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Sly Cooper 2: Band of Thieves

Romier S

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Hey, cool! I just started playing the original game the other night and have been enjoying it quite a bit. I only fear that it will be over too soon (I've heard it's a fairly short game). At least now I can look forward to the sequel.


With this series, the Jak games and the Ratchet and Clank series, I think the Playstation 2 has proven itself to be the ultimate machine for platformer lovers. At least I know it has for me.


Thanks for the link, Romier!

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Someone from the Gaming Age forums posted these impressions from the OPM ariticle:


"Just got the issue today, here's the highlights.


-Far more elaborate traps for Sly to get past. Prince of Persia-like in complexity.


-2X of everything. Twice the length of the first game.


-New abilities for Sly such as picking pockets.


-No more 1 hit kills. Full damage system integrated in the game.


-Combat combos for Sly such as air juggles and finishing moves.


-Bentley (Turtle, uses explosives and tranquilizer gun, puzzle type gameplay) and Murray(big hippo, powerful to pick up objects,does belly flop, throw objects ect) are both playable.


-Episodes focus on big heists such as Oceans 11 and Italian Job in complexity. Work in conjuction with all three characters to pull it off (this seems really cool)


-No more horseshoe or bottle collecting


- Guards are much smarter this time around, will actively pursue you you if they spot you.


-No more hubs in the game. Much more open sense of freedom (says they were inspired by GTA..) Less linear levels.


- Sly's binocular has been upgraded to show highlighted objectives and directions. No more map.


-Story is about a new group of villains who have stolen peices of Clockwerk and are using it for their own purposes. Sly must stop them to make sure Clockwerk is not peiced together again



That's about it. Graphics seem pretty much the same, meaning it looks pretty good. Seems like more the same, the OPM article is really just a teaser, shows only the first level. I really want to see more. Any questions, just ask."

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Having just recently completed the first game, I was planning on doing a mini-review of it. After reading that post, Romier, I no longer see any need to do so. Whatever critiques I had of the first game - and I will be honest, there were several - seem to be addressed in the sequel. It's as if Sucker Punch has been sifting around in my head, trying to figure out how they could make their star franchise better. Of course, that would be impossible for them to do for no other reason than I just finished playing it this past week. The only possible explanation I can imagine is that they built a time machine, traveled into the future, and then read my mind. Yep, that's probably what happened.


Seriously though, I really like the first game, and it sounds as though they are trying to make the sequel into one of the biggest titles of the year. What I really liked about The Thievius Raccoonus was how it tried to blend stealth and platforming. It was sort of like Splinter Cell if it were a cartoon. Still, I don't think they took that element far enough. It was as if they had this great idea, but didn't have enough time to develop it to its full. The spotlights and and laser detection systems were usually pretty easy to sneak past and even if you were spotted, nothing happened, so long as you took out the sirens before you died.


And the guards? Well, let's just say that The Fiendish Five obviously went cheap on their security personnel, because the enemy A.I. was a joke. I hope that in Band of Thievs, there is a much greater emphasis on sneaking up behind guards and taking them out covertly, like in Splinter Cell. And, if you're spotted, the guards do something like raise and alarm and call in more buddies to take you out.


I am also intrigued by the possibilities of making this more like Grand Theft Auto (or shall we call it Grand Theft Cooper?) I tend to prefer linear platform games, but if the open-ended gameplay allows multiple solutions to problems, then I'd be all for it. A game like this should be about using your head as much as testing your reflexes. So if something goes wrong with plan A, you always have plan B as a back-up. Maybe they could make it so that if one of Sly's heists goes bad, he gets pursued by the cops and if he gets caught, Bently and Murray have to use their collective know-how to bust him out of the slammer. But, hey, I may be hoping for too much in that regard.


On the technical side of things, Sucker Punch just needs to make the new game look and sound better and I'll be happy. The voice acting in the first one was appropriately exaggerated and cartoony and the music was very catchy and memorable. Do that again, and do it in Dolby Pro-Logic II. Also, would I sound too greedy if I asked for 480p and 16:9 support? :D Naughty Dog and Insomniac are doing it! Why can't ol' Sly get the royal treatment? (Actually, I sort of expect that he will, but it never hurts to ask, right?)


