There may not be any honor amongst thieves, but whoever came up with that idea wasn’t thinking about devious raccoons with a knack for thievery. When Sony released Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus in 2002, they not only introduced a new anti-hero to the platforming genre; they actively created a cult following that clamored for a sequel every chance they got. Well, raccoon lovers, your prayers have been answered as the cunning rogue has returned two years later to PS2s everywhere. Check those shadows behind you and watch your wallets, because here comes Sly 2: Band of Thieves.|
Band of Thieves takes place a few years after Sly’s adventure to retrieve his family heirloom, the Thievius Raccoonus from Clockwerk and his band of henchmen. In literally dismantling Clockwerk and his gang, Sly managed to claim revenge on the villains who murdered his parents and prove that he was able to take on the family business of thievery. Well, on a job in Cairo, Sly discovers a group known as the Klaww Gang has stolen the pieces of his nemesis from a museum. Hoping to prevent the resurrection of the metallic menace, Sly sets out to stop the Klaww gang and steal the pieces back with the help of his childhood friends Bentley and Murray.
Bentley and Murray will play a much larger role in Band of Thieves than they did in the first game. In fact, gameplay is pretty evenly divided between the three friends, requiring gamers to actively switch between characters to accomplish tasks the others couldn’t. Bentley, the nervous tech expert who’s not thrilled with fieldwork, is the group’s demolition expert. He’ll use some of his bombs to detonate columns or other structural items while putting enemies to sleep with tranquilizer darts. Murray, on the other hand, is the brawler of the three, performing plenty of belly flops and running punches to take out thugs. Thanks to his considerable strength, players can pick up and throw objects at alarm boxes or ice blocks at fires to clear obstacles.
Sly comes back with just as many tricks in his bag as before. He’ll still pick pockets, scamper along walls and use his cane to get around areas. Now, however, Sly won’t rely upon cracking safes for new skills; instead, he’ll be able to purchase new abilities for himself and his friends by logging onto Thiefnet and paying for them with coins that he’s collected along the way. He can also sell items that he’s stolen, such as paintings, rings and other valuable pieces for money. One of the things that players will notice is that you’re not restricted to the plot. Thanks to GTA’s influence on practically every game that’s coming out right now, Sly and his friends can abandon the plot explore the cities around them, robbing guards and opponents alike.
Sporting a slick cel-shaded look coupled with an episodic feel, Band of Thieves is smoothly animated. What’s more, many of the cutscenes have a Ren and Stimpy-like feel to them, which gives the impression that you’re playing a cartoon. The voice acting is extremely solid, and the comedic timing between Sly, Murray and Bentley is impeccable. Sly and his band of thieves will be stealing their way onto shelves next month, so check back soon for a full review!
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