Sly Cooper


Review by Justin Johnson

Sony/Sucker Punch


Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 10

Overall: 9

Fun. If I could only use one word to describe Sly Cooper, it would definitely be fun. As one of an onslaught of platformer titles as of late, Sly Cooper stands out not only because of it’s excellent cel-shaded graphics, but also it’s excellent character design, variety, pacing and story. While most games are content to leave you with some half-ass quest or motive, Sly Cooper’s storyline is well-scripted and far surpasses most modern cartoons. As a cane-wielding orphaned raccoon from a long line of thieves, you are on a quest to retrieve your family’s prized collection of thieving techniques, the Thievius Raccoonus, from the “Fiendish Five,” who stole the book when Sly was just a wee raccoon. With the aid of two sidekicks, the genius Bentley (a turtle) and the rather goofy (in a good way) Murray (a hippopotamus), you travel to five distinctive locales to take on each member of the Fiendish Five and retrieve your family heirloom.

Like Capcom’s Maximo before it, each of these five worlds consists of a hub level, which you are free to explore, and within these hubs, portals to each world’s levels. In most levels you will find bottles containing clues, find the specified amount and Bentley will crack a code you can use on that stage’s safe, earning you a new page from the Thievius Raccoonus, which usually means a new move! Learning new moves in most levels helps to keep things fresh and makes you feel like you’re constantly accomplishing your goal. Fun and unique mini-games are scattered throughout each of the five worlds, giving you a break from the standard hop ‘n’ bop fare by racing, collecting treasure chests in a submarine, and manning (or would it be “raccooning”?) a gun turret, just to name a few. The boss battles are fun and challenging, especially Ms. Ruby’s ‘voodoo-simon-says’ boss battle, in which Ms. Ruby throws voodoo attacks (a specific button), and where you’ve got to respond by tapping the corresponding button to the rhythm (think Parappa), very creative stuff for a platformer. Most of the bosses follow the old-school boss pattern, meaning you’ve got to find their weak point and exploit it, all the while dodging their attacks.

No amount of screenshots can do this game justice until you actually see it in motion, for it is a sight to behold. Sly Cooper is as close as I’ve seen any game come to presenting itself as a playable cartoon, and Sly himself is just so well-animated that even controlling him and doing elaborate maneuvers (such as the slow-motion double jump) is as fun to watch as it is to control. Slowdown can bog things down at times, and cause the graphics to display some of the trademark ps2 “jaggies” that plagued many of the systems first-generation games. Instances of this aren’t too often, but often enough for it to be a minor annoyance. Sucker Punch also nailed the cutscenes between world by creating a truly unique art style that resembles a comic book to move the storyline along. The characters in Sly are interesting, and could probably even support their own cartoon or merchandising (hint, hint Sony). The characters are diverse, yet work together well as a team (sort of like the A-Team, only not), and the bosses are each unique with their own themed world and set of baddies.

The music changes from world to world, but it always manages to perfectly match the surrounding environment, such as the spooky theme present in Ms. Ruby’s voodoo-themed world. One nice touch is how the music almost mutes itself when you are sneaking, giving you a feeling of concentration while Sly is maneuvering his way along a ledge or sneaking up on a baddie. The voice acting is very cartoon-esque, giving each character a distinctive voice that’s very fitting of their personality. Sly’s voice acting is particularly well done, and comes across just as I imagine Sucker Punch envisioned him, smooth and confident, not unlike James Bond or Solid Snake.

Everything in Sly Cooper comes together to create a very enjoyable platforming experience, it’s just a blast to play. Sony has a great franchise character and potential mascot here, and here’s hoping they pursue it (the ending hinted at a sequel, please deliver!). Director’s commentary and some behind the scenes footage are available if you’re hardcore enough to complete each level within the “Master Thief Sprint” time (which is WAY harder than it sounds). Were it not for the spots of slowdown, I would probably give this classic a perfect score, but as it is I’m giving it a very respectable 9.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 09:01 PM