Sleeping Dogs Gameplay Performance and IQ Review

Sleeping Dogs is a new game that has impressed us with its ability to graphically challenge this generation of video cards. This game offers DX11 graphics, with a unique in-game SSAA quality setting. We will look at gameplay performance and image quality and show you that even GTX 680 SLI and 7970 CFX aren't enough for the highest in-game settings.


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Sleeping Dogs was released to the US on August 14th, 2012. We've been playing with this game on and off since it was released due to interest in its graphics options and performance. We finally had the chance to sit down and finish the game, observing it on several different video cards. We have found it to be a perfect candidate for challenging video cards graphically. We are always on the lookout for games that provide a graphics challenge, and Sleeping Dogs provides some unique features that give even the high-end video cards of today a run for the money.

Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure video game with role playing elements. The game was developed by United Front Games and published by Square Enix. Square Enix publishes other popular games such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Tombraider, and Dead Island. Sleeping Dogs takes place in Hong Kong and provides a completely open world. You can carry out the main objectives, take side quests, or just stroll through the open world taking on other challenges the game provides. There is also free roaming hand-to-hand combat, a full cover system, animations for running, jumping, climbing, swimming, martial arts, and vehicle driving. This game seems to emulate aspects of several games into one, such as Grand Theft Auto, Deus Ex, and even the Batman games in regards to the hand-to-hand combat system.

Graphics Settings

Sleeping Dogs is a DX11 game, and supports common current DX11 features. What really makes this game unique is a form of Supersampling Antialiasing (SSAA) alongside of FXAA built into the game. You cannot turn AA off in this game, at the lowest possible setting a "Normal" version of FXAA is enabled at all times. At the next quality level of AA it turns the game up to a "High" level of FXAA and a "Medium" level of SSAA. Then, at the Extreme setting, it sets FXAA to "High" and SSAA to "High" quality. Sleeping Dogs also uses the Havok engine for physics.

The recommended system requirements for this game include: Windows 7 64-bit, Quad-core Intel or AMD CPU, 4GB RAM, 15GB HDD space, DirectX 11 NVIDIA or AMD card, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or ATI Radeon HD 6950. So as you can see, these are pretty high recommended specs.

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The menu screenshots above show you the entire AA options, plus all the other in-game graphics option. We will go over each one.

Resolution - The game supports all common resolutions in several different aspect ratios. It supports widescreen 16:9 and 16:10. The game also supports multi-display Eyefinity resolutions.

Enable 3D Display - This game supports AMD's HD3D technologies, and is built with support for 3D displays.

Enable Quality Anti-Aliasing - This is the only AA option in the game, and there are three settings available. There is a "Normal" setting, a "High" setting and an "Extreme" setting. At each level there are two features inside that are modified, FXAA and SSAA. At the lowest setting, "Normal" the game uses a normal quality level of FXAA and no SSAA at all. You cannot go below this level. At the "High" setting the game boosts the FXAA quality up to a "High" quality level of FXAA and then also enables a "Medium" level of SSAA. Then, at the highest "Extreme" setting FXAA remains at the "High" setting and SSAA is boosted up to the highest level of "High" SSAA.

Enable High-Res Textures - There are two options here, Off or On. However, you cannot turn on the high-res textures until you download these from STEAM. The high-res textures are offered in the form of a free DLC. Therefore, you can run the game without downloading these, but you'll have a better experience if you go ahead and take the time to download these and turn these on. The high-res textures do have a system requirement, you will need a video card with at least 1GB of VRAM on board; this won't work on 512MB video cards. "The high-resolution texture pack updates the game to a new level, bringing eye-watering detail and crisp clear rendering to everything from city skyscrapers to ancient temples."

Shadow Resolution - This option toggles the shadow resolution in the game, the higher the better shadow detail. You can turn it off, or set a standard option or turn it to the high option.

Shadow Filtering - This option sets the filtering for the shadows, which affects the quality, you can set a standard or high option.

Screen Space Ambient Occlusion - SSAO is handled in the form of HDAO, High Definition/Dynamic Ambient Occlusion. You can set a normal or a high setting.

Enable V-Sync - You can turn V-Sync on or off in the game.

Enable Quality Motion Blur - This enables a high quality motion blur in the game, you can turn it off, or to a standard setting or to high.

World Density - This sets both the quality and quantity of objects in the world. There is a normal, high and extreme setting. At extreme you get the best world detail and density.

FPS Limiter - This game has an FPS limited that lets you limit the framerate if you wish. You can turn it off, so that there is no limit, or you can set a 15FPS limit, a 20FPS limit, a 30FPS limit or a 60FPS limit.

3D Depth and 3D Convergence deal with dialing in the 3D detail and quality when using AMD's HD3D technology.

Graphics Summary and Run-Through

We also found out that this game does not enable Anisotropic filtering by itself, nor does it have the option. Therefore, for the best texture quality, enable 16X AF manually in your driver graphics options. We found this worked on all the cards we used. We will show some screenshots with and without AF to show you how much this can help, especially with the high-res textures.

This game exhibits a depth-of-field as you are driving through the city. It will blur objects in the distance, including textures. So if you see this in-game, don't worry, this is supposed to happen. There is also a motion blur effect as you are moving quickly like driving fast in the game as well. Otherwise, the shadows look great, the textures look great, and there are a lot of aliased areas that need the benefit of FXAA and SSAA.

For our run-through we are starting during the "Broken Parts" chapter. We do a little bit of combat, then we hop in a car and tour the city in a lengthy run-through. We found that framerates were lowest while driving, especially fast, in closed areas in-doors with hand-to-hand combat the framerates were consistently average to high, and not the most stressful. Outdoors, in the city is where FPS dropped the lowest.