholly new) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. That might be alright for newcomers, but I can't see it as a very attractive proposition for anyone who already owns the original.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition comes out on October 14.
Yesterday, Sleeping Dogs developer United Front revealed the first trailer for Triad Wars, which it called an "open world online" game. Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like Sleeping Dogs. It's still set in Hong Kong and features the same driving, shooting, and fighting mechanics, but is somehow, vaguely, a multiplayer game. Today, the United Front team answered questions from fans on a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, which clarified a few things. First of all, yes, Triad Wars for now is planned as a free-to-play game, even if United Front avoided the term in the reveal trailer. Producer Justin Bullard said that monetization is one of the things United Front will test during its beta tests, but that its guiding principle is that you should never have to pay in order to enjoy the game. "Free to play allows us to get the game to as many players as possible with the lowest possible barrier to entry," he said. "That suits our goal of exposing a massive number of gamers to the Sleeping Dogs universe." Design Director Steve Ferreira also clarified that "Triad Wars is about competing against a smaller set of players in an asynchronous world," so it doesn't sound like you'll be running around Hong Kong with hundreds of other live players at the same time. Between what United Front says in the AMA and the few glimpses of building customization we see in the trailer, I imagine that you'll be setting up defenses at your hideout and attacking other players who are doing the same (maybe a little bit like The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot), but it's too soon to say for sure. United Front said that it's still finalizing dates for the beta tests, but the Closed Beta registrations are now open if you're interested. As for a proper Sleeping Dogs sequel, United Front said only that it "would love to continue making games in the Sleeping Dogs universe."
As promised, United Front Games has today released details for Triad Wars, the long promised follow-up to Sleeping Dogs. According to the video embedded below, Triad Wars is a "living, breathing" "open-world action strategy" game set in Hong Kong, coming exclusively to PC. Rather than focus on Sleeping Dogs protagonist Wei Shen, the online game will more closely resemble a traditional MMO, with players responsible for establishing their own turf, finding a niche in the underworld, and hopefully fighting to take other gangs' turf.
According to one talking head in the video below, the ever-evolving world may evolve into a completely different game over the course of two years. TriadWarsZ, maybe? The gameplay will vary depending on how you choose to play: for example, players are free to choose which area of criminality they would like to specialise in, with smuggling and counterfeiting two options mentioned below. Meanwhile, the combat in Sleeping Dogs will apparently feature in Triad Wars.
Triad Wars is expected to release in early 2015, though closed beta registrations are available right now. The video below will give you the full rundown.
If you were a fan of 2012 sleeper hit Sleeping Dogs and are averse to change, then the following news may concern you. According to an announcement by Sleeping Dogs studio United Front Games, forthcoming follow-up Triad Wars is an online only installment coming exclusively to PC. Sleeping Dogs was a single player game which released for consoles as well as PCs, so it's probably safe to assume that Triad Wars will be an entirely different beast.
According to the announcement we'll get a full reveal this Monday (or early Tuesday morning in Australia), as well as a Reddit AMA at 12PM PST on Tuesday. It's wise to keep in mind that United Front Games described Triad Wars back in October as "another game based in the Sleeping Dogs universe", rather than a full sequel proper. Whatever the case, we'll find out more soon.
For those eager to spend money on Sleeping Dogs again, the Definitive Edition will release October 10. It will feature all DLC from the original edition, as well as "improved graphics".
Sleeping Dogs is a game about an undercover Hong Kong cop, whose conflicted sense of loyalty causes him to grab random civilians and smash their faces repeatedly and psychotically into a pork bun stand. At least, that's how I played it. The combination of misplaced loyalty and random violence clearly resonated with others, too, as Square Enix have announced a "Definitive Edition", due out this October. It will not only package up all 24 bits of DLC, but also upgrade the graphics.
"We listened to the fans," sayeth senior producer Dan Sochan in a press release. "We tuned gameplay, we added to the ambience of Hong Kong, increased audio fidelity and pushed the visuals further than we could on the previous generation of consoles."
Yes, consoles. As seen with the Metros Redux, publishers are smitten with the idea of re-releasing upgraded versions of recent titles for current generation consoles. In an environment with no backwards compatibility, it sort of makes sense. On PC? Less so. Sleeping Dogs was released in 2012. It still looks pretty good on our platform.
While it will become the obvious choice for those who don't yet own the original, it's hard to imagine what price would tempt existing owners. In other words, exactly the same problem that 4A are currently facing with Metro Redux.
