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Sly 2: Band of Thieves

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions Publisher: SCE
14 September 2004
Sly 2: Band of Thieves - cover art
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629 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#215 All-time
#18 for 2004
Master thief Sly Cooper and his gang journey across the world to obtain the powerful robotic body parts of a former nemesis by infiltrating criminal syndicate The Klaww Gang before they fall into far worse hands.
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2004 Sucker Punch SCE  
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2005 Sucker Punch SCE  
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Reappraising the Raccoon, or, Nostalgia, the Great Deceiver
Driven by a more-pathetic-than-I'd-care-to-admit nostalgia-fueled desire to pretend I'm not an adult with adult responsibilities, I recently decided to replay what my tiny eight-year-old self considered the "greatest game ever made," Sly 2: Band of Thieves, which, as is typical of any eight-year-old's pick for the greatest game ever made, happened to be the first game I ever played. Every facet of Sly 2 captivated my child self so strongly that any time I saw power lines or fences or windowsills as a kid, I would imagine the kleptomaniacal raccoon himself nimbly dashing across them with little blue sparkles glowing beneath his feet. And if I were really drunk or writing a video game review online or both, I might even admit that I, as a grown adult who pays taxes and wears a suit and has a stock portfolio, still envision Sly Cooper, a fictional polygonal raccoon, maneuvering across light posts, billboards, and road signs when I'm driving.

Needless to say, my nostalgia for this game is immense, and I knew that replaying Sly 2 would be like taking a giant chainsaw labeled the "Nostalgia Destroyer 9000" to my memories of the game, since no game could live up to such high expectations. Alas, I started the chainsaw, and buried beneath the shredded remains of my fond memories of Sly 2 that now lay scattered on the floor, I have unearthed memories of hating Episode 3, of the dreaded series of Bentley missions at the beginning of Episode 4, of the countless boring turret missions—memories of the fact that this once "greatest game ever made" had its fair share of flaws and a pretty dire case of lacking focus.

This lack of focus is apparent in the huge breadth of mechanics that appear across the game's missions. The game's mechanics are not only split between three characters, each of whom plays very differently, but also between a variety of genres. Sly 2 is at various points a stealth game, a platformer, a brawler, a twin-stick shooter, a rail shooter, and a rhythm game, and this constant switching between mission types, as well as between various unique vehicles (e.g., an RC helicopter, an RC car, a tank), results in a discordant gameplay experience. So many mechanics are quickly introduced and then quickly forgotten: the RC car appears only in a single mission in Episode 7, the ice-climbing mechanic only in Episode 7, the rhythm minigame only in Episode 2, the mega-jump only in one of the very last missions of Episode 8, the tank only in Episode 5, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Sucker Punch crammed so many mechanics into Sly 2 that it forgot to leave room for them to develop, and the consequence is that most missions that do not involve Sly's platforming feel like shallow minigames, mere distractions from the meat-and-potatoes raccoon burgling that everyone likes.

Or, at least, that my eight-year-old self liked. One of the hardest, most foul-tasting pills I had to swallow upon replaying Sly 2 is that Sly's platforming missions themselves are also weaker than I remembered. Perhaps the reason Sucker Punch opted to expand the number of mechanics and mission-types rather than deepening the platforming mechanics established in the first game is that Sly's platforming itself, while blandly enjoyable in some respects, is itself fairly shallow and difficult to expand upon. Platforming in the Sly Cooper series boils down to "jump and press the circle button, and Sly will do the rest," and this context-sensitive style of platforming requires very little skill. It's fun to look at but ultimately fairly shallow. More complex level designs reveal further flaws stemming from the context-sensitive platforming mechanics. As the levels progress in Sly 2, they begin to resemble jungle gyms, like the towering castle in Episode 5, replete with flagpoles and spires and hooks and vaulted arches and narrow ledges all stacked one on top of another, forming a dense multi-layered playground of context-sensitive areas for Sly to cling to or sidle across or latch onto with his cane. Unfortunately, the level design here is so dense that when you press the circle button to land on a spire, for instance, Sly will often instead decide to climb a light post about 20 feet below the spire. Such context sensitivity mix-ups happen regularly enough that the platforming becomes downright sloppy in more dense, complex areas, an unfortunate side-effect of the platforming mechanics that likely also constrained the level designers as they built the game.