Well, reading over this post again, I sort of realize that it inadvertently became a mini-review of the first game with a sprinkle of what I'd like to see in the new one. So, I'll just shut up now and thank Romier for the update and say that I will be keeping a watchful eye on this in the coming months.

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  • 2 weeks later...

IGN has an update on this title this evening. First there are these hands-on impressions of the current build. Here is an exerpt:


The gameplay design feels much more open in Sly 2 than the original, but this is by no means a variation on Grand Theft Auto 3 with a wide open cityscape. Each episode takes place in an open environment where several "jobs" must be done before the final heist can occur. These jobs form a somewhat linear list for each environment, but the open levels affect the overall feel in terms of what's possible.


To make this wide open world work with new characters and open gameplay, Sucker Punch scrapped the engine for Sly Cooper and rebuilt a new engine from scratch. One of the members of the QA team admitted that the framerate problems of the original was not something that Sucker Punch was proud of and creating a smooth engine was a priority.


Sounds like fun!


For IGN Insiders, there's also a pair of interviews with the game's producer and the art director. I'm getting more excited about this one everytime I hear something new about it.

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Sounds great. I'm pretty psyched for this one.


Regarding them rebuilding the engine from scratch, I hope they don't slow it down. One of the things I really liked about the original engine was the speed and responsiveness, especially of the camera, when compared to other contemporaries like Ratched & Clank.

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  • 4 months later...

There are a few new articles about this game at the major news sites. First off, GameSpot has some updated impressions of the latest build. Overall, they seem pretty pleased with it.


IGN, on the other hand, can barely contain its giddy at the prospect of playing the final version. If you read this article, you'll discover why. Essentially, it explains how thieving can help Sly and his gang unlock new abilities to aid their progress in the game. Essentially, you can steal money from baddies by pick-pocketing them and then use this stolen loot to buy these new abilities on Theifnet, which is described as a sort of eBay for thieves. There's a little more to it than that, obviously, but I'll save the rest for the actual article. Additionally, it goes on to explain a bit more about how the three playable characters (Sly, Bentley, and Murray) differ in their abilities and play styles, and how ThiefNet will also enhance the rest of Sly's gang.


In all, I must say that from the looks of things, Sly 2 is shaping up to be one hell of a great platformer. I can't wait to steal me a copy next month and finally try it out for myself.

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  • 1 month later...

The Year of the Platformer begins!


I finally got my thievius hands on this game today, and after a little over two hours of playtime, I managed to complete the first major heist of the game.


All I can say is... wow! The last time I smiled this much playing a game was Ninja Gaiden. I had expected either Jak 3 or Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal to be the undisputed platformer king of 2004, but Sly 2 may give those two highly respected franchises a little competition. I'll hold any further comments until I finish the game and can post a proper review. I will say, however, that if the quality I'm seeing now holds up all the way through to the end, this will be as necessary a part of any platformer collection as Super Mario 64 or Rayman 2. It's that good.


More to come...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Early on in Sly 2: Band of Thieves, Bentley the Turtle, the brains of Sly Cooper's gang, outlines a simple, fool-proof plan for a heist into a Paris nightclub. First, he and Murray (the gang's "muscle") must break into a water tower to shut down a fountain outside of the nightclub. This will cause a repairman to exit the club in order to fix it. Sly must then pick-pocket the repairman to get the keys to his truck, then rendezvous with Bentley and Murray, who will then steal the truck, drive it to the night club while Sly climbs to the top of the clubs front neon sign. They will then shoot a rope up to him, so that he can attach to the sign, allowing Bentley and Murray to use the truck to tear it down. The resulting hole will lead Sly directly into the club, where he will find his prize: the tail feathers of his arch nemesis, Clockwerk.


When I saw this, I had to smile. I realized then that this project was truly a labor of love for Sucker Punch Studios. The entire game is brimming with details such as this. Whereas most titles feel like a mish-mash of unexplained objectives and abstract goals, Sly 2 is a amazingly detailed in its explanations. Everything has a purpose and every mission you complete feels like part of a much bigger plan.


