You're welcome to come with me, but you'll need a copy of Sleeping Dogs to make it happen. Square's 2012 gangster opus got a new DLC injection this week, but it'll be a while before I can report on it since the rest of game is so large and involving.
The first two True Crimes were set in Los Angeles and New York and attempted to capitalize on the initial crime-based open-world sandbox craze spawned by 2001's Grand Theft Auto III. Sleeping Dogs takes the sprawling urban cop drama concept and updates it for current-gen hardware, and any discussion of the game is bound to include some ooohing and ahhhing over the spectacular visuals.
Seriously, I can't even begin to describe what it's like to ratchet a crotch rocket up to ludicrous speed in a rain-soaked Hong Kong nightscape. It's just something you need to do at least once in your gaming life.
The PC controls are awkward at first. It took me a good hour to get the hang of holding down the space bar for a full run and then releasing it and pressing it again precisely enough to slide across a car's hood or wing my way over a kitchen counter in pursuit of a suspect. I'd imagine the controller version is superior in this respect, but I was so enraptured by the sights and sounds of the city that I couldn't be bothered to stop playing and try it out.
There's also a bit of Matrixy, Max Payne-style bullet time thrown in for good measure, and while the convention is well past cliche status at this point, it's only occasionally necessary.
In terms of character progression, Sleeping Dogs takes the Grand Theft Auto model and adds a couple of new wrinkles in the form of multiple advancement paths. It's still an action game as opposed to an RPG, but there's a bit more depth here than most of the genre competition. Since your character is an undercover policeman, you're free to advance through the Cop and Triad skill trees simultaneously, and each offers a unique set of abilities. Some of these are passive (the ability to slim jim car locks for faster hijacking hijinks) and some are active (various martial arts moves activated by keyboard/mouse/button combos).
Gameplay proper is pretty typical for the sandbox action genre, and that's really a compliment. The world of Sleeping Dogs dwarfs many current-gen MMOs, and there is a seemingly endless number of side quests apart from the main narrative, which is itself split into branches depending on whether you want to spend your current session working for the good guys or the bad guys (or both). There are dozens of outfits, cars, and motorcycles to collect as well as a variety of street races, hitman objectives, Guitar Hero-style karaoke, and even dating missions.
The bread-and-butter action missions aren't particularly challenging, but they're varied and immersive. You'll be doing everything from hacking surveillance cameras to hijacking buses and vans to engaging in numerous shootouts and hand-to-hand beat-downs. Interspersed along the way are various minigames that spice things up. I was particularly fond of a mission that saw me planting a listening device in a Triad eatery. It wasn't just a matter of following the minimap and watching a cutscene, as I had to unscrew an air vent, calibrate the bug, screw the vent cover back on, and then scramble through a skylight all while watching the countdown timer and hearing the approaching voices of the gangsters I was looking to spy on.
Like any good sandbox title, all of this stuff is available at your leisure, and it's my opinion that Sleeping Dogs offers a huge amount of gameplay variety and replay value without overwhelming the player or leading to decisional paralysis.
I guess at this point I've gushed about as much as I should over one game, but the long and short of it is that I'm enjoying Sleeping Dogs immensely. Aside from some PC control clumsiness, and the occasional vehicle view camera quirk, I can't find anything bad to say about it. It's just what the doctor ordered if you're in the mood for some solo sandbox play with a modern crime motif.
Burned out on MMOs? That's OK; there are tons of other titles out there featuring MMOish open worlds, progression, RPG mechanics, or a combination of all three. Massively's MMO Burnout turns a critical eye toward everything from AAA blockbusters to obscure indie gems, not to mention a healthy dose of the best mods.