Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Sucker Punch
Genre
Platformer
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Great style and design
• Variety of gameplay
• Quality music and voice acting
• Next to no loading

The Bad

• Won't be much of challenge for most
• Noticeable slowdown
• Too short

 
Grade
B

The story opens in Paris, France, as master thief Sly Cooper breaks into the police department to acquire a file that he needs. With the information, he can track down the Fiendish Five, who stole his family's Thievius Raccoonus, a tome of thievery techniques that has been passed down through the ages. With the aid of his friends, Murray and Bentley, Sly travels to where each of the Fiendish Five have run off to to recover their portion of his family's book. All along the way, though, he's hounded by police officer Carmelita Fox.

Sly Cooper's gameplay is a platformer at heart, but with the inclusion of a stealth aspect, the formula is mixed up a little. Unlike past platformers, you're not fetching everything under the sun. Outside of the keys at the end of every level, you really don't need to collect much of anything. The game is broken up into different locations, and is introduced with a cartoon sequence explaining the history of the head boss of the location. After the intro, you have to navigate an entrance level to the main hub, where you'll have a handful of locations to go to get keys. Once you get the first batch of keys, you'll enter an interior hub where you'll have to finish another handful of levels (for more keys) before the final boss. Through each stage, you'll have to use Sly's stealth techniques, including sneaking along walls, climbing along poles and pipes and even jumping onto spires and small platforms, all of which can be done with the press of the Circle button. The further into the game you get, the more techniques you'll need to use as the guards, searchlights and floor panels get more challenging to get past. While you don't have to collect anything, you will find yourself grabbing gold coins to gain a protective horseshoe (good for one fatal hit or fall) and bottles, which if you collect all of them in a stage will give you a combination to unlock the safe and gain a new special move. The special moves, which can be toggled through the L2 and R2 buttons, can be activated through the Triangle button and include a roll dodge, diving attack and even a Max Payne Bullet Time move (which is basically for show as you can't do much with it). And to break up the platforming gameplay, from time to time you'll get to do mini-game levels, including car racing, using a hovercraft to light torches and using a cannon to shoot thugs as Murray runs for a key.

One of the best aspects of the game is how newer levels utilize moves that Sly has learned after defeating previous bosses. And, there's a good bit of variety, so levels you come across later in the game will be different than the ones at the beginning. One of my favorites is Back Alley Heist, which is played out like a 2D side-scroller, almost like an homage to the 2D platformers from which it's core "smash and jump" gameplay has evolved.

Visually, the game is done with a fine cartoon-like flair. Intro and ending sequences for each section are nicely animated and the cel-shading of the characters and a lot of the environmental elements are nicely done and work as a complete package. The art direction and character design for Sly Cooper is top notch. Not every aspect of the game is cel-shaded, but Sucker Punch has managed to find a nice balance between the two styles to make the game work visually. Levels are designed well and look really good. As stealth and the darker settings are essential to the story, lighting effects add a nice touch. On the whole, the game has a great look and complete style that works well.

Technically, though, Sly Cooper is hit and miss. Sucker Punch has managed to minimize or even hide the loading in the game behind the cutscenes. Transitions between the hub and levels have a minimal pause of a second or two. On the other hand, the game suffers noticeable slowdown, especially when you hit certain items, which cough up coins when smashed. For the most part, the game runs smoothly, but from time to time, it'll slow down to a crawl for a few seconds, which proves to be an annoyance. On top of that is a weird blurring effect when you swing the camera around that may go hand in hand with the slowdown issue.

Much like the graphics, the audio portion is nicely done. The voices fit perfectly for the cartoony air of the game. You won't hear any grim DeNiro-like performances, but for Sly Cooper, the acting is just fine. An added touch is the communication sequences between Sly and Bentley, which are very much similar to Metal Gear Solid 2's codec sequences, except less wordy. Also, the music has a nice variety and is very catchy. From time to time, you might even catch yourself humming along with some of the tunes.

While Sly Cooper has a lot going for it, including being just plain fun, it still has some issues which hold it back. First and foremost, the game is easy. Really easy. I would have a complaint with the fact that if your character misses a fall or takes a single hit, he dies, but without this gameplay choice, this game would be ridiculously easy. And, the easiness of the game isn't helped by the extreme forgiveness that hitting the Circle button to perform moves allows you. Make a jump anywhere near a hook or rail and hitting the Circle button will magically zoom Sly over to where he needs to land. Unless you jump out in the wrong direction all together or don't hit the button fast enough, you won't miss. Couple this with the 8+ hour length of the game and some gamers may feel their 50 bucks are well spent elsewhere.

Sly Cooper is such a fun character with enough charm to win you over immediately that most gamers should at least rent this game. It's fun and both looks and sounds good. If it weren't for both the slowdown issue, some minor glitches with the camera and the overall shortness and easiness of the game, this would be a must buy for most platforming fans. As it is, platforming veterans will blow through with ease, even though they'll enjoy the presentation and gameplay.

- - Kinderfeld

ILS is not affiliated with, endorsed by or related to any of the products, companies, artists or parties legally responsible for the items referred to on this website. No copyright infringement is intended.
Game Shots