Game: Sly 2: Band of Thieves
Platform: Sony PlayStation 2
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony
Release Date: EU: 10/29/04, JP: 06/16/05, NA: 09/14/04
Genre: 3-D platformer
Players: 1

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the prequel to Sly 2, is a great game, but it has its fair share of shortcomings. It's too short, and Sly was near invincible by the end of the adventure. Sly's cohorts, Bentley and "The Murray," were playable, but Sly was the main star. Bentley and Murray were relegated to side games or missions that really could have been character independant. These points have all been addressed in Sly 2, which is longer, deeper, and more challenging than its predecessor. Sly's friends play a much larger role this time around as well.

Characters: All the main characters from the first game return in Sly 2. Sly Cooper, is the main character once again, and you'll be controlling him more than the other two player-controllable characters. He's a raccoon, a thief, a ladies' man, and an absolute blast to play. He controls smoothly, and he has access to far more areas than the other two because of his extensive repertoire of thief moves like wire-walking, pole-climbing, and parachute gliding. Sly is able to pickpocket baddies, and his weapon of choice is a cane. Bentley, a small turtle, is the brains of the operation. He comes up with the schemes, prefers to fight from afar with bombs, and has been known to hack a computer or two. Bentley can control an RC helicopter armed with lasers and bombs, and his weapons of choice are a crossbow loaded with sleep darts and an assortment of bombs. Murray, or as he refers to himself, "The Murray," is a hippo and the brawns of the outfit. He is useful for lifting heavy things and fighting off throngs of baddies without taking too much damage. He's slow and loud, but his ability to pick up and throw objects makes him a force to be reckoned with. Murray drives the gang's van, and his weapons of choice are his fists and whatever he can pick up to throw at enemies.

Carmelita Fox, a fox, is a police officer who is obsessed with catching Sly Cooper and his gang. She carries a shock pistol, is angry most of the time, and she seems to have a thing for Sly, who has been known to flirt with her on more than one occassion. Constable Neyla, a cat, is a new face this time around. She is something of a protege to Carmelita, but she's not above bending the rules if the end result suits her. She's very fast, and she helps Sly and his gang more than once. The Contessa, a spider, is an Interpol psyciatrist. She runs a hospital for criminals and tries to rehabilitate them. Clockwerk also returns, albeit in pieces. Sly and his gang are trying to regain the Clockwerk parts from the Klaww gang to ensure that they are never reassembled. The minor characters in this game are:

  • Dimitri - some sort of lizard. He owns a nightclub in Paris.
  • Rajan - a tiger. He runs a spice operation in India.
  • Jean Bison - a bison. He runs a lumber company in the Yukon, and is keen on clear-cutting the entire forest
  • Arpeggio - a parrot. He has a giant blimp, and he's bitter that he can't fly.

Gameplay: Each of the three characters has a distinct play style, and the minigames and vehicle levels are well thought out. Sly moves very fluidly, and in an improvement from the previous game, he (and the others) can have three moves mapped to three shoulder buttons instead of one move mapped to the triangle button. Sly's moves lend themselves to hiding, sneaking, and jumping around on the rooftops. Bentley feels frail and is designed for ranged combat. He's most effective when putting an enemy to sleep and then bombing them. Murray, on the other hand, is a loud, slow, tank, and the player is encouraged to rush in and bust some heads. Each play style feels appropraite for the characters' personalities and attributes.

Each chapter has an ever-present hub. 30 clue bottles are scattered around this hub, and when they are all collected a vault containing a new move for Sly is available. These moves are largely unneccessary, but it is rewarding to find them. The game is broken up into missions rather than levels. Some missions take place in the hub, while some take place inside a building (or otherwise separate area). Some of the hub missions will permanently change the landscape, so missions aren't replayable this time around, but the immersion is better for it. After all, how many times can one blow up the same wall without completely shattering internal continuity? Just once. The vehicle levels also return this time around. There is a race, and there are several RC helicopter missions. There's also a turret mission. Each feels appropriate and controls well for what it is.

Graphics and Sound: Sly 2 is a beautiful game. The cartoony cel shading fits the feel of the adventure very well, and the environments are huge. It's not realistic, and it's not supposed to be. But given that you're controlling an anthropomorphized raccon, turtle, and hippo, it's completely believable that they inhabit this world. The voice acting in this game is excellent; I just wish they'd brought back Carmelita's voice from the first game. Particularly, I love Bentley's voice. He's geeky, scared, and a genius, and his voice fits perfectly.

Fun Factor: If you like 3-D platformers, you owe it to yourself to at least rent this game. It's length is satisfying, the characters are fantastic, and you'll find yourself thinking "just one more mission." It's just plain fun, and that's what games are supposed to be about. 8.5/10

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus | Sly 2: Band of Thieves | Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves

Source: - release dates

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