Sly 2: Band of Thieves for the PS2 review

Here we are with the next game, counting down to the 300th review! Last week, I reviewed the first game in the Sly Cooper franchise. While it might not have held up as well as I thought it would, after finally getting to play it almost 10 years after its release, I still really enjoyed the memorable characters and solid platforming experience, even though I had to deal with the tedious difficulty and rather short length. I gave the first game a 6 out of 10 because it was still a good game, but its poorly aged parts stick out like a sore thumb. So then, what do I think of the second game, Sly 2: Band of Thieves for the PlayStation 2? I mean, all I read is that before the fourth game came out this year, the second game was the best game in the franchise, and pretty much every critic’s favorite game out of the Sly Cooper franchise. Well, I think differently about Sly 2. While I am honestly not going to rate this game as highly as every critic did a few years back, it is definitely better than the first game. It has a lot of good game design changes, but it is also held back by a lot of game design tedium. Why do I say such a thing? Read on to find out!

The story sees the return of our three heroes, Sly, Bentley, and Murray, two years after the first game. They are in Cairo to steal the parts that made the giant robot owl villain, Clockwerk, from the last game, and destroy them so they don’t have to deal with Clockwerk ever again. Unfortunately, as they reach the location in a Cairo museum where the parts to Clockwerk are supposed to be, they see that they are not there. They are then ambushed by the foxy officer Carmelita, now voiced by Alesia Glidewell, and her new partner Neyla, also voiced by Alésia Glidewell. After suggesting that a new threat of thieves known as the Klaww Gang have stolen the parts, Sly escapes the museum with Bentley and Murray, and set off to retrieve the stolen Clockwerk parts from the individual Klaww Gang members, destroying them once and for all. In a way, this reminds me of the story of Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest story, where Simon Belmont needs to retrieve several stolen body parts of Dracula. Sly 2’s story is once again enjoyable, with Murray and Bentley having larger roles in the overall story. The villains, while some of them are not as memorable as the villains from the first game, are still fun and creative. In my opinion, this is one of the Sly Cooper franchise’s strongest points.

The gameplay in Sly 2 has evolved from the last game. Levels are much bigger, you get more missions, and there are more playable characters. Sly still has his stealthy platforming, and is basically the character you will be using the most throughout the game. Not a whole lot has changed from his last outing on the PS2, but Bentley and Murray are now playable characters. Murray and Bentley cannot do a majority of Sly’s platforming moves, so getting around with them is a little trickier than with Sly, but luckily, each character has their own abilities. Murray can beat down on the enemies, and all of his special moves revolve around beating the enemies into putty. Bentley, of course, doesn’t hit as hard as Murray, but he does have a cross bow that shoots sleep arrows that can knock enemies out and can also drop bombs. Each character can obtain new moves or gadgets by snatching and collecting coins and other treasures found within each level. You also have a health bar now and can take more hits, but this also goes for the enemies, where one hit won’t kill them. There is a lot of variety this time within the missions. A lot of the mini-games Bentley encounters throughout his missions are designed like retro arcade games, a theme that wouldn’t be taken to its full potential until the fourth game of the franchise. Bentley and Murray even get their own boss fights, which is cool. The game is a bit longer than the first game, and the only real replay value it has are the single huge safes that are in each level.

Graphically, Sly 2 looks just as good as the first game. It is very colorful, and for the most part, every level is varied enough to not be repetitious, even if some of the missions require some of the same tactics as other missions, like stealing keys. The music is more atmospheric than epic. This is due to the work of Peter McConnell. He is a composer well known for his work on a lot of the late great LucasArts games, along with other games like Brutal Legend, Costume Quest, Kinectimals, and Psychonaughts. He also composed for games, like the third and fourth game in the Sly Cooper franchise and The Bard’s Tale. Voice acting once again is well done. Sly, Bentley, and Murray’s voice actors return from the last game, and do a good job with their characters, especially Murray and Bentley. David Scully, Gloria Manon, Ross Douglas, and Sam A. Mowry do a great job bringing the villains to life, with David Scully doing two out of the 5 villains’ voices.

So, this game improves on a lot of things, right? What could possibly be wrong with it? Well, I am not going to lie, I think this game is a bit more flawed than many people want to say it is. Or, maybe I’m just about to be harsh. I think a lot of the missions in each level are a bit too tedious for the average gamer. For every good mission, there are one or two missions that just make me rage at my controller. Since we are on the topic of levels, they last way too long. They overstay their welcome, and the more I played the game, the more I wished that the levels were a bit more linear and not so open-ended. Even with Murray and Bentley as playable characters, the levels are designed more for Sly, and it just makes it a pain to finish a mission with either character, and then have to hike it back to the safe house. During some of the missions, the controls could have been better, such as the mission when Murray drives a tank. It could have been much much better. I feel like they made the game longer with padding, and in my eyes, that is no good. I want to enjoy and remember good things about the levels, but instead, I keep remembering more the tedious moments than the good parts. I also feel like the graphics are too dark on the PS2 version. I sometimes missed a platform or walked off an edge when I didn’t mean to. I feel like the special stealth platforming could have been programmed better, since I can count many times where I missed a hook or something I could latch onto because I wasn’t in the same hit box area to make contact with it, even though I was.

So, after all the complaints I had, you should still check it out. Maybe rent it before seeking out a copy or downloading it off the PSN store. It is better than the first game, but in my opinion, it has a bit too much stuff that drags the game down to say it is 100% better than the first game. It is better, but not by much. You can either get it for the PS2 or get it as the Sly Cooper Trilogy for the PS3, where all of the games are in HD. Maybe the next game will be better, right? Right? I mean, it is the third game? Well, check in next week to find out.

This game gets a 6 out of 10.