Sly 2: Band of Thieves PlayStation 2
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sucker Punch Productions
Release Date: Out Now
Price : £39.99
It's a fair bet that if gamers were asked to pick their favourite game of 2003 many would not pick Sly Raccoon but for me it was certainly one of the best games to appear on the PlayStation 2. Essentially Sly Raccoon was a platform game in which you played Sly Raccoon, a thief who had to retrieve the Thievius Raccoonus (that had been stolen from Sly's family just as he was approaching the age when he would inherit it) a family heirloom that recorded all of the family's thieving exploits as well as their techniques. The game offered a subtle mix of Crash Bandicoot and Metal Gear Solid game play and it was a joy to play. Now over a year and a half later Sly returns in Sly 2: Band of Thieves.
The game begins with Sly trying to retrieve some parts of the robotic Clockwerk, Sly's arch-enemy. Sly has discovered that parts of Clockwerk have gone missing and Sly is determined to make sure that Clockwerk is never again assembled. To begin with Sly tries to take some of the parts but when he arrives at the location of them he finds that they are missing and waiting for him is Inspector Fox and Constable Neyla. The Inspector accuses Sly of stealing the parts but the Constable is convinced that the theft was the work of the Klaww Gang. The Inspector has none of it however and chases Sly out of the building. He only just manages to reach the getaway van. It's a good start to the game and right from the off you're in the thick of the action.
One of the main differences between Sly 2 and Sly Raccoon is that you'll see more of Sly's friends, Murray and Bentley. In fact there are parts of the game where you'll play as these characters and it actually makes things more interesting. Murray (the Hippo) is the strong member of your team (as well as the driver) and his objectives require him to use this great strength. Bentley (the Turtle) is the brains of the operation and is a genius with electronic devices and coming up with quick solutions to problems. Bentley's objectives sometimes require him to use his technical expertise although he also gets to bomb a few targets and use his sleep darts too. Your main objective in the game is to obtain these Clockwerk parts. Each episode is not simply a case of stealing a part back though and there are certain things that need to be done before you can actually attempt to complete your task. The game has the same responsive controls of the first game which makes performing all the platforming moves easy. There are eight episodes altogether and the game isn't that long to be honest but it's very enjoyable and a great sequel to Sly Raccoon.
Sly Raccoon had very attractive cel-shaded style graphics and exactly the same style has been maintained for Sly 2. The presentation and animation of the characters is impressive and the game as a whole is a polished product. The levels for the various episodes in the game are very large and have all been thoughtfully designed and they are a joy to play. The frame rate remains smooth throughout despite the size of the levels which is great to see. Very few games on the PlayStation 2 have the stylish presentation quality of Sly 2: Band of Thieves and it has to be considered one of the better looking games on the console.
The introductory cutscenes in Sly 2 and messages that help explain your missions are subtitled (the subtitles are colour coded). However this is tempered by the fact that the other cutscenes that drive the story along are not subtitled, which means you won't be able to follow the game's story and this is disappointing. Tutorial messages are also shown in text and control hints are displayed across the top of the screen. Comments that are made to Sly throughout the game are not subtitled and this also serves to take the shine off what is otherwise an impressive game. These comments can actually offer some hints on what to do and it's a shame that deaf gamers will miss out on these. Some instructions from Bentley are not shown in text early on in the game stating that you have to collect clues and when you come across the first one of these Bentley will explain what they are and that they can be collected but this is not shown in text. From the pause menu you can access a Job Help screen that will give you your mission objectives. Sly will often have to watch his back for enemies and the health meter (in the top left of the screen) will signify if you are in danger or have been spotted, which is useful. Overall then it's a bit of a mix in terms of it's support for deaf gamers and it's a shame that in some areas it's deaf gamer friendly and in others it's not.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves is a great sequel to Sly Raccoon. Whilst it would have been great if the game had been longer, there is little to complain about in terms of quality. However the main problem with the game is that it's not completely deaf gamer friendly which is a big disappointment. There are plenty of verbal hints throughout the game which deaf gamers will miss out on and this makes the game more challenging than it should be. The games various episodes are impressive though and it adds more variety to the game being able to play as Murray and Bentley as well as Sly. If you enjoyed the first game you'll also enjoy Sly 2: Band of Thieves but here's hoping that if there's a third title in the series, it's a lot more deaf gamer friendly.
Game Rating: 8.2/10
Sly 2: Band of Thieves is a great sequel to Sly Raccoon but it could have been more deaf gamer friendly.
There are numerous omissions for deaf gamers but it's still possible to enjoy the game. It's a shame that you miss out on the story though.