Sly Cooper Retrospective, Part Two

Released in 2004, Sly 2: Band of Thieves tells the story of Sly Cooper and his crew as they take on another group of criminals known as the Klaww gang. The Klaww gang have stolen pieces of Clockwerk, the mechanical leader of the Fiendish Five, the group Sly went after in the first game. Sly’s mission is to track down the members of the Klaww gang and steal back the Clockwerk parts.

Sly 2 introduces numerous new gameplay features to the series. The biggest addition is the ability to play as Bentley or Murray, the other members of Sly’s crew. Each character plays completely different with unique abilities. Sly is the most agile of the three, with abilities like running or sliding on rails, swinging from hooks or climbing up pipes and ropes, which allow him to access parts of the level that the others can’t, while also making it easier for him to avoid drawing attention from guards. Sly is also given a new pickpocketing ability. Many of the guards wear belts with pouches on them, and these pouches usually contain coins. Sly can sneak up behind them and use his cane to steal the coins from their pouches. Some pouches, identified with a glowing aura around them, even contain special items that Sly can sell for even more coins. Pickpocketing is optional with the exception of some missions that require you to steal special items from the guards.

Bentley, the smallest of the three, is armed with a crossbow that fires sleep darts, and he also has the ability to plant bombs. He’s able to eliminate the guards by hitting them with the sleep darts and then planting bombs next to them as they sleep. Murray is the biggest and slowest of the three but he’s also the strongest. His punches make quick work of the guards plus he can throw objects or even enemies.

The mission structure in Sly 2 is a big departure from the first game. The missions in Thievius Raccoonus primarily had you collecting keys. These keys would open up more of each level’s map and would eventually lead to a boss battle against one of the members of the Fiendish Five. In Sly 2, collecting keys is no longer each mission’s main objective. In fact, objectives will vary from mission to mission. For instance, one mission will have you taking recon photos of the level, highlighting areas of interest that can prove useful in future missions. Other mission objectives include sneaking into a member of the Klaww Gang’s office and planting a bug so you can spy in on him, and bombing a bridge to cut off reinforcements from getting to you. Some mission objectives will repeat themselves. You’ll find yourself taking recon photos on multiple levels, and you’ll also find yourself having to pickpocket special items from guards several times throughout the game. Still though, this new mission structure is welcome, and the number of things you’ll find yourself doing in this game keeps things fresh. Plus, as was mentioned before, Sly isn’t the only one carrying out missions now. Some missions must be carried out by Bentley or Murray.

One thing you’ll notice almost immediately playing Sly 2 is its greater emphasis on stealth. Much like the first game you’ll find guards that are patrolling the map with flashlights, and they’ll spot you if you’re caught in the light. This time around, you’ll also find enemies that don’t carry flashlights, and they will be alerted to you if you’re caught in their line of sight. These guards tend to be weaker then guards with flashlights, requiring fewer hits to defeat. Guards with flashlights are generally tougher, with many of them carry a firearm of some kind. You can still take out the guards without them seeing you, but Sly and Murray have to use special combo attacks to do it. Bentley can use his crossbow and bombs. Some missions will end in failure if you’re spotted, but for the most part being spotted means getting into a pretty tough fight with the enemies who have caught on to you. To assist you in staying out of sight, Sly 2 provides a new thief meter. A yellow pulse will emit from the thief meter to let you know that it’s time to tread carefully. When the thief meter flashes red, you’ve been spotted, and it’s either time to stay and fight or run away.

An interesting addition to Sly 2 is the optional use of a USB headset, which is used in a similar way in Manhunt for the PlayStation 2. During the game the character you’re controlling will be contacted by the other members of the team. If you’re wearing the USB headset, messages will come through the headset’s earpiece instead of the TV speakers. When you’re wearing the headset you also have to be careful not to make any noise when moving around the level. If you talk, or even sneeze while sneaking around nearby guards will get startled and run to investigate the noise. Not only does you character need to stay silent, but so do you.

Another interesting addition is ThiefNet. ThiefNet is like an online store where Sly’s crew can buy new gadgets and powerups. You can buy a smokescreen for Sly, which can obscure guards’ vision and allow you to escape from them if they’ve spotted you, or you can buy a powerup for Bentley that shrinks enemies when he hits them. Murray can be given the ability to have enemies or objects he’s thrown explode on impact. Items like these can be purchased through ThiefNet using the coins you get from destroying objects or from the enemies you have defeated. Special items placed throughout levels which Sly can steal, or items pickpocketed from guards can also be sold for more coins. New moves can also be obtained from safes, which can be opened after you find all the clue bottles in a level, similar to the first game.

Visually Sly 2 keeps the same cell-shaded style of the first game, along with that game’s colorful, detailed worlds. Sly 2’s levels however, are a bit larger then those found in the first game. The voice work this time around is also well done, with standout performances for me going to Murray, and the various members of the Klaww gang.

With larger worlds, more mission variety , and other nice additions like the ability to play as either Sly, Bentley, or Murray, Sly 2: Band of Thieves is an improvement over Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, which is itself a great game. For those that will be playing this as part of the upcoming collection, you will not be disappointed.

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Written by Paul Nash

Paul is originally from New York City but now lives in South Florida (A former New Yorker now living in Florida? That NEVER happens…). Paul has been playing video games for a long time. He started playing games during the days of the Sega Master System and NES, and hasn’t really stopped since. He’s owned just about all of the major consoles since then, and quite honestly, doesn’t see the sense in stopping now. Some of his favorite games include Revenge of Shinobi, Final Fantasy Tactics, and The Mark of Kri.

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