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Sly 2: Band of Thieves Review - PS2

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Last year a game by the name of Sly Racoon slipped between Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank's battle for the title of best platformer, bringing with it unique stealth-oriented gameplay, cel-shaded graphics and the intent to feel like a cartoon. It quickly became a well-recognised game, yet was different enough to avoid joining Jak and Ratchet in the ring. The second in the series - titled Sly 2: Band of Thieves - has just been released. Developer Sucker Punch took a risk in revamping the series' gameplay style, but fortunately they've pulled all the right moves - Sly 2: Band of Thieves is one of the year's best platformers.

At the end of Sly Racoon, the evil Clockwerk machine - a giant, mechanised, bird-like creature - was destroyed once and for all. Sly looked forward to a nice break and a return to the lighter side of thieving in the walking and talking animal-populated alternate Earth in which he lives. Unfortunately, though, a number of the Klaww gang's top members have sought out the various pieces of Clockwerk's body, intending to use them for moneymaking schemes. Sly becomes aware of this, rounds up his small yet devastating band of thieves and sets out to retrieve the pieces of Clockwerk in order to prevent it from reforming and wreaking havoc once again.

Gameplay

Sly 2: Band of Thieves features three playable characters, each belonging to and forming in its entirety Sly's band of thieves. All three are controlled very similarly, being able to walk, run, jump, swipe at their enemies with their weapon and use their special attacks and moves. Sly is an agile and quick-witted racoon and, being able to tiptoe across and climb ropes, vines and the like, he's the one sent in for theft jobs. Bentley is a smart turtle who doesn't like to get himself into trouble; rather, he forms the brains behind all of the band's jobs, gathering intelligence and looking over maps of areas to be infiltrated. Murray is a fairly stupid hippopotamus who at first looks useless - that is, until you put his strength to the test. Being able to lift and throw almost any item in the field and take down enemies faster than Sly and Bentley, Murray is often used for operations requiring force.

The game is broken up into eight episodes - a reference to the game's successful intention to feel like a cartoon - or worlds. Each world is located somewhere on Earth, focuses upon the retrieval of one or two of the Clockwerk pieces and is home to one of the top members of the Klaww gang, cleverly relating to them. For example, one of my favourite members is Raj. A tiger dressed in pieces of clothing such as a turban, Raj tends to prowl around deep in the moist jungles of India, ensuring that his illegal spice operation runs smoothly. It's the way that the bosses tie in with their location ... (continued next page)