Picked up Sleeping Dogs to play over holiday vacation. Came out late in the summer, and I hadn't paid much attention to it... then is started showing up on a lot of "Best of 2012" lists and I saw it on sale at Target for $39.95, so I gave it a shot.
Best decision ever. It's a GTA-clone, set in Hong Kong... and has a lot of similarities to any sandbox style game... but the story is incredible. You play an undercover cop from San Francisco... brought over to infiltrate the Chinese mafia. Since guns are illegal in China... most of the combat is hand to hand, or hand to knife, or meat cleaver or tire iron. You'll find yourself surrounded by 10 dudes in a warehouse, and you systematically take them all out. Guns do play a big role as things progress and the combat system works well there too. But there is nowhere to just go buy as many guns as you want... so they are in limited supply. Driving is just awesome too... lots of cars and motorcycles... smoking through back alleys... you can hijack cars by leaping slo-mo out of the car you are in and yanking the driver out of the other car. Shooting out tires actually does what it would really do at 90 miles per hour... wrecks that shit. There are a lot of collectibles, and they actually accomplsh something. You have to find all the "health shrines" to build your maximum health... which you have to do if you plan to hang in there with 10 dudes with meat cleavers. You build your martial arts skills by finding jade stautes and returning them to the martial arts studio... there are lock boxes all over town, some guarded and some not... full of money, clothes or sometimes guns. You have seperate cop missions and triad missions, and you build points and gain skills for those as you complete them... there's street races, random people needing help and even karaoke... which you do actually have to do as part of a couple of missions.
I've gone on and on... but I could go on and on. Just finished the game last night, and I think I'll probably immediately replay it. If you like GTA or Saint's Row, you'll love Sleeping Dogs... you can probably get it on the cheap, used or on sale new too. Try it.