Granted, at no point in Sly 2 was the platforming ever truly frustrating, nor were the turret missions or Murray's brawling missions or Bentley's hacking missions. The missions are all fairly simple to get through, and the game remedies the occasional context-sensitive hurdle or unclear mission objective with a fairly forgiving checkpoint system that allows for the quick resumption of any mission-gone-wrong. But when you combine underdeveloped (or perhaps conceptually misguided) context sensitive platforming with shallow side-missions across an entire smorgasbord of genres, the result is a game whose design evinces a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none approach. The platforming is fine, but it's done much better elsewhere, as is the rail-shooting, the brawling, the stealthing, the everything. Sly 2 represents a certain type of game that I'm not sure I can stomach much more as a non-eight-year-old, the type of game that is designed not around unity of its mechanics but around unity of its aesthetics—the type of game that asks "so what else can we put in the game to make it cool?" rather than "so how else can we develop this single mechanic across the game?" Games of this style function as compilations of cool ideas with little regard for whether those ideas feel mechanically cohesive or unified, and though they offer comfortable playing experiences, they ultimately remain unengaging, like a game that never leaves its tutorial phase because it keeps introducing and teaching you new mechanics before discarding them forever.

And yet despite its lack of mechanical focus, Sly 2 offers a charming story, memorable characters, and a slick presentation style. When I saw the credits roll, I knew that it was because of these charming stylistic moments—Dimitri's nightclub music or Murray's theft of the Clockwerk wings in the middle of the second heist's dance or the little bass notes that play along with Sly's footsteps—that I remembered Sly 2 so fondly. And so Sly 2 still has a foothold (or canehold?) in my brain, albeit one that is a bit shakier and less nostalgia-tainted than before I started the chainsaw. The "greatest game ever made" it certainly is not—it is decent and nothing more—but Sly Cooper will continue to run along every telephone wire I see, and that has to count for something.

Final rating: 3/5
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A Much Needed Change from the First
Regardless of your stance on Sly 2, it's hard to deny Suckerpunch the respect they deserve for taking such a large risk with this game.

Besides the art direction almost everything in Sly 2 is different from the first. The combat, writing, platforming, in my opinion, were all changed for the better.

While the first title felt like a title trying to mimic the success of it's competitors such as Crash Bandicoot. Sly 2 felt Suckerpunch finding a true identity for their series. The result was a revolutionary game that changed the platform genre forever and cemented Sly as a household name during the 2000's.

Sly 1 was already a great looking game, but Sly 2 seems to knock it out of the park. The level design is simply glorious. Each location seems to ooze with color and style. While every cutscene, title card, and character captures the eye with bright vivid colors and great animation.

The voice actors are perfectly cast too. Kevin Miller (Sly) and Alesia Glidewell (Carmelita/Neyla) play off each other incredible well. Matt Olsen of course is irreplaceable as Bentley. While Chris Murphy deserves a special mention for making Murray much more lovable this time around. Even all the villains sound great and lead to the most memorable antagonist in the series.

If the absurd difficulty spikes and linear platforming turned you off from the first. Give this game a chance. Not only is game fairly balanced, but you're even presented with wide open environments to explore in this game too . The "heist" set up of the chapters is also incredibly creative too, but also, simultaneously, sets up the game's biggest fault: the missons.

While the idea of having a heist approach to the gameplay is a perfect fit for a sly cooper game. I think it ended up hurting the team overall. Often mission ideas were fun during the first couple of chances, but often overstayed their welcome by constantly being reintroduced in every chapter. Every chapter it seemed Bentley would to do the same hacking minigame or Sly would have to pickpocket guards for keys. I think the shorter "mini game" level approach had limited the amount of creativity and ambition the team could have with their environments.
This only made worse again by the padding.

This is frankly a 16 hour game that could've been 8. Often the first chapter in a new location would be beautifully designed and be incredibly fun to explore. Yet that magic seemed to disappear when the follow up chapter had the same enemies and art design. They often felt like a rush afterthought than a natural progression of what was already presented . Ironically Rajan was the only boss to have two separate environments. But the jungle aesthetic of Chapter 3 was so dull, you'd wish they just copied the design from chapter 2. That's not even mentioning the terrible boss fight.

Still despite these flaws Sly 2 is a platformer that holds up incredibly well. If you're looking for a great 3d platformer this is still one of the best.
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ubnubmaster 2023-03-19T17:51:25Z
2023-03-19T17:51:25Z
4.0
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Um dos principais trunfos do antecessor foi sua variedade no gameplay, ainda mais enriquecido nesta sequência.. A boa condução do ritmo dos episódios se deve quase inteiramente ao fato de que nunca estamos fazendo a mesma coisa na fase, o que permite explorar os cenários de formas diferentes.

