Band of Brothers….

When the people at Sucker Punch came to me a few years ago and said, “Mr. Cooper, we would like to name our latest videogame hero after you,” I was honored. Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus turned out be a wonderful and Sly, which is my nickname, was an excellent character. Alright, I have a confession to make. Sucker Punch didn’t actually come and ask to name Sly Cooper after me and Sly is not my nickname. My overbearing ego aside, Sly’s sequel, Band of Thieves, is even better than the first and is a richly animated romp that gamers of any level will enjoy.

In Sly 1, the evil Clockwerk was defeated and the family’s thieving manual was back in Sly’s hands. Clockwerk’s parts were shipped to the offices of Interpol and all was once again right with the world. Our raccoon hero, who has abandoned the raccoon tradition of invading garbage cans, doesn’t feel Interpol is safe enough and decides to steal Clockwerk’s parts. Heroes can never just leave well enough alone. When Sly goes to steal the parts, he finds an International criminal organization called the Klaww Gang has beaten him to it. So Sly, Bentley the turtle and Murray the hippo must defeat Klaww and regain the parts of the nefarious Clockwerk. The greatest deviation from the original Sly is players will be able to control Bentley and Murray at various times. Bentley is the brains of the operation and developers have done an excellent job of making him look a little out of place when he is required to act in the field. He has a “please, just let me get through this” kind of appeal. Murray is the muscle and his big frame is suited for his more over-the-top moves, which includes throwing enemies into laser beams. The animation of Sly 2 is great and provides a smooth cartoon-like look without sacrificing game play or going too over the top. Some games geared toward younger players can get bogged down in being so visually childish I feel I should eat all my vegetables and be in bed before 8 p.m.

Game environments are shaded and colored so well they could easily pass as a Saturday morning cartoon. Character interactions with the environment are flawless. When Sly scales the rooftops or climbs aboard a moving truck, his transition from one action to another is seamless. Band of Thieves is a standard platform game with aspects of stealth. However, players won’t be relying stealth like they would in Rainbow 6, but if the choose to play that way, Sly, Murray and Bentley all have attack moves that can be done by sneaking behind an opponent.

The game’s major downfall is it may be too easy for experienced players. In order to steal the various parts, Sly and the gang must pull off various heists set in different locales. Instead of being able to just go and doing the heist, Sly has a large area that he can explore to find various items needed to pull off the big heist. The large environments provide a necessary lengthening of the game otherwise experiences platformers would blow through in no time. Even with the various missions to accomplish before the big boss battle, there is little challenge. It also helps that many of the enemies they face pack little punch. Sly can get hit by a Mack truck and still walk away without a limp.

The ease also lessons the replay value since there is really no unlockables other than collecting coins to purchases more moves. Even that is unnecessary since enemies can be taken out rather easily.
At the end of each mission, Sly and the gang are ready to go after the big boss and steal back the clockwork parts. The ending mission is a great departure from the rather standard hunter-gatherer missions played up to that point. The heists usually happen at some grandiose location and require some pretty outrageous actions to complete. At one point, Sly distracts an entire ball room by showing off his dance steps while Murray and Bentley make off with the goods. Needless to say, Raccoons should stick to garbage cans and stay off the dance floor.

Script work for the game is entertaining and well done. The voices for each of the characters are exemplifying their personalities perfectly from the nerdiness of Bentley to the suave debonair raccoon about town. Even the villains are given the typical Dr. Evil accents to give them that little extra funny edge. The games musical score complements its cartoonish nature and will pick up and slow down depending on the action. It can get monotonous at times especially if you are searching a particular area for a long time or get stuck and just keep going rooftop to rooftop.

Sly 2 is a solid platforming adventure game that will keep the kids entertained and mom and dad won’t have to worry about little Tommy getting a copy of The Guy Game. Older players will still have fun with Sly’s outrageous dialog and funny plot, but may find the cartoonish look a little too much. The only downfall is it is simply too easy to satisfy the thirst of heavy gamers. If you are interested in depth and difficulty, stick to Tom Clancy. If you are looking for a fun filled adventure with interesting characters, give Band of Thieves a try. It will take a good part of a weekend, but the end is worth the 18 hours you’ll put into it.

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