Review by Nightfall

Reviewed: 07/28/04

An easy, short romp that left me wanting a little more

Sly Cooper is a great stealth platformer that I would recommend for anyone who enjoys games of that genre. Aimed at the younger gaming crowd, however, Sly Cooper is too easy and too short. It also has some graphics problems. But despite that, the game is extremely well done with great production value, perfect controls, and nice gameplay variety. Let us explore, my fellow reader, the various aspects of the game.

Where the game excels the most is in gameplay, and that's the way it should be. The game is simply fun, with some great variety in the different types of play. You're not always sneaking around trying to hide from guards. There is some action too, like races, shooting sequences, rail slides, and the boss battles. Sly acquires several different Master Thief abilities during the course of the game, and these help to mix the gameplay up. I didn't find as much occasion to use these special abilities as I should have, however. While the gameplay is fun, it is definitely aimed at the younger crowd. This is evidenced by it's low difficulty level and frequent hand-holding. The player is often told exactly what he needs to do. Despite this, finding the main key which is the objective of every level is very satisfying, and is reminiscent of the joy I felt in Jak & Daxter when I found a Power Cell. You must also find one page of the Thievius Racoonus in every level in order to acquire Sly's Master Thief abilities. But that's not difficult at all. A slight frustration factor does rear it's ugly head in the final sections of the game, but isn't that true of most games?

I was surprised at how short the game is, but it does offer some replay value by opening up a unique challenge after you've finished the game. Completing this challenge for every level will win you some goodies. So you have to finish the game twice to unlock the cool stuff. I was completely baffled, however, by the goody the game offers when you first finish the game with all keys and all pages of the Thievius Racoonus. I'm actually going to mention it here, because it's so stupid. You get to watch the cinematic history of Sly's life again, which is shown at the beginning of the game. Only this time, it's narrated in Japanese! Wow! What a freakin' stupid, pointless, and unsatisfying idea! I don't know what the heck Sucker Punch was thinking. Maybe...Americans love the Japanese language really, really a lot? But anyway...

Sly shines in the control department. Simple and fluid, working Sly's gig is a piece of cake. His jump and double jump feel great and predictable. In other words, there's no guesswork. You feel as safe in the air as you do on the ground. Sly's super thief cane always hits what you want it to. I noticed very little problem with collision physics or hit detection, which means the game keeps cheap deaths to a minimum. I never had a problem reaching those platforms, ledges, and spires upon which Sly is so adept at perching. If anything, the game is a little too forgiving with the platforming control. If you've ever been frustrated to the point of madness by the platforming in games like Jak 2, you will find Sly refreshing. Like a cool mountain breeze blowing up your big blue billowy pants.

The game's graphics are, for the most part, pretty good, but there were some things that annoyed me. The game struggles with slowdown in large, outdoor areas, and the graphics have a habit of going fuzzy in these places.
Objects in the distance are greyed out and non-distinct, but things in Sly's immediate vicinity look great. The characters in the game are cell shaded, but the environments are rendered with normal graphics. It's an interesting combination that I've never seen before. Basically, the graphics are pretty good, but nothing astounding.

The game's voice overs are done very well, even if a couple of the characters are very annoying. The Voodoo Queen talks...very...slowly...and the Panda King sounds like they pulled the janitor in to do his voice. I could have sworn Carmelita was voiced by Ara Celi, who did Katarina in Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat, but no. Her name is Roxanne Ortega, and she has a nice, sexy accent that I haven't quite pinpointed. Sly's voice is indicative of his style: cool, collected, and to the point. To tell you the truth, I didn't really notice the music in the game much, except in one very cool boss battle that involves rhythm tapping. That is one of the neatest boss battles I've ever played in a game.

In the presentation department, I really like the animation stills that advance the story between levels. They are very stylized, with Sly narrating them. Each of the game's five major sections is presented as if it's an episode of a television series. It's cool and quirky, and kind of makes the game feel like it's an old tv show.

The story presents Sly as the good thief. He only steals from criminals, because stealing from regular folks is no challenge. He ends up being a superhero of sorts, foiling the bad guys and leading inspector Carmelita, who is always on his tail, right to them. Thus, you need have no moral qualms about playing as a thief. Ironically, the game is really more about platforming and sneaking around than actually stealing anything. The only thing Sly steals in this game is what was rightfully his to begin with.

To sum up, Sly is a fun but short romp that left me wanting a little more. It's not a bad game by any means, but it doesn't really compete with the likes of Ratchet and Clank, Jak & Daxter, and Beyond Good & Evil. It's a great game to sit down and play when you're not up for a serious challenge and you just want to relax and have fun. It could work as a rental due to it's short length. For the sequel, Band of Thieves, I hope for a longer, more challenging game without the slowdown and fuzzy graphics. And oh yeah, let's have some hot action between Sly and Carmelita.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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