Product Type: other PS2 games
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"EVER WONDERED WHAT THE LIFE OF A MASTER THIEF IS LIKE?"
Sly Racoon (PS2)
Member Name: ps2update
Sly Racoon (PS2)
Date: 22/03/03, updated on 22/03/03 (380 review reads)
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In the years since the first Playstation was released up until the grand Playstation 2 we have now we have seen possibly the largest assortment of games of any other console in such a short period of time. Of course quantity means nothing without quality and variety and Sony has come through masterfully on both accounts. With the continuation of the much loved Final Fantasy series after the falling out between Nintendo and Squaresoft and the pick up of Metal Gear from Nintendo Sony demonstrated they could successfully master already popular series but they also made their own impacts as well. From horror hits like Silent Hill and Parasite Eve to plain vanilla fun for all ages games with the introduction of Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot they've more than proven they can and will continue to produce the massive onslaught of games that will keep them going strong.
Since massive companies like Squaresoft are in constant demand Sony has drawn in many newborn companies as well to help fulfill the gargantuous demand for games. By doing so this not only helps keep Sony on top of the sales list it also gives these new companies a chance to show the general public how creative they can be and perhaps become a major company in the process. On such example is Sucker Punch, creators of Sly Raccoon and the Thievius Raccoonus. With colorful cel shaded graphics, nice sound and the ingenious twist that the player must steal from other thieves in order to become the ultimate master thief himself this game puts this company off to a very promising start.
The graphics in this game gives to a somewhat mixed review. During the game itself the game boasts beautiful graphics. With a unique blend of cel shading and three dimensional graphics it has a cartoon quality while at the same time looking very realistic, something to the effect of Dragonball Z: Budokai for the PS2 or The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for the GCN. The motions are fluid a
nd smooth as Sly stealthily sneaks around columns, rolls and jumps to dodge motion sensors and lasers and sneaks past patrolling foes. The lighting effects are excellent as well which is a good thing for a game that revolves around a thief. Sly will appear shaded in dark areas of a room, appear partially exposed near light or jump right into the light and be full view. Even the type of light has various effects. Light from a flash light will play around the room as the villain holding it moves about whereas torches will cast flickering light across the room and of course Sly Raccoon.
The only part lacking is the cutscenes. The cutscenes between adventures are short cartoon clips which have a jerky look about them, like some of the earlier children's PC games such as the Freddi Fish and Putt-Putt series. The characters don't really move during theses scenes and if they do it's in quick jerky motions. The other thing is they don't move their mouths during these scenes even though there are voices during the scenes. This makes it hard to determine if Sly is actually talking, thinking out loud or simply narrating a flashback. Whether this was done intentionally to give a more comical, animated feel to the scenes is unsure but it takes a little from what could have been a very good example of cel shading done right. Since the cutscenes are not the bread and butter of this game however this was an exceptional job by Sucker Punch.
Sound is a very important trait in a game such as Sly Raccoon, where the main character is a thief. The music must be lively to keep the player on their toes and the sound effects must be top notch to alert the player of nearby enemies or other threats and this games follows through nicely in this area. The music is soft yet lighthearted which perfectly complements the stealthy mood of the game while at the same time bringing out the toonish qualities that the cel shading portrays.
Couple that with a whole arsenal of zany sound effects and great voice actors and its easy to see how this game scores high in this department.
With a game of such immense variety the music must be equally diverse and this game has just that. For the most part the scenarios are set around being a master thief so the music is comprised of stealth type music with a little toon quality mixed in, giving it a sort of mock James Bond/Mission Impossible feel. During battles an upbeat music kicks in which although good, aside from boss fights is short lived since most enemies can be destroyed in one hit. Lastly for the goofy minigames and comical scenarios there's a nice collection of music for the occasions.
The sound effects are good but its the voices that really stand out in Sly Raccoon. There's almost constant conversation between Sly and his comrades throughout each mission and the voice quality is superb. Even the villains will instruct their teammates via an intercom system as Sly ventures through their lairs, even warning them to be on the lookout for him! The sound effects however tend to sound almost exactly like those used in Crash Bandicoot. This isn't exactly a bad thing as the sound effects do fit this game, it just takes a little away from a games originality when its obvious the sound effects have been borrowed from another game. Again though, a nice attempt for the most part.
The lifespan of Sly Raccoon is not bad for a straight forward adventure game. With five hideouts and seven areas per hideout to explore its about an average length and probably could be run through in a week or so but the extra sidequests are what will definitely lengthen the game. With a safe containing a page of the Thievius Raccoonus, a book passed down from generation to generation in Sly's family in each level that can only be unlocked by finding every bottle in that area expect to be searching for quite
some time. If that weren't enough there's an extra challenge for each level called the "Master Thief Run" which puts the player's thieving skills to the maximum limit.
