29 Oct, 2004

Sly 2: Band of Thieves Review

PS2 Review | Sly's back.
Platformers have evolved immensely in the last decade. They have successfully made the jump from 2D to 3D, included longer levels and, two years ago, Sly Racoon introduced cel-shading into the world of platforming. Sly Racoon was a good game that had one severe fault - it lasted under five hours. Not to be deterred by this, Sony have created a sequel and not only have they quadrupled how long it takes to complete the game, they have created one hell of a title that is surprisingly enjoyable for everyone. And, more importantly, Sly 2: Band of Thieves has combined several different genres intertwined into the one game. This is not one linear platformer.

The main asset that Sly 2 possesses is the cell-shaded look. This gives the game a completely different look to other platformers and really sets it apart, it also means that Sly 2 doesn't suffer from looking the same as other platformers. This gives Sly 2 an advantage from the very beginning as everything is different to what players are use to.

The entire storyline of Sly 2 reads like a comic book, including the cut scenes. So what’s the story? Word is out that Interpol has excavated the robotic remains of Clockwerk – Sly's nemesis and sworn enemy of the Cooper clan. Sly and his gang discover the parts of Clockwerk are missing, and embark on a quest to ensure Clockwerk is never reassembled. Basically, this means that Sly gets to go around the world with locations ranging from Prague, Paris and India. Before a level begins there is also a very lengthy introduction which shows the player the task that is ahead of them.

Sly isn’t alone this time, being joined by Murray and Bentley. Bentley is the brains behind the team and Murray is the brawn. Players have the ability to play as all three characters. Each level of the game is divided into episodes - eight in total - which are quite lengthy. The environment around Sly and his band of thieves is fully interactive and coins can be found in the most obscure surroundings. Sly 2 not only rewards exploration, but it encourages it.

Gadgets were a great addition in the original Sly, but remained relatively pointless once they had been used once. They are back again and updated with binocucom's for each crewmember, parachutes, ice axes and spy cams. Other gadgets can also be unlocked as players go through episodes.

The overall game play of Sly 2 is captivating and immersive. The worlds are diverse and look fantastic. The levels have a good variety of goals, ranging from dodging boss fire to sneaking stealthily along the wires on rooftops. The levels all look distinctly different and the game has such great variety that it never gets repetitive.

Sly 2 also has a great control scheme which features a lot of moves and doesn't feel "dumbed down" to older players. Sly and his companions move intuitively and their moves look extremely fluent and even comic book like.

Sucker Punch seem to have learnt from their previous errors and Sly 2 contains a lot of unlockables to keep gamers coming back to the game even after they have completed it. These unlockables include a “making of” and a commercial movie. These are novel additions which are really appreciated and will keep the player returning to the game.

Sly 2 itself looks absolutely incredible. The cel-shading has been refined so perfectly that Sly 2 actually looks like a comic book. Sly 2 just looks flat out cool. When the camera first surveys a level in the game, it just looks amazing. There are no draw distance issues and the cut-scenes look great. PALGN has trouble thinking of many other games on the Playstation 2 that look as good.

Sly 2 is also one of the better looking platformers around and at times it is surprising that it is a Playstation 2 title. Sucker Punch seemed to have really mastered cell-shading and Sly 2 is definitely one of the best looking cell-shaded games around. With a few fantastic platformers set for release in the next few months this presentation will help set Sly 2 apart from its competition.

The audio is also surprisingly good. The voiceover work is really good quality and the background music is extremely immersive, with the James Bond like spy themes helping to set the overall tone of the game well. The audio is just another asset to the game which gives it a very slick and professional presentation.

We must admit that we were skeptical that Sly 2: Band of Thieves would be anything other than a shallow child’s game. We are pleased to be proven wrong and Sly 2 is not only a fantastic platforming game, but it is also great fun to play. Cel-shading can often be a novelty to what’s hiding a very shallow game (ie. Auto Modellista) it is fantastic to see a game that has style as well as substance.

Sly 2: Band of Thieves is the first of a trio of platformers Sony will be bringing out this year (Jak III and Ratchet and Clank III will be out soon). If the other two games want to establish themselves as quality titles then they will need to be better than Sly 2 - a feat that could be harder than it sounds.

Sly 2 is one of the best platformers out this year, which is a big surprise. A lot of people will judge this game by its cover and skip over it, but doing so will mean the player will be missing one of the better action romps this year.

We are very surprised about the evolution that Sly has gone through. In two years the game has evolved from being a shallow linear platformer to a lengthy, creative and mesmorising title that is well worthy of a purchase.
The Score
Sly 2: Band of Thieves is a fantastic platformer that turned out much better than we were anticipating. It would be a real shame to miss this title.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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9 years ago
Saw it at EB today, great to hear it's a worthy for purchasing. icon_smile.gif
9 years ago
Playing the game and it is by far the best game in the genre I have played to date - maybe the best game I have played this year period. It is absolutely fantastic, I would have given this game a 9+. It is much longer than the first game, there is no way that you can beat this game in less than 20 hours, "10 hours to collect everything" is a bit misleading.
9 years ago
Playing this game and it is fantastic! Best game of the genre to date one of the best games to come out this year.
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