A decisão de tornar Bentley e Murray personagens jogáveis contribui muito com isso. Enquanto a tartaruga hackeia sistemas de segurança em minigames de twin-stick shooter, o hipopótamo rosa desce a porrada em geral e pilota um tanque de vez em quando.

Outro óbvio destaque é a atmosfera inocente e sensual em igual medida, características que sempre se contrapõem de forma muito envolvente durante todo o jogo, seja por meio do enredo simples pincelado pelos flertes entre Sly e Carmelita, ou o visual cartunesco sob uma trilha sonora que lembra filmes de espionagem e faroestes.

Do menu inicial aos créditos, Sly 2 transborda personalidade e é um dos mais irresistíveis jogos da sua geração.
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gabrielctps 2022-04-02T22:53:32Z
2022-04-02T22:53:32Z
5.0
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Sucker Punch must have taken a great deal of influence from the other Playstation exclusive studios when considering the sequel to the first Sly Cooper. Namely, Naughty Dog’s direction when developing Jak II, a radical shift in tone and direction from the first game. While Jak II was drastically different in many ways, it still retained all of the essential elements from the first Jak and Daxter. The melding of new and old elements created something surprisingly nuanced and unlocked the potential of the Jak and Daxter franchise that we never knew it had. The Jak and Daxter franchise needed to evolve because the first game practically perfected the 3D platformer game and couldn’t have been topped. In the case of Sly Cooper, the franchise needed to evolve because the first game wasn’t substantial enough. Sly Cooper’s potential was obvious, but it was undermined by the first game's simplistic nature. The presentation and characters had way too much charm, pizzaz, and narrative complexity to be relegated to a bare-bones 3D platformer. The Sly Cooper franchise needed to evolve and adapt to fulfill that potential and to not become a faint memory in the midst of the stagnating 3D platformer genre. Sucker Punch took an extra year in development just like Naughty Dog did with Jak II to make a game that fully realized the potential of the Sly Cooper IP. Sly 2: Band of Thieves is what came of this longer development period and it wasn’t a radical overhaul like in the case of Jak II. All of the familiar elements like the comic book style presentation and the smokey, noirish tone of the first game were still present. Sly 2 takes a similar approach to Jak II in that it mixes in open-world elements in a 3D platformer, making a hybrid that allows the characters and narrative to become more involved. With this direction, the Sly Cooper series that was once a bud bloomed into a beautiful flower. All it needed was some richer soil.

Sly 2 illustrates this extra level of involvement as early as the prologue. In Sly Cooper fashion, the introduction involves silhouetted figures running across the rooftops of a bustling city skyline. That's right, I said figure(s). Sly’s got some help on the field. Sly slides down a rope into what looks like a museum and surveys the grounds. He gets a binocucom call from Bentley and treats Bentley’s wariness from being out on the field for the first time with light-hearted mockery, telling him to lighten up. Yes, Bentley is no longer just a glorified tutorial constantly giving Sly swimmer’s ear with his nasal whine. He’s front and center in the action and uses his technological skills to turn off the museum’s security system. If three figures were running across the rooftops and Bentley was one of them, could the third one possibly be Murray? As Sly moves forward, he hears a “THUNDER FLOP” from above as Murray crashes through the glass ceiling. This time, Sly doesn’t aid a helpless friend. Murray returns the favor by lifting an iron gate and smashing another one by impressively lobbing a bust at it from far away. Sly makes it to what looks like the center of the museum to find that what he was looking for has already been stolen. Carmelita and another officer jump out of hiding to arrest Sly when the other officer, Constable Neyla, suggests that perhaps Sly didn’t steal the Clockwerk parts. She suggests that there’s evidence that a group of criminals known as the Klaww Gang made off with the parts, but that doesn’t stop Carmelita from chasing Sly and his friends with her trademark shock pistol. Sly and his gang getaway in the van and Sly explains the set-up. Clockwerk, the leader of the Fiendish Five and the final boss of the first game, has somehow survived the unfathomably scalding temperatures of sitting in molten lava and his parts have been exhibited in a museum in Cairo for some time. The insane excavator who found and moved these pieces out of the mouth of a volcano is never revealed. Sly feels reasonably discontent about the fact that Clockwerk is relatively intact and seeks to destroy those pieces for good measure. After all, he did kill Sly’s parents and harbored a grudge against his family that lasted a millennium. Alas, all of the pieces were in fact stolen by The Klaww Gang and Sly must travel the world bringing those pieces back and finally end the legacy of his nemesis.

