Sly packs a punch

Ah, the joy of mascot themed video games. Remember the golden age of Sonic and Bubsy? And the late 90’s revival with Spryo and Crash? Remember the great times we had playing as these menacing mammals hour after hour eating 7-11 nachos and scamming on our best friend’s little sister? Well I do.

Back for his second action-packed thriller, Sly Cooper revisits the realm of interactive animated gaming to take on The Klaww Gang who threaten to resurrect the Cooper crew’s nemesis, Clockwerk.

As such, Sucker Punch’s sequel to the graphically appealing and imaginative Sly 2: Band of Thieves picks up where the Cooper gang left off. This time, all three members of the Cooper crew are playable, offering expansive game play and a much needed break from the monotony that kept the first installment from topping the list of must have games in 2002.

Playing as Sly the raccoon, Bently the brainy turtle and Murray the tubby homosexual hippo, gamers utilize their various skill sets traveling the world to steal back mechanical parts from the Klaww Gang to ensure Clockwerk is never reassembled.

Sly is all about stealth (that’s the character’s name) – taking out enemies unnoticed from behind, clambering up walls and hiding out in the shadows to reach his assigned goals.

Bently the turtle moves quickly and clumsily and is the most vulnerable to attack. However, he makes up for it with his bomb planting ability and handy digital binoculars to zoom in on the bad guys and crossbow them into unconsciousness.

Murray is the Cooper crew’s brawn. He’s best utilized in hand-to-hand combat – throwing steel benches and smashing foes under his weight – but as expected, he’s not too agile on his fruity hooves.

Most of the missions are broken down into four parts: briefing, reconnaissance, sabotage and robbery. And while it may sound a bit repetitive, strategically placed secret levels and breakable items save the day by offering more challenging tasks and rewarding the crew with extra gadgets to help in their dastardly deeds.

Sucker Punch succeeds in making Sly 2 an addicting game with well-executed twists and surprises that would make even the most crazy A.D.D. case smile with sedation. Among the most notable new features are 1) using your USB headset to either lure guards away by chatting or to listen to Bentley’s coaching advice, 2) interactive open environments set in Paris, Prague, and the Canadian Wilderness, 3) smarter enemies that swarm and call for help from brawnier cohorts, 4) a notably upgraded rendering engine using the latest 2-D cell-shading technology and 5) a vertigo inducing physics engine that rivals any of the best games this year.

And while I’ve moved away from scamming on little sisters, I did stay up way too late with this game, and I did walk my arse to 7-11 on two occasions for a nacho/Big Gulp fix.

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