It's a strange situation. What bothers me is that, between pre-order bonuses and "Definitive"-style special editions, those who buy games on or around the actual release date are increasingly being punished for that decision. Bundled DLC was one thing, but an entire polish and upgrade of a game. That's quite a big improvement to miss out on. That said, maybe the chance to see increased fidelity pork bun crime will ultimately prove irresistible.
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is out 10 October, on PC, PS4 and Xbox.
The future aka 4K gaming is made up of very, very small pixels. After spending the past two weeks checking out games on Samsung's U28D590D 4K monitor, I'm still going to call 4K gaming the near future rather than the present. Yes, you can play games at 3840x2160 pixels right now. Yes, 4K monitors are becoming more affordable. But are they worth it? After spending a couple weeks using one, I can comfortably say: no, not yet. Even for a high-end graphics card (or two), 4K is too demanding for max settings and high framerates. If you're willing to play at 30 frames per second, though, 4K is a different story.
If you want to skip straight to the 4K gameplay section, click here to jump to page 2.
The Samsung U28D590D and the basics of 4K The Samsung U28D590D is a 28-inch, 3840x2160 monitor that has an MSRP of $700, though it's only $570 on Amazon as of this writing. The monitor has a 60Hz refresh rate, unlike some earlier 4K monitors, though you'll have to use DisplayPort for 60Hz. The current HDMI spec only supports 4K at 30Hz.
I gave a general overview of the U28D590D and the demands of 4K gaming in a segment of The PC Gamer Show, which you can watch here:
The monitor looks great and I never noticed any issues with refresh rate or response time, but I didn't perform in-depth testing to determine the actual response time (never trust the too-good-to-be-true listed response time. TFT Central offers a good primer on what those specs mean). Because it uses a faster, cheaper TN panel, response time comes at a cost: inferior viewing angles and color accuracy compared to IPS displays. The monitor stand is also disappointingly limited--it has no height adjustment, rotation, or VESA mount support.
Unfortunately, if you're still running Windows 7, 4K is a terrible experience, no matter what 4K monitor you're using. The OS isn't designed to scale to such a high resolution, and everything will be impossibly tiny unless you crank up DPI scaling to 125% or 150%. But that scaling is for text it doesn't properly resize other UI elements or affect some applications like Steam. Chrome doesn't scale its text properly, either. Windows 8 is much better about properly scaling, and requires no setup to scale text, UI elements like Windows Explorer, and applications to 4K resolution. Text in Steam and Chrome is noticeably fuzzier than system text, but everything is usable and legible without constantly squishing your face up against the monitor.
The Samsung's $570 may be cheap for a 4K monitor, but it's still expensive for a monitor, in general. What that money buys is an extremely pixel-dense display, and games really do look amazing on it. My standard monitor is a 27-inch, 2560x1440 display, which comes out to a pixel pitch rating of 108.79 PPI. That's way higher than, say, a 24-inch 1080p monitor (95.78 PPI) or a 50-inch 1080p TV (44.06 PPI).
At 3840x2160, the 28-inch Samsung U28D590D has a 157.35 PPI. As a result, games running at native resolution look sharp, even without anti-aliasing enabled. The pixel density really does make a difference. Remember, a 1920x1080 monitor creates an image out of 2,073,600 pixels. A 4K monitor displays 8,294,400 pixels. As a result, a graphics card has to push out four times as many pixels. Not even two Nvidia Titans, or a newer Titan Black, can handle refreshing eight million pixels 60 times per second.
On the next page: my gaming experiences with Metro: Last Light, Tomb Raider, and other games, with some gameplay footage captured with Nvidia Shadowplay (at the max capture resolution of 1440p).
Gaming at 4K The first game I tested at 4K was the most graphically intensive game I could think of: Metro: Last Light. With settings cranked up to Ultra, Last Light had trouble cracking 20 frames per second. Mostly, it ran in the teens, and even lowering a few settings barely helped. The world isn't ready for Metro: Last Light at 4K. Luckily, most of the other games I tested ran better.
For the games listed below, I'm going to give a rating based on playability at 30 fps and 60 fps. While I did tweak some specific settings like antialiasing, depth of field, and tessellation, I didn't turn game settings down to medium or low just to see if they'd perform well. I'd rather play a game at high settings, with better textures, lighting, and particle effects, than sacrifice those graphics options for pure resolution.
Bioshock Infinite runs on a heavily customized Unreal Engine 3, but it's not a particularly demanding game I had no problem running it at 60 fps on an AMD 7870 at 1440p when it was released. At 4K on a Titan Black, with all settings on Ultra, it was playable, but the framerate fluctuated considerably. It only occasionally reached 60 frames per second, and mostly hovered in the low 40s. Not bad! Usually. I found that some particle effects and rapid animations like the carnival games in the plaza near the beginning of the game--sent the framerate plummeting down into the teens.
