Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point DLC Review
An interesting diversion that doesn’t hold up to the high standard set by the main campaign.
Sleeping Dogs was one of the most pleasant, unexpected surprises of the summer of 2012. The open-world, Grand Theft Auto-style game from United Front Games (famous for ModNation Racers) garnered a perfect score in my review. Now UFG and Square Enix have released the Nightmare in North Point DLC expansion- but unfortunately it doesn’t hold up to the high standard set by the main campaign.
It should be stated up front that this is a bit of a budget expansion- it’s not a $20 add-on like Red Dead Redemption’s similar Undead Nightmare pack. Nightmare in North Point is under $10 – varying depending on which platform you buy it for. On PlayStation Network it can be had for $4.99, while on Xbox LIVE it’s $7, and $6.99 on Steam. With only a little over an hour of gameplay, plus a few meager Trophies/ Achievements to be earned, I’m sure UFG realized that a $20 price point would be an insult. At $5-7, however, Nightmare in North Point may be worth your time and money.
This DLC obviously is shooting for a B-movie horror tone, and while nothing about the DLC is remotely scary, it does set the mood pretty well. It starts out with hero Wei Shen taking his girl “Not Ping” (an in-joke from the main campaign- he still hasn’t learned her actual name) to a cheesy horror flick. Upon exiting, he asks where they come up with such trash, in what felt like a nod to a similar line in 1989’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. A sinister ghost with a cat mask – Big Smiley Cat- grabs your girl and runs off. The rest of your time will be spent trying to rescue her as you’re bombarded by the souls of those you killed in the main story, as well as Chinese vampire/ ghost things called Jiang Shi.
Nightmare in North Point is disappointingly short. It took me just over an hour to finish it, and all 3 or so short missions are basically just driving to a location and eliminating the Jiang Shi, then driving to the next marker. There are only two new enemies. The first are the standard Jiang Shi hopping ghost/ vampires, which will bounce around and attempt to bite your neck similar to Resident Evil games. When this happens, you need to shake the analog stick left and right. Usually, they will be accompanied by a higher-level demon, who can only be dispatched when enough Jiang Shi are thrown into a portal and you get magic powers. All of this makes the usually fantastic combat rather dull and mind-numbing, and it feels designed just to extend the length of the DLC. I also ran into a few notable glitches that never came up in the main campaign, such as Jiang Shi spawning into objects in the environment and getting stuck. These moments required restarts, as all Jiang Shi needed to be destroyed to progress.
You will run into a few allies and foes from the main story. One running gag with a character’s ghost who constantly craved noodles and would randomly appear elicited a few chuckles. This DLC was a good opening to have a subplot regarding facing your sins (remember The Sorrow’s river of ghosts in Metal Gear Solid 3?) but unfortunately that opportunity is missed here. And that sentiment sums up Nightmare in North Point well- I really wanted to love it, but it ultimately just feels a bit lazy. There are some nice touches, like how all civilians are coated in blood with glowing eyes and pitched-down voices, and it’s funny seeing them just go about their normal routine and selling merch in the streets. But the environment is unchanged by this apocalyptic event aside from some blue fog, and the only other additions are some new clothes, a peachtree sword and 2 new enemies. It’s hard to complain too much at the aforementioned price point, but I would have gladly paid more for a fully realized expansion- this is a game that deserves such an effort. But if you’re looking for a reason to dust off your Sleeping Dogs disk, Nightmare in North Point will probably satisfy you.