Sly 2: Band of Thieves

Review

posted 11/7/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Sly Cooper had the unfortunate task of going head-to-head with Sony’s other juggernaut Ratchet & Clank. Because it preached finesse and patience the game garnered less attention than the testosterone-infused R&C. This time Sly has the luxury of starting off first in order to expose itself to a larger market. It’s a great move on the part of SCEA because it gives gamers who might not normally give the series a chance an opportunity to have at it while they’re waiting for the holiday rush.

Sly 2 picks up where the original left off; the evil Clockwerk is imprisoned and the family’s guide to thievery has been returned to its rightful owner. Although Sly apprehended the evil bird the body was placed into the hands of the authorities. In an effort to ensure that the bird doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, Sly sets out to steal the parts for his own safe keeping. However, he finds out that he’s too late and that someone has already beaten him to the punch. It’s up to Sly and his band of lovable misfits to retrieve the parts and ensure that the world can rest easy.

In tune with the original, Sly 2 unfolds over 8 missions which take place in 5 distinct worlds. Like before the missions are broken up into little sub-missions that comprise the main objective. The missions are very well crafted and will challenge the most experienced gamer. There are a wide variety of missions including stealth missions, breaking and entering missions and some of the hardest boss battles this side of Contra. What’s great about the missions is that you never feel like you’re getting the runaround. Each mini-objective is pertinent to the main task and you won’t be sent out on missions just for the heck of it. If you’re in town to steal a feather you’ll do things like take photos and infiltrate facilities, not participate in nonsensical things like water ski races and equestrian competitions. I like how everything relates to the main goal because it never feels like you’re doing a task just for the sake of wasting time. By doing this, none of the game feels like filler material and you’ll never be sent on a wild goose chase.

You’ll still be able to wander around the main mission hub but they’ve become much larger in scale and detail. While it’s fun to wander around the town it’s a shame that the developers didn’t add more to do. One of the key allures in Jak II is that the city operates like a real city in which laws are to be obeyed and civilians can be interacted with. Sly 2’s worlds really only exist as self-contained entities in which you traverse to access the next mission. There are guards which patrol the areas but not much else of interest. You’ll be able to destroy inanimate objects and such but the novelty wears off rather quickly.

Fans of the original will feel right at home in Sly 2. All of the controls are basically untouched with the exception of a few useful enhancements. There are now two attack buttons which can be used to chain together powerful combos. For the stealth-minded, a new sneak attack allows you to dispose of foes silently a la Solid Snake. The little blue sparkles make a return here to let you know when you can perform a context sensitive action such as rope climbing or sneaking. When sneaking isn’t an option a new run button allows Sly to travel faster; a great blessing for those who hated his slow jogging speed. It comes at a noise penalty but it’s great for when you need to trek across large amounts of land. Finally there’s a new hiding aspect which allows you to crawl under tables to elude the guards.
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