The first title in the series, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, made its way to the Playstation 2 two years ago. Developed by a little-known studio, whose only other previous game was an excellent but overlooked N64 platformer called Rocket: Robot on Wheels, it stood out from the glut of other 3D platformers with its unique cell-shaded graphics and Saturday morning cartoon presentation. While it did receive a mostly favorable reception from critics and gamers, it did suffer from a choppy frame rate, an overly linear design, and a total playtime of less than ten hours for a skilled gamer. Thankfully, Band of Thieves addresses these issues, ultimately re-inventing the series. The result is a game that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jak and Ratchet and Clank series as one of the premier platformers on the PS2 or any other console for that matter.


The game follows the exploits of the Cooper gang as they travel the world in search of the various body parts of Sly?s arch nemesis, Clockwerk, whom he defeated at the end of the first game. The members of the evil Klaww gang, an international organization that sells illegal spices, have split up the body of the mechanical bird and are using it for their own corrupt purposes. Hot on Sly?s trail, as always, is the beautiful Carmelita Fox, who is now accompanied by a new character, Constable Neeyla. The story unfolds through a combination of highly stylized cinema scenes, radio conversations between Sly and his gang, and Bentley?s charming slide show presentations. It?s a slick package for a video game and highly entertaining at that. Sucker Punch could have delivered a straightforward story with little depth; thankfully, it remains interesting because not everything goes to plan. Just when you think you?ve got a handle on how every chapter is going to play out, a twist occurs, leaving you wondering how the Cooper gang will get out of their predicament.


The story unfolds across eight episodes, each of which takes place in a unique location. Whereas the levels in the first game were split up into smaller ? and very linear ? portions, the levels in this game are more akin to what you saw in Super Mario 64. In other words, they?re big, they?re open, and you can go pretty much anywhere you want. Their and the way in which they are utilized is one of the game?s most impressive achievements. They're all playgrounds for Sly and his abilities, brimming with nooks, crannies, telephone poles, vines, wires, rooftops, and anything else for him to climb on, hide under, run across, or jump over. Jobs take place within these environments, with the occasional interior area. Beating the game and obtaining the Clockwerk parts requires a player know these areas very well.


Since Sly is a thief, a big part of the game involves sneaking around without being detected. The original game hinted at the possibility of mixing platformer game mechanics with stealth, but never achieved it in the final package. Now we can finally see how well the two mix together. Perhaps the most important of Sly?s new moves is his ability to pick pocket guards. By doing this, he can not only lighten them of any money they may be carrying, but also walk away with jewelry and various other mini-treasures. These items can then be sold on ThiefNet, which is a sort of eBay for thieves. There, the Cooper gang can buy new moves to aid them in their quest.


Thankfully, the game avoids the trail-and-error game play trap that many stealth-based titles like Splinter Cell fall into by giving Sly an effective means of dealing with enemies. If a guard spots him, he can either stand his ground and fight off the bad guys or run away if the situation is too dire. Still, stealth is the name of the game here, and players are rewarded for going about undetected with more loot and a better chance of survival.


Sucker Punch has also done away with the one-hit kills this time out, opting instead to give Sly and the gang health bars, allowing them to take several hits before dying. I shudder to think of how frustrating it would have been to traverse Sly 2?s huge levels if these changes hadn?t been made.


Like any good platformer, there?s a lot of variety to be had here, most notably in the form of Sly?s partners, Bentley and Murray. This time out, both characters are playable and both bring a unique set of skills to the table. Murray?s more of a straight up fighter, while Bentley?s small size and wimpy attacks force him to use traps and bombs from a distance to deal with baddies. The best missions usually involve more than one character; for instance, a mission may begin with Bentley hacking into a number of computer systems to open a door, allowing Sly to get inside and finish the job. The majority of the game is still played as Sly, since he is the most agile of the trio and can go pretty much anywhere he wants.


Visually, the game adheres to the visual design of the first Sly Cooper. Everything is cell shaded and the world features no right angles whatsoever. It?s a brilliant look and I loved every minute I got to stare at it. If there is one thing that improved here, it?s the more consistent frame rate. Don?t expect to see any choppiness with this title, even when staring out across the vast worlds and all of their geometry. The only complaint I had was that the visuals seemed a bit too dark at times, and there was no brightness adjustment in the game itself. This forced me to turn up the brightness setting on my TV whenever I played it ? not something I like to do. Sly 2: Band of Thieves also does not support 480p nor does it feature a 16:9 mode.


