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Developer:
Sucker Punch
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS2
Release Date: September 14, 2004

by Josh Ferguson




Sly 2: Band of Thieves is the sequel to 2002's hit, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. This time around much of the game is more focused on stealth and action. With these changes, fans of the original Sly Cooper are in for one fun ride!


The story in Band of Thieves takes place two years after Sly and the rest of the gang defeated Clockwork and the other members of the Fiendish Five. Since Sly's victory, the pieces of Clockwork have remained under the control of the Police at Interpol. However, recently the parts have been stolen by a new group of baddies known as the Klaww Gang. It is now up to Sly, Bentley, and Murray to reclaim the stolen parts and bring down the Klaww Gang.


One of the key differences between the original Sly game and Band of Thieves is the actual levels. In the original Sly Cooper, there were several stages, or episodes, that were split up into several smaller levels. These levels were pretty straightforward, and the only main objective was to acquire the key and maybe a page of the Thievius Raccoonus. However, Sly 2 still features many different episodes, but each episode only contains one actual level. Each of these levels are filled with different types of missions, and it reminds me more of the Jak series rather than the original Sly Cooper. However, many of the missions Sly is unable to complete alone, and this is where Bentley and Murray come in. This time, not only is Sly a playable character, but all three of the members of the gang are!


In the original Sly Cooper, we learned that Sly is the one with the thief-like reflexes, while Bentley is the brains and Murray is the brawn of their operation. While each of the characters share somewhat of the same basic attacks, Murray is obviously stronger than the other two members of the gang. Murray's punches not only do more damage, but launch enemies across the screen. And Bentley, well, being the brains of the group, is physically the weakest member. However, to help even the odds, he carries around a dart gun that is used to knock guards and other enemies out. Bentley is also the demolitionist of the group and has the ability to lay down bombs. So you can see that with those two abilities, Bentley can be quite a threat.


Other than the abilities I've already named, each member of the Cooper gang can also gain their own new and unique abilities. By acquiring enough golden coins, players are able to purchase different abilities for the characters from something called Thief-net. Using his computer, Bentley purchases these abilities, some of which will remain with you at all times, while others will have to be equipped. Each character can equip three of these different abilities, but the ones that can be used at all times don't count toward this number. On the downside, most of the abilities really aren't worth the cost and almost seem somewhat useless.


While much of the original game relied on Sly using his thief instincts, this time around he will depend on them even more. In the original game, as long as the guards didn't see him, Sly could run right past them without any problem at all. However, no longer is it that easy. If Sly sprints, he faces the chance of an enemy hearing his steps and chasing after him. Also, enemies will no longer be defeated by only one swing of your cane, but normally will take several hits to actually defeat them. Once you get the attention of a guard, after a short period they will normally call out to others, bringing in reinforcements, making the combat much more difficult and making the idea of stealth all that much more important.


Another new aspect in the game is the ability of Sly Cooper to pickpocket his enemies. In order to do this, Sly must first sneak up behind an enemy and then use the circle button to snatch something out of their pockets. This skill will be used quite often to obtain either keys or other objects that will be needed to defeat certain missions. You can also use this ability to snatch gold coins from your enemies, which makes it much easier to purchase different abilities from Thief-net.


While there are many, one of the best features of Band of Thieves is the presentation of the game. Graphically the game resembles the original, but looks quite a bit better. The levels are large and very nice looking, and the characters also share the same great look. The sound is also well done and it is nice to see that all of the main voice actors from the original game returned for the sequel. Other sound, including the in-game music fits very well with the atmosphere of the game.


It is also nice to see that the game continues the whole comic book feeling of the original. The only thing that the original game was missing was the "pow" and "bam" sounds that we all remember from the old school Batman series. Well, in Band of Thieves, occasionally when a guard is defeated, the words will flash up on the screen. Yes, very corny, but it does fit the game very well.


One of the only real problems with the game is the camera view. While it normally isn't that bad, there are times when it will become stuck on certain locations, making it very difficult to see where you are going. For the most part this wasn't that big of a problem, but like I said, there were the occasional times when the camera would get stuck and cause me to lose a life or so.


The actual length of the game is also quite a bit longer than the original game. And not only that, but the difficulty in Sly 2 has also increased. While I wouldn't say the game is exactly difficult, it is a little bit more difficult than the previous game, which was almost too easy.


Overall, Sly 2: Band of Thieves is a very good game that has a whole lot to offer. Fans of the original Sly Cooper will easily warm up to the sequel because it seems to stay very true to its roots. And with great graphics, good sound, fun characters, and some all-around fun action, Band of Thieves is an exciting game that is not only recommended to fans of the previous game, but to anyone who is looking for a fun action platformer.


Final Grade: 87%




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