The lights are on
In Sleeping Dogs, undercover cop Wei Shen infiltrates the Sun On Yee gang in Hong Kong, working his way up a local faction called the Water Street Gang. He eventually gains the trust of the faction’s leader, Winston Chu. But as Wei gets closer to the leadership, he risks identifying too much with the criminals he’s trying to arrest. In the game’s best and most emotional mission, Wei attends a wedding between Winston and his long-time girlfriend, Peggy Li. But things don't go as planned for the young couple, and Wei’s loyalty to the law is tested.
For those who have not played Sleeping Dogs, beware of major story spoilers ahead.
For much of the game, Winston Chu is admittedly not a very sympathetic character. He is a brute who often kills or threatens to secure his power. But his cruelty is countered by his genuine love for Peggy and a great loyalty to his family and friends, which includes Wei.
Peggy Li, on the other hand, is a more likable character. Wei first meets her on the eve of the wedding, during a simple mission in which he drives her around Hong Kong to run last-minute errands. Upon meeting him, Peggy immediately welcomes Wei into her family. She’s able to look deep and see the good in in him, just like she sees in Winston. So even though I wasn't a fan of Winston, I wanted the couple to have a happy ending – mostly for Peggy. But I knew that in a game like Sleeping Dogs, that would be unlikely.
When Wei arrives on the wedding day, there is already an air of unease. Everything seems too happy, like the calm before a storm. When Wei leaves to go pick up a case of wine from a car, screams ring out from the reception area. He sprints inside the building only to encounter members of the Jade Gang, a rival faction within the Sun On Yee, standing in his way. I know that my fear has come true, and I just hope that Winston and Peggy are still alive. I take out the gang members as fast as possible, hoping to make it to the couple in time.
But the sight at the end of the main reception area creates a pit in my stomach. Wei finds the bride and groom lying in a pool of their own blood. The crimson contrasts against the bright white of the bride’s dress, the marble floor, and Wei’s suit, and strengthen the impact of how this pure event has been stained by violence. Right before he dies, Winston’s says, “Get Peggy out of here. She doesn’t deserve this.” She didn’t. Watching this unfold, Wei goes through stages of horror, sadness, and anger. And I felt like I joined him on that emotional road.
This is the point in the game where Wei and players realize how attached they’ve grown to members of the Water Street Gang. Although Winston was a criminal and Peggy was just an acquaintance, I felt genuinely angry about what had happened to them. I usually choose morally “good” paths in games that allow it, but I wanted revenge, not justice, for Winton and Peggy’s deaths. I forgot that Wei was a cop, with duties to the law. At its best, Sleeping Dogs challenges the players’ sense of right and wrong, and this moment is a perfect example of that aspect of the game.
Watch the mission in the video below, uploaded by ScorpioVideo. The scene starts at 1:21 and ends at 6:56, but the mission continues beyond that.
Email the author Mike Trinh, or follow on Game Informer.