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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Sucker Punch

 

ERSB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 2004

 

 

- Superb presentation and visuals

- Good story

- Excellent level design

- Wide variety of new stealth moves and attacks

- Greater sense of teamwork

- Much longer than the original

- Lots of destructible objects in the environments

 

 

- Minor camera issues

- Limited replay value

 

 

Review: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (PS2)

Review: Voodoo Vince (XB)

Review: I-Ninja (XB)

Review: Ratchet & Clank 2 (PS2)

Review: Jak II (PS2)

 

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Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves

Score: 8.9 / 10

 

Almost two years since the original Sly Cooper introduced ground-breaking visuals coupled with excellent platform style gameplay. While sister platformer games Ratchet and Clank and Jak & Daxter released their sequels last year, the developers of Sly Cooper took an extra year to spend more time working on their sequel.

 

When we last left our heroes they had just defeated the evil Clockwerk bird that was responsible for the death of Sly Cooper’s family. This time Clockwerk is back, but his parts have been split up amongst the Klaww gang. Each Klaww gang member is using their own Clockwerk part to carry out illegal activities and it’s your job to retrieve and destroy the parts so Clockwerk will never be assembled and brought back to life again.

 

sly 2 review          sly 2 review

 

Rather than controlling Sly for the entire game, you’ll also get to control his two colleagues: Murray and Bentley, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Sly is a raccoon whose biggest strength is stealth, while Murray is a hippo who is the ‘Muscle’ of the group, and Bentley is a turtle who’s the genius and demolitions expert of the trio. There are many missions in the game that require all three characters to work together, as there will be specific tasks that only one of the three characters can accomplish.

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Sly can also uppercut enemies and also perform body slams, which can incapacitate an enemy much quicker. Sly isn’t the only character with cool moves. Murray has the best moves out of any character as he can perform belly flops and pick up different objects as well as enemies and throw them at other enemies. Bentley is limited when it comes to moves, but he carries a pretty powerful dart gun that can put enemies to sleep and he also carries an unlimited arsenal of bombs.

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Like the first game, the sequel takes place across international locales such as India, France, Czech Republic and Canada. The game is split up into eight chapters, with some of the chapters taking place in the same location. The level design is excellent and the levels seem more open with lots to explore. One of the most notable additions is the amount of destruction you can carry out – a majority of objects in the environments are destructible.

 

The beginning of each chapter plays similar to one another. Before Sly and his friends make any grand move to steal a Clockwerk part, you must first carry out recon and photograph different locations and then come up with a game plan. The mission variety in the sequel is extremely diverse. You’ll rarely come across two missions that play out similarly to one another (except for the recon). There’s also more vehicle interaction as you’ll get to drive tanks and fly helicopters.

 

If you played the original game, then you would know that Sly was only able to sustain a maximum of two hits before he would be incapacitated. Well this time, the developers totally overhauled the health system. You now have a health gauge on the top left of your screen. Even though your character has more health this time around, it’s really not a great idea to pick a fight with every enemy you see because they sustain more damage and are a lot smarter. Sometimes picking a fight with a single enemy can alert other enemies who will soon make life harder for you.

 

Sly has a lot more stealth and action moves this time around. One of the best new additions is the ability to pickpocket enemies. Some missions will require you to pick pocket keys from guards in order to open certain doors or locks. Other times you can just pickpocket enemies for the fun of it and you’ll find nice surprises like coins or merchandise.

 

What’s the point of the merchandise? Well the developers have implemented something called ThiefNet, which is sort of like EBay. You can sell whatever you’ve pickpocketed from enemies in exchange for coins. You can then use your coins to buy different gadgets for Sly, Bentley or Murray.  A small number of the game’s missions require that you actually purchase specific gadgets from ThiefNet.

 

sly 2 review          sly 2 review

 

The presentation is very similar to the original game. The game still looks and sounds like a Saturday morning cartoon. The game’s story is told from Sly, Murray and Bentley’s perspectives; and Bentley and Sly provide the narrative for the game. The game seems to have a darker feel this time around, but doesn’t shy away from any comedy. There is still plenty of innuendo that fits in perfectly. The voice acting is excellent, although it is annoying to hear Murray always talk in third person.

 

There only two complaints I have with the game. My first and biggest complaint is the camera. While the camera is controlled using the right analog stick, the camera at times doesn’t always focus on the action. There were a couple times where the camera would pan too far behind my character and would get “stuck” on objects in the environment. This isn’t too serious of a problem, but if you play the game for a long period of time, you’ll certainly notice it. My other problem is that the game lacks replayability, but this is common problem with a lot of platform games. The only reason to play through the game a second time is to unlock new stealth moves for Sly to use. The moves are unlocked by collecting thirty green bottles that are scattered throughout each of the environments. Often the bottles are placed in well hidden spots and can be a pain to find.

 

The frame rate problems from the first game have been fixed and game looks much better. The animation looks more fluid and the game’s environments as well as characters have a much more refined look to them.

 

Sly 2: Band of Thieves (S2BT) was definitely worth the long wait. The game completely over-delivers and will surprise you at every corner with its diverse mission design. S2BT is definitely the best platformer I have played in a long time and if you enjoyed the first game or just enjoy platformer games in general then you owe it to yourself to check out this game.

 

- Siddharth Masand

(September 10, 2004)

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