As I mentioned earlier, the voice acting is superb. It certainly is the best part about the audio in Sly 2. This Dolby Pro-Logic II soundtrack stays mostly in the front speakers with an occasional noise coming from the surround channels. The music is good, although not memorable, and the over-the-top sound effects work well with the visuals.


If you?ve read the bulk of this review, you?ll probably come to the conclusion that I liked Sly 2 a lot. You would be correct. The question is, is it worth your $40? I think so. If you?re like me and find everything there is to get, it will take over 20 hours for you to beat it (I clocked in a 22 hours, 25 minutes!). Granted, there isn?t any reason to go back and play it again other than for the joy of playing it again. If you are a fan of platformers though, this is simply a must-have title. Sly Cooper: and the Thievius Raccoonus put Sucker Punch Studios on the map; Sly 2 proves that they can produce games as good as any out there. Easily, it?s one of the year?s best games. Play it now!

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Originally posted by FutureVoid@Sep 27 2004, 01:47 AM

Fantastic write-up Jeff! Thank you.

My pleasure, Romier! I'm always happy to contribute my thoughts.


To be honest though, there's still a lot that I didn't talk about in that review. I may have to go back and do a George Lucas-like Special Edition of it to get all that new material in. Seriously, there's that much to talk about. However, the thought of making that review any longer hurts my head at this time of the day. Maybe I'll think about it later.


What's interesting for me is going back and re-reading the comments I made back in February about the first one. I'm actually somewhat shocked at how many of the things I hoped for ended up in the sequel. I won't go into specifics for those of you who want to play Sly 2 without any spoilers, but I will say that my desire to see stealth and platforming brought together worked far better than I could have possibly hoped.


I would like to respond to one more thing though:


-No more horseshoe or bottle collecting


This is not true. While there are no more horseshoes (they are unnecessary since you have a life bar now), you still do collect bottles to crack safes. The only difference now is that you only collect 30 bottles for each episode, and they're scattered all about the exterior maps. The good news is that the bottles aren't that difficult to find. I managed to get every single one without too much trouble; a thorough sweep of the levels will usually be enough to get them all. Since you end up going through every part of the levels doing the various jobs anyway, it's even easier.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, I was playing this a bit tonight and though I've never played the first game I have to say that this is one kick-ass platformer.


Really, really great. I don't own a PS2, but this game makes me want one :).


The only thing I don't like is that there wasn't a 'center the camera' button that I could find. Every platform game in 3D should be forced to include one as a default.

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Originally posted by Pharmboy@Oct 11 2004, 12:23 AM

Really, really great. I don't own a PS2, but this game makes me want one :).

Mark, let me just say that if you do happen to get a PS2, you'll be very happy with the selection of platformers that have just opened up to you. Not only will you have both Sly Cooper games at your disposal, you'll also have the Ratchet and Clank and Jak Trilogies to play. Believe me, those are the best platformers you can play this generation on any system.


I'm glad to hear you liked Sly 2. Now go buy a PS2! :)

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  • 2 months later...

Jason, trust me on this. As much as you like the first one, the second will make that game look like a turd in comparison. It's only $40 right now, and well worth every single penny you pay for it. If I had to rank it, I would say it was the third best game from 2004 I played behind Ninja Gaiden and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. So, yeah definitely check it out.

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  • 1 year later...

Well, JFo, I'm trying hard to like this... But it's a battle. I like the mechanics. I like the style. I like the "feel" of it. But I keep messing up & getting exceptionally frustrated, even at simple missions like follow Dimitri around.


I think it's doomed to be a game I'd rather watch than play.

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I just lost what little respect I had left for you.


Okay, maybe that's a little extreme. ;) However, I can certainly understand your frustration given your admiration of stealth in games.

Sly 2 definitely has a lot of that and if that's not your thing, it's not your thing.


Hey, you at least we got you into Ratchet and Clank now, so I can at least verify that you have some good taste in games. :)

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