If you couldn’t tell from the prologue, the level of involvement present in Sly 2 is apparent in tons of different aspects. The presentation in the first game was colorful and the comic-book quality of it gave it a certain level of charm, but what’s presented here in Sly 2 makes the first game look rough and amateurish by comparison. Everything involving the presentation here looks much more refined. The character models look more pronounced and fit much better with the cel-shaded backgrounds. Sly’s bottom jaw no longer looks like it’s trying to remove itself from the rest of his head when he talks like it did in the first game. The illustrations in the comic-like intro/outros are better outlined and everything from the characters, backgrounds, to the slight movements in the animations, are impressively defined. They look far more attractive than the splotchy illustrations from the first game. The presentation here upholds a higher standard of professionalism which can probably be attested to the long development period. They took the time to put a much-needed sheen over the aesthetics and made them look so much more captivating.

The attention to detail in the presentation is certainly delightful, but that’s not the level of involvement everyone often associates with Sly 2. A more literal sense of involvement is the inclusion of both Bentley and Murray doing fieldwork with Sly. Their roles might be a bit misleading judging from the prologue. Both of them aren’t here to merely assist the player when Sly comes across something out of his element. Bentley and Murray are both playable, and not in the same sense of conveniently popping up once in a while like Clank and Daxter. Bentley and Murray are in the limelight almost as much as Sly and are as readily playable. Sly may still get top billing here, but the “Band of Thieves” subtitle sort of connotes that the game involves a group effort instead of simply supporting Sly whenever they are needed. Sly’s “band of thieves” are like the Attractions to his Elvis Costello: supporting members who have their own unique functions that make up the whole of the band. While Sly gets more precedence, his role is no more vital than his teammates. After all, pulling off the jobs in this game requires a considerable group effort that requires a smattering of unique talents working together.

Sly is still the same nimble, agile thief he was in his first outing. He has retained most of his physical thieving abilities from the first game, namely spire jumping, climbing up pipes, swinging off of hooks, etc. that help him traverse through an area with ease. He has also adopted some new moves like the sneak combo where latches onto an enemy while their back is turned and slams them to the ground. This range of movement is also assisted with the impeccably smooth controls that transfer from the first game. He’s still incredibly confident and devilishly charming as well, leaving his trademark calling card at the scene of a crime and flirting with Carmelita even when she has her shock pistol aimed right at him. Sly’s character is essentially the same as he was both in terms of physicality and personality. The evolution of his character comes with translating his thieving prowess into the new foreground of an open-world design. Sly’s moves aren’t a means to traverse obstacle course-like levels with a concrete finishing line anymore. Fortunately, these new spacious playgrounds accommodate Sly’s array of thieving acrobatics quite nicely. I don’t think there is a section in any of these areas that Sly can’t climb or use his cane as a tool for traversal. He may be visiting these places inconspicuously, but they seem to be curiously designed in his favor. Sly’s translation into the more open-world format is very similar to how Naughty Dog transferred Jak. A platforming character is introduced into a new setting that strangely allows him to transfer all of his innate platforming moves without any inconveniences. Their varied movement makes the often rigid open-world protagonist feel much comfortable to control. Sly’s voice actor also does a much better job this time around as he projects Sly’s confidence more clearly instead of mumbling his lines.

Bentley’s more proactive role in Sly 2 is a progression of his character. In the first game, he monitored Sly from a distance and this wasn’t because Sly only needed him for quick points of advice. Bentley was far too cautious for his own good and fretted at every point of danger. In Sly 2, Bentley rips off his bowtie and dons a safari hat, signifying his more dynamic role in Sly’s gang. While he is willing to leave his comfort zone for the job, he can still be a bit hesitant to act, especially if he’s on his own. As the game progresses, Bently’s prudent nature in the face of danger will be tested to its limit. Bentley is the least versatile and physically weakest of the three main characters, making the stealth aspects more of a means for survival on the field. Fortunately, Sucker Punch didn’t leave Bentley in the dark, or so to speak. Bentley is more than capable of holding his own out there in the face of adversity. He is armed with a crossbow and it’s not for pinning guards against the wall. He uses it to fire sleep darts which incapacitate guards for a short period of time. He can then plant bombs to subdue them which are either timed or detonated with manual control. For being the least intimidating member of Sly’s gang, his method of combating the guards is the most cold-blooded. Bentley can also initiate hacking minigames involving a green tank shooting security bots in a top-down perspective. They are sort of like the one section in the last area in the first game except much more realized and they look less like a 1982 arcade game.

