After a few minor DLC releases, Nightmare in North Point is the first sizeable chunk of story-driven content for the excellent Sleeping Dogs. Taking a brief wander from the classic John Woo stylings you've come to expect, the new story rips a smattering of influences from traditional Chinese horror and sends them whirling around the heart of Hong Kong.
Set directly after the events of the main game - don't touch Nightmare in North Point unless you're a big fan of plot spoilers - the pack boils down to a massive punch-up with the undead. Hong Kong is still open for you to explore, but smart-talking civilians have been swapped for glowy-eyed zombies. Demons haunt alleyways and nether portals open to release stinking corpses into the streets. Cars also randomly explode, too, for reasons we don't fully understand.
Despite the Halloween vibe, the core of Sleeping Dogs remains mostly untouched. You're still undercover cop/triad member Wei Shen, you're still effortlessly good at martial arts, and you can still drive a car while leaning out the door at a right angle. There's still a major focus on weighty hand-to-hand combat - we didn't see or fire a single gun. The idea is to add spice to the existing formula.
In the first bunch of missions, Wei's introduced to ghostly triad boss Big Scar Wu, his new arch-nemesis. Something of a loose cannon in life, Big Scar Wu eventually met a grisly end at the hands of his colleagues in crime - his body was chopped up and fed into a grinder at the Smiley Cat cat food factory. Definite cause for being a little bit cheesed off, especially when everybody in hell starts referring to you as "Smiley Cat".
On the chase for Big Scar, we ran into an army of his Jiang Shi minions. The Jiang Shi are the grunts of the undead army. Instead of stumbling around, arms out-stretched like vanilla zombies, they hop around two-footed, limbs rigid with rigor mortis. It's hilarious and terrifying at the same time, especially if one manages to get hold of you and bury its teeth into your neck. Their attacks can kill you in a couple of seconds, so caution is strongly advised.
After we'd beaten the Jiang Shi back to death and driven to our next destination near the waterfront, the even deadlier Yao Guai decided to show up and stomp on our victory. These goat-horned badasses are practically impossible to defeat with standard attacks, so we needed something extra. After being sent on a wild goose chase to track down three unlikely ingredients - a ghost pepper, the egg of an albino hen and... antifreeze - we concocted a tonic of magic tea to give us an extra edge. In the event of a real-life zombie invasion, you should probably do absolutely none of this at home. Probably.
Once you've drunk the tea, you can unleash a stylish new rage mode by filling up the Face meter - your fists glow an ethereal blue, letting you power-punch your way through a horde of enemies. There are other tea-powered abilities to sample, but we weren't able to try them out during our demo.
Despite the enhancements to fisticuffs, combat is still a huge challenge. Some of the fights took us a couple of tries to get through, and at one point we resorted to madly ploughing through a group of hopping Jiang Shi with a fluorescent pink Smart car.
Nightmare in North Point doesn't dramatically alter Sleeping Dogs, but it's flavoursome enough to feel like a worthy continuation of Wei's story. We've only seen a brief snippet of what's in the full package, and at around four hours in length the story should see out a couple of evenings. The hilariousness of the characters and the vibrancy of Hong Kong are just as they always were, but now you've got hopping zombies to chuckle at. Thumbs up.
Words by Sam Wight. Nightmare in North Point releases on 30th October. There's no price yet.