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Sleeping Dogs and Sleepless Nights

Warning: This post contains a topic that deals with a personal tragedy. As a result I’ve disabled comments. If you ever feel you need to talk, below are some useful numbers. It’s ok to talk.

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It’s funny how certain things can remind you of people. They don’t have to be big or tangible things and even the connection can be tenuous at best, yet when we think about them, memories connected to them flood back. There are two games that have a link to one person. They are C-12: Final Resistance and Sleeping Dogs. When I think of these, I instantly think of my nephew at two different stages in his life.

The 27th of March 2014 is a date that I’ll never forget. I was in London at a new job and had just gotten my first bonus. Everyone was getting ready to go to the pub to celebrate. I was already thinking about how to spend it. Maybe I’d get a PlayStation 4 for myself and a new laptop for Sharon. Maybe a few more things for our new apartment. As my mind raced around thinking of things we needed, I got a phone call from home. My nephew had passed away. Suddenly the grim reality dawned on me. I sat there in an office, struggling to hold it together. I was not particularly close to my nephew in his later years but it was devastating. I began to try to focus on other things, anything at all really. I went shopping, watched a movie, played some games but as the night drew on, I finally cracked and spent the whole night and weekend crying. I wouldn’t fly home until a few days later. At his funeral, several people stood up to tell their own personal memories of him. They were all unique and quirky, which was definitely him. It got me thinking about my own personal memories of him and two really stood out: the times we spent playing C-12 and Sleeping Dogs.

C-12: Final Resistance was developed by SCE Cambridge Studios and released on the original PlayStation in 2001. The game is a third-person shooter set in the future. Aliens have invaded the Earth and are harvesting all of the Earth’s Carbon resources. You play as Lieutenant Riley Vaughan as he fends off the aliens. The plot is fairly basic, starting off with a search and rescue mission before you try to find a way to defeat the aliens. The gameplay is fun but clunky, a problem that was common with PlayStation shooters. The graphics look great for the system, with the ruined cities being well detailed, but you will still have texture warping. The sound isn’t half bad and can capture the games eerie setting well.

My nephew and his brother had come to stay with us one weekend. We were going to go down to our local rental store to pickup a movie and some games. My nephew had heard about C-12 from a friend in school and was enthusiastically telling me all about it. He talked about it’s spooky setting and horrible aliens. The game isn’t that scary now but through the eyes of a child in the early 2000s, it would have looked terrifying. We decided to rent it so he could play it. The whole way back his face was brimming with excitement, telling us about all the gruesome creatures and the big guns you could blast them with. When we got home, I stuck it in the PlayStation and handed him the controller. He confidently strode through the early parts of the first level, telling us how he was going to “kill all the aliens”. Then he got to the first alien, let out a little scream, threw the controller at me and said he didn’t want to play anymore. It was hilarious at the time but such a contrast to the man he would grow up to be. His brother and I then took turns going through the game while he watched. We didn’t finish it that weekend but I would get a copy of my own later. My sister bought it for me for Christmas thinking it was a PlayStation 2 game because it came in a black box similar to PS2 games. I eventually cleared it (I also got a proper box for it because it was a pain to store).

Sleeping Dogs is an open world game developed by United Front Games and published by Square Enix. It was originally released in 2012 on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 but has seen ports to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game is a spiritual successor to the True Crime series, so if you’ve played those, you know what you’re in for. The game is set in Hong Kong and you play as Wei Shen, an undercover cop. Similar to other open world games, you can explore the city at your leisure and take on optional side tasks or dive head first into its explosive story. The story is gripping as you try to take down Sun On Yee Triad. Hong Kong looks amazing, with the narrow city streets complimented by the wide-open highways. The game sounds wonderful and the voice acting is top-notch. The gameplay is fantastic, with a heavy emphasis on martial arts combat with excellent car controls. It was a game I picked up on its release as I loved playing open-world games at the time.

During this time, my nephew came to live with us for a bit. My game collection wasn’t massive at the time but I told him he could play whatever he wanted. I set up a profile for him on my PlayStation and Xbox 360 so he wouldn’t have to worry about overwriting my or my brother’s save files. It was just a generic “User 1” profile but it did the job. The only game he was interested in was Sleeping Dogs. He practised Taekwondo and had a big interest in martial arts. He sat down and would just explore the city. He didn’t care about doing any main missions, he just wanted to beat people up. We didn’t talk much but I would sit there and watch him play, a reverse of what had happened with C-12 nearly a decade before. He did make some progression in the story before he moved back home. I never deleted his save file and when I finally went to London, I left my PlayStation 3 in storage. It was only when I was home for his funeral and hooked up the PlayStation 3 that I realised “User 1” was still there…

It might seem silly to hold such an attachment to something as small as a video games but it’s the memories that we share together that make the difference. I haven’t touched either game in a long time but when I do revisit them, I know it’ll be a very emotional experience for me.

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