On the other hand, Murray in Sly 2 is a total revitalization of his character from the first game. He is no longer dead weight like he once was. Sly even makes a point to introduce Murray as “the brawn” in the prologue as if he’s always been the powerhouse of the team since day one. Really, Sly? You’re telling me this isn’t the same fat, pink doofus who couldn’t pull his own weight from the first game? Either or, Murray has shifted from being burdensome to Sly and the player to being my favorite character. This Murray is confident in his abilities and even refers to himself as “The Murray” which signifies his newfound boisterous attitude like a frat boy. His new persona more or less comes off endearing like a kid playing superhero. I felt it was more endearing because it makes me wanna hug the big guy, only if he wouldn’t inadvertently crush my spine in the process. Speaking of crushing spines, that’s Murray’s specialty on the field. The stealth aspect of this game goes right out the window with Murray as he can mow down swarms of guards with little effort. He can also pick up most objects and throw them including most of the enemies. Playing as Murray is a little cheap because he breaks the stealth foundation of the series. A hippo running loose in the streets is about as subtle as...well, a hippo running loose in the streets, so stealth is out of the question. I can’t fault this too much because playing as Murray is too much fun and at least his approach to combat feels totally different from Sly and Bentley.

Carmelita makes her return, fulfilling her role as the dedicated cop who ambushes Sly occasionally and fails to bring him to justice. She is essentially the same as she was in the first game except with a new voice actress. This new voice actress brings a more passionate delivery which was needed from the totally wooden one from the first game. It’s still unfitting that this new voice actress decided to give Carmelita an American accent instead of a Latin one. Carmelita’s aim with that shock pistol also isn’t any better. The returning supporting character that ironically has more of a presence is Clockwerk. Clockwerk himself never makes an appearance in Sly 2, rather his body parts are the main focus in the story. For some reason, Sly illustrating how menacing Clockwerk is in the first animated cutscene brings more intrigue to Clockwerk than his role as the final boss in the first game. This one narration heightens Clockwerk as a gigantic threat to Sly, making the main goal of destroying his parts of dire importance. This level of intrigue is elevated as Sly describes the power of his individual parts in each chapter. When the sequel makes the final boss of the first game seem more foreboding through simple presentation even when he’s not actually present, you know you’re dealing with a whole new level of quality here.

The Klaww Gang are also much more of a formidable unit than the Fiendish Five were. I always got the impression that the Fiendish Five were retired and settled nicely in their respective strongholds just minding to themselves. Sly’s mission was to seek them down at their homes as a means for revenge for killing his parents and stealing his property. Sly was checking off their names like a hit list. The Klaww Gang is still an active force, conducting an illegal spice operation using specific Clockwerk parts for their own unique properties. The members of the Klaww Gang also have their own roles in the spice operation, more realistic ones in a criminal gang rather than the vague set of skills each member of the Fiendish Five offered. Rajan produces the spice, Jean Bison ships the spice, and Dimitri deals the spice. Arpeggio acts as their leader and specializes in creating and maintaining the technology they use for their operations. All of the Klaww Gang members also seem to admire Clockwerk to some extent, giving Clockwerk this legendary status as an immortal criminal instead of just a menace to the Cooper clan. They did seek out his parts and are utilizing them for maximum efficiency (except for Dimitri who is using them to copy money). I also felt like Sly’s interactions with each member of the Fiendish Five were unfittingly nonchalant for dealing with the people who murdered his parents. With the Klaww Gang, it’s just business. Sly can exude his smarmy attitude towards these people as there is nothing personal between them. Their strongholds are nothing more than layers of adversity that keep Sly from quickly nabbing the parts.

Sly 2 is also much more inspired than the first game. The new source of inspiration that has molded the concrete identity of the series is heist films. Heist films aren’t necessarily synonymous with film noir, but the genres tend to overlap at times (The Killing, The Red Circle, etc.) due to both being heavily stylized crime subgenres. The more complicated set-ups of heist films better compliment the noirish tone of Sly Cooper. They also give a much-needed depth to the gameplay. Sly is no longer collecting simple, Macguffin platformer items like keys to access the area’s boss. Progression in Sly 2 is in the form of mission-based objectives which are standard in the open-world genre. Every area has six or seven different missions divided fairly evenly between Sly, Bentley, and Murray. The first mission will always involve Sly sneaking into the Klaww Gang member’s base of operations and taking reconnaissance photos. Once he does this, Bentley puts together a slideshow detailing the tasks needed to be done before they can steal the Clockwerk part. There is often the second phase of operations in the same area that is also presented in its own slideshow presentation that details even more tasks. Once all of these tasks are completed, Bentley will detail the heist in yet another slideshow, naming the heists as “Operation: X” to signify the grand scale of the main operation to steal the Clockwerk part. Each of these heists is so grand that they require the efforts of every character. For example, in the first India chapter, Murray has to lift the heavy Clockwerk wings while suspended by a rope on a winch. Bentley blows up a bridge to distract Rajan’s guards while Sly dances with Carmelita to distract all of the patrons in Rajan’s palace. Murray then carries the wings to the van while Bentley covers him from the air with his remote-controlled chopper. While the regular missions are brief and usually involve performing repetitive tasks, they are necessary for leading up to the electrifying heist. Every task Bentley has you do is always air-tight thanks to the writing in this game. Nothing you do ever seems like grinding or busywork. Even in playing the most forgettable of missions, the heist at the end of each area always pays off.

