Final Thoughts on Sly 2: Band of Thieves

I few weeks ago I gave my thoughts on Sly Cooper and the Thievious Raccoonus the first game in the Sly Cooper series of games. Since I played the first game as part of the Sly Collection that was released for the PlayStation 3 and includes the first three games of this series, I will now get to the sequel, Sly 2: Band of Thieves. Did it improve upon the first game or fail to reach the same level?

Sly 2 Band of ThievesStory

The story begins with the Cooper Gang breaking into a museum in Cairo to steal the parts of Clockwerk, the main villain from the first game. The trio wants to find and destroy the parts before they’re used again for evil. The problem is they’re too late as they are already stolen by a group known as the Klaww Gang. This sets up Sly, Bentley, and Murray up for a globe trotting adventure to recover the Clockwerk parts.

Gameplay

While much from the first game is retained, there are a number of improvements and changes that have been implemented for the sequel. One of the most significant of these is that you are now able to play as Sly, Bentley and Murray who all have slightly different play styles.

Sly’s style remains very similar to the first game and while there are some differences that I’ll get to later, in terms of basics though he’s largely the same. Bentley is armed with a sleep-dart gun and mines that he can use in an effective combo, he is also able to hack computers, which initiates a hacking mini-game. Murray simply uses his brute strength to pick up items and enemies and can also go toe to toe with enemies in combat.

Another significant change is the inclusion of a health bar in the game as opposed to the one hit death (two if you had a lucky horseshoe) from the first game. Associated with this is the removal of a lives system. You can just restart a mission if you run out of life. You also have an energy bar that you use to do any of the special moves or abilities that you obtain during the game.

This leads us to another major change in the game how abilities are obtained. In the first game you unlocked them by finding clue bottles scattered around a level. You can still find certain special abilities with this method in this game, but the majority of the abilities will be obtained by purchasing upgrades through ThiefNet at your safe house where you begin the level. This is the new use for coins, instead of gaining extra lives you buy upgrades for your characters.

The upgrades are a bit different than the ones from previous games. Sly gains abilities that add properties to his cane, or allow him to drop a smoke bomb to escape enemies. Bentley mainly adds upgrades to his bombs, but also has abilities to increase his speed or allow him to have a jet pack. Murray gains abilities that increase his strength and allows him to perform powerful new moves. So you get a variety of moves and abilities that are in tune with their own unique way of play.

There are a few other additions like levels being larger and more coherent as opposed to being broken up in the first game. You also gain the ability to pickpocket with Sly which comes in handy and is used either to steal necessary items off enemies or just to gain some extra coins. So while I’d say there is quite a bit of stuff carried over from the first game, there is also a good number of additions that update mechanics and add some variety to the play.

Themes

Like the first game friendship and teamwork is a major theme of the game. In fact I’d say it is ramped up in this installment because you’re now able to play as all three members of the Cooper Gang. This allows for more flexibility in seeing how important everyone is to each other when things go south. It feels like they actually work more as a team, even if Sly is the leader of sorts.

There is also the theme of protection from evil that the first game didn’t have. In the first game the main drive was revenge against the villains who killed Sly’s parents and stole the Thievious Raccoonus. In this game Sly, Bentley, and Murray are focused on preventing Clockwerk the villain from the previous game to be rebuilt and set loose on the world again.

Positives

  • More Sly – This game has more Sly Cooper. I really enjoyed the first game quite a bit so I also enjoyed getting to play as Sly Cooper and his friends once again.
  • It’s So Smooth – In terms of gameplay a lot of the more disjointed components of the first game have really been ironed out and makes the whole experience smoother. Locations are much more coherent. The inclusion of a health bar makes for a more enjoyable experience than just having one hit kills (even if I did kind of enjoy that from the first game).
  • Around the World – Levels are not only smoother, but they are also fun and take place all over the world. Over the course of the game you wind up in Paris, India, Prague, Canada, and an airborne blimp.
  • Kind of Like Candy – Sly 2 is not a difficult game. Some people may dislike this and call it too easy or too short. To me games like this are kind of the video game equivalent to candy. They’re easy, mainly marketed to kids, but are enjoyable.

Mixed

  • Watch for Falling Raccoons – While overall the controls in these games are well done, I felt that Sly 2 just had a few more issues than the first game. I found myself having difficulties every once in awhile on things that shouldn’t have been too hard. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like the controls weren’t as sharp in this outing.
  • Intriguing Story, That Ultimately Falls a Bit Flat – The story for Sly 2 takes a fair number of twists and turns, and they’re enjoyable for a good portion of the game. However, the reveal of the final boss just fell flat. It felt like it lacked any proper motivation for that twist and just didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me anyhow.

Negatives

  • Does Interpol Do Background Checks? – Members of the Klaww Gang are part of Interpol. How in the world does this happen? I mean have we never heard of background checks or anything?

Overall Impressions

This was another enjoyable outing for Sly Cooper and his friends. In total I’d say that it is an improvement over the first game in many ways. The only two places where it didn’t seem quite as good as the first was in story (mainly the last quarter or so) and the tightness of controls. Neither of these problems are deal breakers and I found the game to be fun, even if it isn’t too hard and can be completely relatively quickly. So I would definitely recommend Sly’s second venture especially if picked up in the PlayStation 3 collection of Sly titles.

 

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