"Born into a family of the worldís greatest thieves, Sly is given, on his eighth birthday, the Thievius Raccoonus, a family heirloom that is passed down from generation to generation containing all of their best-kept secrets and thieving techniques. Later that evening, a gang of ruthless villains broke into his harmonious home. As Sly watched, the intruders overpowered his father, as they stole the Thievius Raccoonus splitting it five ways and each taking a piece of this legacy with them. Ten years later, Sly is out to steal the Thievius Raccoonus back and reclaim what is rightfully his. He enlists the help of his gadget genius pal Bentley, and his big eager friend Murray, and the trio embark on a quest to restore honor to the familyís name." This is the plot behind Sony Computer Entertainmentís new action, adventure game for the PlayStation 2 called Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus.
The game begins as you (playing the part of Sly Cooper, the raccoon), use your thieving skills to steel your familyís case file from the local police with Inspector Carmelita Fox hot on your tail. As you begin each level, you can use your Binocucom (zoomable binoculars) to scan the mission area for any upcoming danger. In addition, your pal Bentley (the intelligent turtle) keeps you informed about your current mission and provides you with what you need to achieve your goals throughout each level. And your big friend Murray (the happy hippo) aids you in some of the missionís field work as well as driving the getaway van.
After youíve surveiled your surroundings, you will have to use both stealth and head-on attacks to get past your enemies. If enemies are carrying flashlights and you can get by them without stepping into the field of light, you can use stealth to maneuver around them. This isnít always easy though because most of the time the enemies are on the move. In these instances, youíll have to discern their pattern of movement and sneak around them. At times when they are completely blocking your most obvious path, youíll have to look for an alternative route, such as bounding over the chandeliers above their heads. Thereís even one level in which you can hide inside a barrel to remain undetected. But when enemies are facing you and totally blocking your path, itís time to take out your cane and do some damage. Initially, you are given a few basic attack moves, but as you progress through the game you can find single pages of the Thievius Raccoonus stored in vaults. To break into a vault, you need to collect clue bottles that are littered throughout each level. Collect enough clues, and you get the combination to the current levelís vault. Open the vault, collect the page, and you learn a new move. I should also mention that you can collect coins throughout each level. For every 100 coins collected, you gain another life, which you will definitely need in this game.
The fighting system in this game is a bit strange, but it actually works quite well. When you attack an enemy, it usually only takes one hit to defeat them. That might sound too easy, except for the fact that only one hit will do you in as well. And when going up against enemies that have projectile weapons like guns, it can be very challenging. This is especially true when you take into the fact that each time you die, you need to start at the last level marker that you past. And if you lose all your lives, you have to start the entire level all over again. This can get frustrating if youíre having a hard time figuring out the right moves to get through the level, but without this type of vulnerability system, the game would be way too easy. Even with these vulnerabilities, some of the levels are easy but most are not, and the boss battles are definitely challenging. Oh and one last thingÖ you have to avoid deep water at all costs. If you fall in the water, youíre gone. Thereís no swimming back to safety, unless of course, you have a lucky horseshoe. But Iíll let you find out about that little surprise when you play the game.
As you play Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, youíll notice the wonderful job the developers did with the graphics and animation. In a word, they are spectacular. The game features cartoon-like graphics, which make it seem like you are actually playing within a cartoon with the same type of slapstick antics and non-realistic violence. You wonít see any blood or gore in this game, which makes it fun for anybody to play (even young kids). The game is rated E for everyone. The animation and cutscenes are also very cartoonish, and especially enjoyable are the cutscenes before each mission that provide some comic relief about the backgrounds of the big bosses you are going to face. The music, sound, and voice acting are also excellent. And I really love the interactive nature of the music as it changes to fit Slyís current situation or environment. For example, when sneaking around, youíll notice the music get soft and mysterious. A very nice touch.
Well, as Iím sure you can tell, I had a great time playing this game. The plot, gameplay, graphics, animation, sound, music, and overall fun factor of the game are excellent. My only complaint is that for many gamers the game may be too short. If you play games on a regular basis, youíll find that Sly Cooper and Thievius Raccoonus will give you anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of overall play. It would have been nice to have a few more worlds to visit and more bosses to defeat. Nonetheless, this game is great fun, and now Iím looking forward to the Sly Cooper sequel (if Sony decides to do one), which will hopefully be even bigger.