In contrast to the vast city-scape of Haven City in Jak II, Sly 2 shows a little more restraint with its free-roaming playgrounds. Sly can’t seamlessly travel around the world in the team van at his leisure, as ideal as that sounds. Each area coincides with an episode like in the first game, now presented in the main menu like selecting an episode of a DVD menu. The areas are free to roam with any of the three characters once they survey the land and conjure up a multi-step plan to steal the Clockwerk part. Admittedly, the areas accommodate Sly’s range of movement more than the other two, but Bentley and Murray aren’t completely helpless. Murray can execute a charged super jump and Bentley has a jetpack to get to the same heights as Sly. Playing as Bentley and Murray never feel like a handicap in terms of traversal. Whether it be a city or a more remote location, each place is beaming with its own unique geography, tone, and layout. Most places even have inside areas that are usually accessed during missions. These missions can be revisited at any time and can range from clubs, hotels, crypts, log cabins, etc. There isn’t much to do in these areas outside of the missions, but the fact that these are just a part of the whole level gives them more depth. Each area also comes with a safe house where you select playing as one of the three characters. There is not much else to do in the safehouse, but it’s sometimes interesting to spectate the gang just hanging out with the area in the background. The hubs of the first game were so lackluster and were just placed as a center for all of the levels. The open-world foundation of Sly 2 organically breathes more life into these levels and makes running around in them all the more engaging.

In Sly Cooper fashion, the areas of each episode center around a member of the target criminal gang and are based on a real-world location. Except for the first and final chapters, each country or city is represented in two separate locations for two consecutive chapters. The second consecutive chapter may be in the same country, but take place in a totally different geographical setting like the Indian city in chapter 2 followed by the Indian jungle in chapter 3. Like the areas in the first game, all of the areas in Sly 2 take place in totally different geographical locations with their own cultures and climates. The three types of guards are also animals that more or less represent the country. For example, the guards in Paris are frogs, rats, and pigs (Haha. I just realized how offensive that is.) and the Canadian guards are moose, ducks, and rams. King cobras will pop out of holes in India and Canada has caves with hibernating bears. The open-world aspect is what elevates Sly 2’s areas above the areas from the first game, but it’s nice to see the level of detail the developers put into making each of these levels discernible through cultural and geographical differences.

Sly 2 also puts a bigger emphasis on stealth and thievery. Every single mission involves staying out of plain sight (except playing as Murray) and stealing items from enemies. Sly will often steal keys, sneak through hideouts in a barrel, sidle past buildings with visible enemies walking around, and crawl under tables to avoid being seen. Sly can also pickpocket the guards of their money and valuables. These valuables can be sold on the internet with Bentley in the safehouse. There are also valuables found throughout each area supported on a plinth that can be taken back to the safehouse and sold as well. Thirty clues bottles will also be strewn across each level and collecting all of them will grant you a code to a vault with a powerup inside. This emphasis on stealth and thievery gives the game more credence to the stealth genre and Sly’s role as a thief. It’s also far more enticing than just using stealth as a circumstantial game mechanic while platforming.

In the first game, stealth was necessary not to alert the guards or trip the security because Sly would die in one hit. In Sly 2, each character has a health meter in the top left corner of the screen. The amount of health you lose upon being hit depends on several variants ranging from being hit by guards, security lights with bullets, lasers, and falling in water (which makes sense for Sly but not for Bentley and Murray. You’re telling me that neither the turtle nor the hippo can swim? I understand that this is done for consistency, but the irony is too rich). The most common threat that Sly and his gang will have to watch out for most of the time is the guards. These guards are aesthetically different per area (different animals by country), but the three types of guards remain constant. The smaller guards will attack you lightly, but alert more guards by blowing a horn. The medium guards will attack you more often and they scale the most ground. The big flashlight guards are the ones to fear. Their light gives them the widest range of sight and they are the sturdiest of the three. They are also the only type of guards with firearms. These guards are constantly on patrol in the streets, on top of buildings, inside of buildings, etc. While the levels act as big playgrounds, Sly and the gang always have to be vigilant so as not to be seen by them. However, the consequence of getting caught by the guards is never that severe. Sly can fight the smaller guards with ease and may only sustain minor damage from fighting a flashlight guard. Murray can KO a flashlight guard with two hits and obliterate the smaller guards with a single blow, making him practically indestructible. The only character who has to worry is Bentley, but Bentley can run away all the same. In fact, all of the characters can just run away and the guards will forget about them in seconds. My main criticism with Sly 2 is that it’s too easy. I would say this game is more lenient with error, but there are constant checkpoints during the missions and the bosses all have predictable attack patterns. They certainly didn’t take note from Jak II in this case.