By switching Bioshock Infinite's settings down to "Very High," I was able to run it at a reliable 30+ fps. I also ran the Infinite benchmark utility on its highest setting: DX11 with Depth of Field enabled. It averaged an overall framerate of 37.01 fps.
Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No. Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes.
When I played Tomb Raider on my (overclocked) AMD 7870 last year, I was shocked by how well-optimized it was. I ran the game at max settings, with TressFX enabled, and kept a solid 60 fps. It didn't fare as well at 4K. At first, I ran the game at Ultra on a Titan Black, with only TressFX disabled. Depth of Field was turned to high, and tessellation was enabled. On those settings, the game typically ran at 22-24 fps and peaked around 30 fps. That framerate, combined with the game's handheld-style shaky camera, made cutscenes uncomfortably twitchy to watch. In smaller enclosed spaces, the game ran better when I took Lara into an underground area, it actually ran at 55-60 fps.
Tweaking individual settings in Tomb Raider also makes a big difference. By disabling tessellation and turning down depth of field and SSAO to normal, the framerate hung steady in the mid-30 fps range, even in cutscenes and open environments. I didn't get to any of the game's dramatic action setpieces, but a little settings tuning should be enough to keep the game running over 30 fps at all times.
Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No. Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes.
United Front Games' Sleeping Dogs has a gorgeous open world, but it relies on the rain-soaked neon of Hong Kong for its looks, not tessellation like Tomb Raider or the lighting and physics of Metro: Last Light. With all of Sleeping Dogs' settings cranked to Ultra (except anti-aliasing) and its high resolution textures installed, the game managed to run at an almost-but-not-quite solid 60 fps during gameplay. It sometimes dipped into the 50s, but still played extremely smoothly.
During cutscenes, the framerate dropped into the 40-50 fps range, but never dipped anywhere near 30 fps.When I ran the Sleeping Dogs benchmark utility (with AA enabled), it returned an average framerate of 56.5 fps, a maximum of 67.1 fps and a minimum of 39.2 fps. Not bad, Sleeping Dogs. Not bad. And you still look pretty good, too.
Consistent 60 fps at 4K? Very, very close. Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Yes. Easily.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Surprise! A game running on the Source Engine runs putters along at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second just fine. On the Large Pixel Collider's three Titan setup, CS:GO blazed past 60 fps with max settings and showed no signs of dipping down below that threshold. Even on a weaker computer, Source engine games should be able to run at 60 fps no problem, especially with tweaking to settings like AA.
Consistent 60 fps at 4K? Yes. Consistent 30 fps at 4K? Double yes.
Total War: Rome 2
The last game I tried, Creative Assembly's Total War: Rome 2, ran better than I expected. The Total War games are notoriously system intensive on both the CPU and GPU, but even on Ultra settings, the game ran well at 4K. At least, "well" by Total War standards. On the battlefield, zoomed out, the game consistently ran at more than 30 fps. Zoomed in, the framerate slowed to around 24 fps when there were dozens or hundreds of units on screen at once. But that feels normal for Total War, so the game didn't feel sluggish.
In fact, on a Titan Black, Total War: Rome 2 runs better at 4K than it did for me at launch on my AMD 7870 at 1440p. Creative Assembly has patched the game numerous times over the past year to fix bugs and increase performance, but overall Rome 2 ran better than I expected. Still nowhere near 60 fps, but that's hardly a surprise for a game rendering thousands of units at once.
Consistent 60 fps at 4K? No, but that's no surprise. Consistent 30 fps at 4K? No, but closer than expected. Wrapping up The games above are just a small sample of how PC gaming fares at 4K resolution. Obviously performance will differ between systems not everyone has a Titan Black to play on, but a pair of overclocked SLI'd cards could handle these games even better, and even manage to keep framerates hovering around 60 fps. From my testing, though, I don't think 2014 is the year to invest in a 4K monitor. Even 30 fps at 4K is a struggle for some games, but it's doable with the right tweaking.
If you're accustomed to playing games at 30 frames per second already, chances are you don't have a graphics card capable of handling 4K. Buy a new GPU in 2014 or 2015, though, and 4K at 30 fps will be within your reach
For 60 fps, you'll need at least two Nvidia 780 TIs in SLI or an AMD R9 295X2, and neither of those cards will guarantee 60 fps in every game. Total cost for those cards? Between $1400 and $1500. Throw the cost of the 4K monitor in there, and, well...Unless you want to spend a whole lot of money, the 4K future is still a year or two away.
