The original Sly Cooper (Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus) was a truly under appreciated title that mixed outstanding graphics, a hilariously fun storyline and smooth gameplay. Unfortunately, like an amazing art school film that critics love and none of your friends bother to see, Sly slipped off the collective gaming radar rather quickly. This time around, developer Suckerpunch and publisher Sony are making sure that Sly gets his day in the sun, as Sly 2: Band of Thieves for the PlayStation 2 is a game that can only be defined as “pure magic.” The original Sly was funny, witty and fun, and with Sly 2, there’s more where that came from, and a little extra to make it shine.
Sly 2 works its magic on multiple levels, the first off being pure style. Graphically, it’s a gem to look at, with character models and environments that put modern cartoons to shame. Every character has a distinct look and style, and that distinctness is maintained right down to the way the character moves. For example, Sly’s a raccoon, and as such, he’s got lots of slink in his step, while his buddy Murray the hippo (and muscle of the team) has a sort of goofy bounce made more cartoonish by his sheer size. There’s not a character in this game that you could call generic. And don’t get me started about the voice acting, which is so spot-on Saturday morning cartoons good, it’ll have you reaching for a box of super-sugar-frosted-mega-bombs cereal to eat while you play.
Gameplay-wise, Sly 2 has all the trappings of modern action-platformers and then some. Sure there’s plenty of jumping, swinging, slinking and target shooting needed for you to accomplish missions, but this time around, you get to decide the how and when to use these abilities. For example, there’s a level where you must follow Dimitri, a not-so-nice denizen of the underworld to gain access to his lair. Well, you could do like most would and just tail him (that’s a raccoon pun…get it?), or you could take to the rooftops, enjoying a bouncing, tiptoeing and swinging adventure all your own. The levels are all designed to offer some free roaming, so you’re not stuck with yet another linear action-platformer. This free roaming gameplay gives you plenty of reasons to come back and retry levels later on, should you be so inclined (and you probably will replay them, just to enjoy the sheer “fun” of the game).
In the original game, Sly Cooper was assisted by his two pals, Murray the Hippo and Bentley the Turtle. These characters really only stepped in during animated sequences or mission briefings. However, in Sly 2, you get to control these fine fellows, and they each come with a set of tasks that you’ll need to accomplish to help Sly finish the caper. And these guys have plenty of character, just playing as Bentley and watching his nervous little nerdy-turtle facial features change is enough to keep you chuckling for hours. While it’s not what I’d consider something worth dinging the game’s score for, I do wish there was a multiplayer option where you and a friend could take different characters through a mission together, relying on one another’s key strengths to get the job done. But hey, maybe we’ll get that in Sly 3.
As you can tell by now, I loved this game and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see some of the most finely tuned platform gaming available on the PlayStation 2. It’s a definite “buy” in my book.
- Gameplay: 9
- Free roaming levels and the ability to play multiple characters kicks the fun in gear.
- Graphics: 9
- Spot-on Saturday morning cartoon candy.
- Sound: 9
- Great voice acting for the main characters, though a little repetitive for the bad guys.
- Replay: 9
- While it might not seem that long of a game at first blush, the free roaming lets you retry levels from all sorts of angles.
- Overall: 9
- A solid game, worthy of plenty of your time.