The most important level of extra involvement that vastly elevates Sly 2 from the first game is the story. With all of the refinements to the presentation, the more in-depth, open-world, platformer hybrid gameplay, and the emphasis on thieving, the story is the aspect that shows Sly Cooper’s full potential. The story is tense, complex, heartfelt, and will drop surprises on you when you least expect it. It is the centerpiece of this game.

The first heist sends the gang to Paris to steal the Clockwerk tailfeathers from Dimitri, a lounge lizard (har har) who owns a nightclub in Paris. Sly and the gang topple the giant peacock from the front of the club and Sly confronts Dimitri from inside. Dimitri ends up being nothing but a clueless peon who talks like someone who is trying to use hip lingo to desperately sound cool. Sly has no trouble taking the clockwerk feathers from this guy. India is the next stop as the Klaww Gang’s spice producer Rajan is the next target. Rajan is a pretentious egoist who goes to great lengths to exude his high status, but it’s all a ruse to mask his peasant upbringing. He presents the massive Clockwerk wings as the centerpiece of his throne inside of his extravagant palace where he hosts dignified ballroom dances. Once Sly and the gang take the wings literally while his back is turned, a disgraced Rajan goes into hiding in the dense Indian jungle, a humbling reminder of where he came from. It’s here in these jungles where chapter 3 takes place. Rajan’s hideout is the heart of the Klaww Gang spice production (no pun intended) where he is using the unending beat of the Clockwerk heart to continuously pump spice. He’s also carrying the other half of the heart on a staff as another symbol of power. Bentley decides the appropriate course of action is to flood Rajan out by breaking the dam over his hideout, further reminding Rajan of the virtue of humility by reverting him to his primal, cat-like instinct of disliking water.

The first few operations in Sly 2 are executed smoothly with little to no blowback. They are probably anti-climactic to situate the player into the new method of progression and to prove that the three characters can execute jobs of a higher caliber than just collecting items and beating the boss. These first few chapters are adequate, but after the third heist is when the game becomes interesting. I’ve been very careful not to spoil too much about the middle section of Sly 2 because it’s spurred by a twist that happens during the heist mission in the third chapter. It’s this moment that sets the precedent for the rest of the game. I cheer for these guys when the job goes accordingly, but it’s all the more invigorating when the job goes horribly wrong. After all, what would Reservoir Dogs be if everything went hunky-dory?

During the first few chapters, Sly often has a spontaneous rendezvous with Neyla, a police officer who is supposed to apprehend Sly and his gang like Carmelita. Instead, she acts as a renegade cop who aids Sly in getting a leg up on infiltrating Klaww Gang hideouts. One would think her helpful disposition and knowledge of Klaww Gang secrets would be suspicious, but Sly doesn’t think twice about it. Methinks Sly was thinking with his tail if you catch my drift. During the third heist in the jungle, Neyla traps Sly and Murray in a giant hollow basin, leaving Sly injured and Murray to fight Rajan. The Contessa, a high-ranking police officer, takes them away and Neyla even accuses Carmelita of being in league with the Cooper Gang, resulting in her arrest as well. Her reason for accusing Carmelita is that she was dancing with Sly during the ball. It doesn’t make sense, but we soon learn that’s not the real reason she’s arrested. It does make you consider something about Carmelita however. Sly’s “disguise” during that scene in the ballroom was as convincing as a monkey wearing a Groucho Marx mask, yet Carmelita didn’t seem to notice. Did she actually know it was Sly the whole time and pretended she didn’t know so she could dance with him? Neyla also makes a point about how persistent Carmelita is with attempting to catch Sly, but never seems to bring him to justice. Does Carmelita have feelings for Sly? Is her fixation on Sly motivated by affection and not honest police work? It really does make you consider their relationship.