Just when you thought you were out of the Steam sale racket, they pull you back in - today's crop boasting some delectable bargains across a variety of genres, including the pork-bunniest game of recent years.
Reminder: if a game isn't a daily deal or a flash sale, it could pop up later in the sale for an even lower price. If you want to be safe, wait until June 30 to pick up a sale-long deal. Also, GOG.com are having their own, equally terrific summer sale at the moment, so be sure to check that out too.
5 - Lone Survivor 75% off: $3.74 / 2.74 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST One of the best Silent Hill games you'll play - and a better Silent Hill game than Konami have published in the last ten or so years. The story is dreamlike and ambiguous in the best possible way, while the chunky pixel art and atmospheric soundtrack envelop you as soon as you switch the game on. If you're brave enough to face it - and you remembered to bring an energy drink - Lone Survivor is easily worth the price of a large cappuccino. Head here for the full PCG verdict.
4 - Metro Last Light 66% off: $6.79 / 6.79 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST Some odd exchange-rating aside, this is still a good price for the mostly great Metro Last Light, which managed the heroic feat of rescuing the first game's abysmal stealth and turning it into something that works. In addition to being a solid shooter and stealth-'em-up, this is a pretty good atmospheric horror and action game too, although the plot is something that will largely pass you by (if you're lucky). You might want to wait for the remastered 'Redux' version of this and its predecessor, however - although there is a discount system in place should you want to upgrade at a later date.
3 - Sleeping Dogs 80% off: $3.99 / 2.99 - Steam store page | Flash sale: Buy it before 8 p.m. EST If Watch Dogs left you cold, you could always give the relatively silly (but still a bit nasty) Sleeping Dogs a try, which puts you in the role of an undercover cop in Hong Kong. Brawl with bad guys, eat pork buns by the truckload, and solve police cases on the side in a scrappy open world game that's never too ambitious, but manages to be a lot of fun anyway. We didn't think much of the "messy story and horrible characters" in our review, but we had time for the game's "scintillating open world city". 2.99 seems like a very fair price.
2 - Tomb Raider 75% off: $4.99 / 3.74 - Steam store page Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot isn't without its problems - most of the cast are forgettable, and it's a more linear and shallow game than fans of the originals might have been expecting - but as fairground rides go, this is meticulously and gorgeously staged. Play it to prepare yourself for the recently announced Rise of the Tomb Raider, in which Lara's hopefully brought along a coat, as well as a flannel for all that blood she finds herself swimming through.
1 - The Wolf Among Us 66% off: $8.49 / 6.45 - Steam store page Creaking engine aside, Telltale have come a long way since the days of their pretty good Sam and Max series, so it's a relief to see that their good work on The Walking Dead wasn't a one-off. The Wolf Among us, based on the Fables comics, is overall just as deftly written as the tale of Clementine and co, although Telltale have been a fair bit slower in putting them out. You probably shouldn't read our reviews if you want to remain unspoiled, but know that we've given the series a (very gruff) thumbs-up.
Other great deals today Remember that games not categorized as Daily Deals or Flash Sales may be reduced further.
State of Decay (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74 Monaco (67% off) $4.94 / 3.95 To The Moon (70% off) $2.99 / 2.09 E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy (75% off) $2.49 / 1.74 Year Walk (50% off) $2.99 / 2.39 Deadly Premonition (75% off) $6.24 / 4.99 Legend of Grimrock (66% off) $5.09 / 4.07 Betrayer (80% off) $3.99 / 2.99 Outlast (75% off) $4.99 / 3.74
The Steam Holiday Sale continues today with huge savings throughout the store! Check back often to take advantage of our eight-hour Flash Sales. You can even help select what goes on sale with our Community's Choice Voting Sales.
In addition to Flash and Vote sales, more than a hundred games and apps will be featured as Daily Deals throughout the sale, with new deals popping up every 24 hours.
Participating in the 2013 Steam Holiday Sale will also earn customers exclusive Holiday Sale Trading Cards. Collect, trade, and craft 10 Holiday Snow Globe Cards that can only be earned during the sale. Every craft of a Holiday Sale badge will also generate a random item drop from 10 participating Free-To-Play games, featuring exclusive in-game items from Warframe, Path of Exile, Team Fortress 2, DOTA 2 and more. These items are both tradable and marketable.
Learn more about this year's Steam Holiday Sale features HERE.
The Steam Holiday Sale will run until 10AM PST, January 2nd. Complete information on Daily Deals, Flash Sales, Community Choice Voting and more can be found HERE.