Sly Cooper And The Thevius Racoonus
By: Green Mitama
Hang onto your hearts - cell shading has just gotten better. It comes to us in the form of a new game developed by Sucker Punch that Sony has lined up as an exclusive for the PS2.
Scheduled to be released in November, Sly Copper and the Thievius Raccoonus is one game any action platform lover should be preparing to shell out the coin for now.
Based on the somewhat traditional platform pattern, Sly Cooper looks to bring us a game with amazing graphics and gameplay while traversing five levels covering a new range of Ice, Underwater, Bayou, Venice and Industrial, some of which will contain vehicles and mini-games. The basic story goes like this: Sly was born into a family of raccoons known to be the world’s best thieves. On his eighth birthday he is presented with the Thievius Raccoonus - the book that contains all of his families thieving secrets. Unfortunately, that very night, his house is broken into, his father overpowered, the book stolen and right in front of Sly’s very eyes the five robbers divide the precious Thievius Raccoonus into parts and make away with Sly’s birthright. 10 years later Sly is out to steal back what is his. He enlists the help of his friends: Bentley - a turtle who is the behind the scenes brains of the operation, doling out helpful information on the traps that lie ahead of Sly and figuring out clues to unlock vaults in the stages - vaults which contain pages of the Thievius Raccoonus; and Murray - a hippo who apparently drives the van, and if rumor is true will be a playable character in the game, but he unfortunately was absent from the demo I played. Other characters known at this point are the aforementioned five bosses and a female cop on Sly’s tail, who apparently has a thing for our hero (ah, what is a game without a love story).
So enough of the background let’s get onto the best part - the look, feel and sound of the game. First off, many of you probably groaned when I said the game is cell shaded. Perhaps you thought of the poor cell shading that some recent games have sported, or perhaps you prefer computer graphics to the cartoon style of cell shading. But whichever reason I’m willing to bet you’ll eat that groan when you actually see the cell shading of Sly Cooper. The characters have an incredible look to them that the well done cell shading actually accentuates. This game more than any other I’ve played really looks like a live cartoon - it’s smooth and graceful, the backgrounds are fabulous and detailed, and the water, well, it is a PS2, but with the cartoon quality of the game the water looks just right.
Sly himself is well animated and exactly what a cartoon thief should be - suave, slick , debonair, and downright good at what he does: sneaking in and stealing stuff. Sucker Punch even animated Sly’s tail so that we know how he’s feeling when his back is turned toward us - and oh what a tail! it’s really fluid and full of expression. Sly moves around like he should, shimmying up drain pipes, creeping along rooftops, whacking at stuff with his cool hooked cane which he finds useful for hitting guards, smashing alarms and sweeping up the plethora of coins that fall around him quick as a wink. There are special areas where Sly will even be able to execute a master thief maneuver like tiptoeing across a tiny little ledge just to get around searchlights. And search lights there are aplenty in the demo as well as guards with flashlights and laser beams to sneak past or run from - be spotted and you will trip an alarm turning the guards deadly or the lights into beams that will fry you on the spot. The game requires brain power to get past the traps waiting for you and to search out all of the clues that you will need to give Bentley in order to open each level’s safe. In one brilliant maneuver you even get to hop into a barrel and sneak past machines throwing darts at you or creep up behind guards. If you remain motionless inside the barrel while the guards flashlights are on you, they won’t notice you allowing Sly to sneak up behind them and, well, sucker punch ‘em. I laughed really hard at this part - funnier even than when Rayman jumped into a bush for cover in Rayman 2.
It is worth mentioning here that while no 3D game camera is perfect, Sucker Punch did add the feature of having objects that get in the camera’s way fade out so you can see through them. It’s a very nice effect. The only thing I have left to rave about is the music - cool, thiefy music almost rakish in style and perfect for the suave-styled stealing you’ll have to do. It even changes into tiptoeing sneak music when creeping up behind a guard in your barrel or performing a master thief tiptoe along a ledge.
Ok so I’ve gone on long enough. If the end game is anything like the demo I played - I’m buying it - it’s beautiful and funny and slick as hell and yes, my friends, there is a victory dance. Keep checking in for more info.