This game is a collector's paradise. The goal of the game is to collect the Thievius Raccoonus, a legendary thief's manual passed down in Sly's family, and although the main pages are collected by defeating each boss character there are several other pages scattered throughout the world as well. One page per area in each hideout is locked in a vault which is hidden somewhere within the area, but simply finding it is not enough. In order to unlock the vault the vault code must be deciphered and the only way to do this is to collect the bottled clues scattered throughout the level. As the gamer progresses through the different hideouts the number of bottles required becomes higher and higher, making unlocking each vault that much more difficult. The reward however is a new move inscribed on each page found which enables the player to navigate Sly more successfully through the ever challenging levels through each hideout. Many of these moves become necessity, especially for those who dare to take on the "Master Thief Run."
The "Master Thief Run" is for those who are out to show what they're made of. Basically each area starts with a timer set at various times for various areas and once the timer is started the entire area must be completed within that time limit. This is an insanely difficult challenge though that cannot be completed without the moves from the hidden pages mentioned above. Again however this challenge is much the same as the timer mode on the Crash Bandicoot series so it is not really all that original. Still in yet it is a fun challenge for those who like to test their skills and it must be done in order to unlock everything the game has to offer so it's recommended to give it a shot. It could've stood t
o be a bit longer considering how long other games like it are such as Spyro and Crash Bandicoot but its not bad at all.
The gameplay of Sly Raccoon would be perfect if it weren't for a few flaws. With no hangups in moves, beautiful ingame graphics and fluid like movements it's obvious a great deal of work went into this game. The game itself is hard enough but the extra challenges just make it that much harder. It's one of those games that once started, no matter how frustrated one may get at it, they'll find themselves coming back later for that famed "one more try" at getting that last page or perfect run.
The controls are easy to learn and execute and shouldn't prove a problem for new or veteran gamers. The game is quick to respond to any commands given to allow for very stealthy sneaking. Another good thing is once more than one move is learned instead of assigning each move to a different button its simply a matter of using L2 and R2 to toggle to the desired move which will be assigned to the triangle button. Since generally there's not much need to toggle often its really more a matter of which move is preferred by the gamer at the moment.
The only major flaw gameplay wise is in the controls, more specifically the camera. The camera does not always follow Sly so it must be constantly adjusted to view to either side of him, which wouldn't be bad if it weren't for the way the control for the camera is set up. The right analog stick controls the camera. This is not a problem when simply viewing the surroundings but it makes it nearly impossible to turn the camera and do anything involving the buttons at the same time. This means its important to know where every enemy is and adjust the camera accordingly before running into battle with them. It also has a nasty habit of getting stuck one way in a tunnel area but this can be easily fixed by simply turning it ar
ound from first person view.
As far as storylines go this one is actually pretty interesting for one given after the completion of the very first mission. The main character, Sly Raccoon comes from a long line of master criminals who only steal from master villains in order to showcase their prowess. All of their master thieving secrets were recorded in the Thievius Raccoonus, a book passed down to family only for if these secrets should fall into the wrong hands it could spell doom for all. One fateful day however five villains appeared at their home, defeated Sly's father and stole the Thievius Raccoonus. Soon forming the "Fiendish Five" these masterminds began wreaking havoc over the world. After training for years in an orphanage and gaining two invaluable friends in the process, he is now ready to steal the Thievius Raccoonus back and avenge his father's defeat.
Difficulty may be a factor for some in this game as it is very easy to be killed in this game. To make things fair they've made it where although the enemies can be killed in one shot, so can Sly Raccoon. Sly also cannot swim and therefore will drown if he falls in deep water and of course if he falls from a high ledge the he will also lose a life. With enough vault missions completed the water and cliff problems will be a thing of the past once the "Swim Invincibility" and "Cliff Invincibility" moves are discovered, but the way to increase health is a little trickier and not permanent. The only way to increase health is once again, Crash Bandicoot style but instead of masks Sly must find lucky horseshoes to carry with him or aquire one by collecting one hundred coins. Two can be carried at one time, allowing Sly to absorb three direct blows before finally giving out and losing a life.
Then of course there are the extras. As mentioned earlier the vault missions and the master thief run missions provide extra entertainment for those wh
o ran through the game first or just want to complete the game 100%. Those that do complete the game fully are rewarded by two extras, one extra movie clip and the other being a section of outtakes and the commercial for the game. This doesn't seem like much but any reward is better than just simple bragging rights. Aside from this and the camera problem this game was done really well.
Although the game is the first of what will hopefully be a series, it feels so strongly fashioned after Crash Bandicoot that it is hard to call it an original idea in itself. It's true that there are many of the same genre of games out there and points should not be taken away for that, but the fact that the game uses the same sound effects, the same health meter and offers the same challenges in the same fashion as the Crash Bandicoot series does seem to be more than just a mere coincidence. It does have its original points though, such as being one of the few games where the object is to not be seen by the enemy at all, its own unique storyline and style that set each game apart from the others so all is not lost here. In hopeful sequels perhaps these problems will be fixed so the game can really shine through as an original.
Basically any Crash Bandicoot fan will really enjoy this game but don't let that alone discourage a rental at least. Despite the many similarities it also has just as many differences that makes this game a great game. So please do not let my many references to the bandicoot leave the impression that this is another game where the player jumps around on boxes collecting fruit for it is not like that at all!
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