Sly 2: Band Of Thieves
One of the “things” I despise most are pickpockets because they steal from people on the most cowardly way. In addition, most of us don’t even realise that they have been robbed and consider the possibility that they lost their precious watch passed down from generation to generation. Therefore it is not so much of material value but more a piece of themselves that got lost. If they pluck the wallet out of your pants’ pocket you do not only lose some cash but also all the important documents like a driver license, passport, credit card or a season ticket. Most of these things are useless to them, just like the old watch, but yet they don’t even have the courtesy of giving it back to the rightful owner somehow. It will cost the victim lots of time, money, effort and razzmatazz to set things right again, not to mention the moron you feel like if somebody went in you pocket without you even noticing it.
Yet, in Sly 2: Band Of Thieves it is the coolest thing to do: sneaking up on someone and grabbing their coins out of their pocket. That, however, only plays a minor role in the whole concept of this platformer. The main story that drives this game is gathering all parts of the Clockwerk, the evil being who stole the Thievius Raccoonus in the previous game. The parts are spread all over the world and are in the hands of most fearsome criminals. Sly and his friends Murray and Bentley travel to every corner of the world in their search for the parts but they are not easy to retrieve. Therefore, they always set up a headquarter from which they can operate and plan how to get the stolen goods back.
Now, it doesn’t come down to running, jumping, sliding, grinding and defeating a boss from which you take the mechanical piece of machinery back. Bentley is the smartest of the pack and plans the operation carefully. That means taking pictures, infiltrating and making sure you do stuff that allow you to do other stuff and so on. Tasks will vary very much: dancing (a minigame) to distract someone, flying a helicopter to cover your partner’s return to safety or opening a door from inside out so you colleague’s can enter the building too. Those seem fairly straight forward but the fantasy from the creators is undeniably huge and so is their sense of humour. One time, I had to collect plants which grow only in the top of high in trees. Those had to be fed to an elephant which makes a satellite go round. If he ate them, he wouldn’t be able to control himself, break out and thereby completely destroying the satellite used by the villain to overhear you communications. If that isn’t original, I don’t know what is anymore.
I like to think that I have quite a lot of experience when it comes down to plaformers but it did take me some time to finish that assignment and that goes for every chore. So, they really made the game longer, a whole lot longer which you’ll notice immediately. After playing the first few hours you might have completed ten percent (you can see how much you’ve played each time you save) but you won’t finish the second ten any faster. Neither will it get boring because you move to a completely different environment each time you successfully heisted a Clockwerk part. Besides memorising that location, missions get more complex and longer and new possibilities become available.
With the money you steal and earn by selling art you “find” along the way, you can buy new things to upgrade each character’s skills. That means that you won’t use many buttons early on but once you bought a new sort of bomb for the nerdy turtle you can assign it to L1, L2 or R2 and use it to help you get through the later levels which are far better guarded. Bentley isn’t strong so he has to be smart and so will you when you play with him. Murray, however, is ten times as strong so in stead of doing things carefully, you can walk right through and knock opponents down. Sly is more a kind of smooth guy, he can climb up trees, lianas and cables, is able to balance on pointy rooftops, pickpocket, fight of smaller opponents and bigger ones if he uses the right technique. So, not only the missions and story make everything into a diverse and gripping game, the characters you are forced to complete a mission with completely behave differently too so there is always something to adapt to and discover.
It has taken a while, but it seems to me that cell-shaded games are booming as they are plenty. Plenty of them suck too, but Sly 2 is definitely a topper on all surfaces except for one particular part of the sound: the Dutch dubbing. Oh boy, does that sound ridiculously ridiculous. For crying out loud, just subtitle the English version. Unfortunately, they didn’t but as those voices articulate well, pronounce every word with extreme care, talk rather slowly and sound crystal clear, I could easily play with everything set in English.
I could write five more pages about every need and magnificently integrated aspect but I find that rather useless. The game will last very long for a platformer, the camera works fine, graphics are awesome, sound is terrific, the story is very original and very useful, the gameplay is easy to learn but never becomes the key to bore because it is quite innovative and differs a lot from the one character to another. As said, the game will last a lot longer but you can quite easily play half an hour at a time and pick it up again a weekend later which makes it an ideal game for people with a limited amount of free time like myself. It is fair to say that this is a very decent platform game accessible for every gamer and without technical flaws or any other aspect that isn’t perfect (except for the lousy Dutch dub!).