The fourth chapter, “Jailbreak!” isn’t the best chapter in Sly 2. However, it is the most important chapter for several reasons. It’s the turning point of the game where the Cooper gang’s mission takes a back route, but it’s something much deeper. This chapter is the reason why this game is considered the optimal Sly Cooper experience and the reason why I favor this game over the others as well. It’s the chapter that deeply explores the rich chemistry between Sly, Bentley, and Murray not just as teammates, but as best friends. While Sly and Murray were taken into custody, Bentley got away by hiding out from a distance. He realizes that this means he’s on his own now which is something that greatly discomforts him. While the situation is grim, he decides to face his fears and press on forward to save his friends, no matter what stands in his way. Bentley finds himself in the center of The Contessa’s rehabilitation center located in the city of Prague. This dark, spooky place is the perfect area for Bentley to overcome his fears. While on his own, Bentley learns about the insidious truth about The Contessa. She’s a secret operative in The Klaww Gang who specializes in hypnosis. The worst aspect of this is that she’s not using the hypnosis as means of rehabilitation, but brainwashing criminals into telling her where they’ve hidden their loot. Considering the thieving reputation of the Cooper Clan, saving Sly and Murray proved to be urgent. Bentley breaks Sly out first which is a sweet moment of gratitude from Sly to Bentley, endearingly referring to him as “the wizard” as a callback to the prologue. The rest of the chapter is a joint production between Sly and Bentley to rescue Murray. Once they break into the prison, they find Murray being tormented with a combination of eating spice and being hypnotized. This sends Murray into a drug-induced rage which they use to their advantage to bust him out. Murray calms down and they have a confrontation with the Contessa, but she gets away on a blimp.

It’s obvious from the first few chapters of this game that these three guys work spectacularly as a group of thieves. How else would they have been able to flawlessly execute those first few jobs? Their unique talents work incredibly well together. However, these characters are more than just their unique roles on the field. Where Sly is acrobatic, he is also courageous and charismatic. Where Bentley is tech-savvy, he is also pragmatic and clever. Where Murray is strong, he is also sweet and passionate. Their unique talents don’t just make up a formidable team, but their different personalities are the components of a strong friend group. We know about the background between these characters from each game’s prologue, but “Jailbreak!” is the moment where the game proves that they are great friends and not just teammates. Bentley had to get his hands dirty in this chapter and did some uncharacteristic things, but he persevered because Sly and Murray meant so much to him. He also inadvertently completed his character arc in the process, showing his friends and himself that he had more strength in him than he ever knew. When they all reconvene after the chapter, they don’t immediately start formulating another plan. They all are overjoyed to be with each other again, joking and laughing all night long in the team van. This chapter shows that you can find other people to do a job, but you can’t easily replace a friend. It’s at this point where you really start to care about these characters and want them to succeed on their mission.

The gang isn’t quite done in Prague just yet. After outing herself as a secret member of The Klaww Gang, The Contessa is on the outs with Interpol and Neyla has waged a war at her stronghold in Prague to apprehend her. She is also in possession of the Clockwerk eyes which she’s been using to hypnotize people. When Sly climbs her tower to take reconnaissance photos, he sees Carmelita strapped down to a gurney being subjected to The Contessa’s hypnosis. It’s a pretty unsettling scene, made even more unsettling by the aghast reaction Bentley has to the machinery The Contessa is using for hypnosis. Looks like the gang has another objective other than retrieving the eye. Real-life Prague is filled to the brim with gothic architecture, but all of these gothic features are amplified here to the point where it looks like an area from Bloodborne. However, the gang is too determined to be afraid of this haunting place as they capture ghosts, ransack coffins, and explore ancient Czechoslovakian tombs while carrying highly sensitive explosives on their backs. This all results in my favorite heist in the game that doesn’t go exactly as planned, much to Bentley’s chagrin. Sly has to chase down Neyla for one eye and Murray has to shoot Carmelita down with a tank for the other. The heist is incredibly tense, but the tank is one of the worst things I’ve ever had to control in any video game. The gang makes off with the eyes, Sly makes a getaway with Carmelita, The Contessa is arrested, and Neyla is even promoted as a result.

The next location is a breath of fresh air from the last two chapters. The gang makes their way up to the icy northern regions of Canada to steal a whopping three Clockwerk parts from Jean Bison, the distributor of the Klaww Gang. Jean Bison is introduced with an interesting backstory. Apparently, Jean Bison is a prospector from the mid 19th century who was frozen in a block of ice and thawed out 150 years later. Since then, he’s become one of the most successful train barons of the 21st century but has found himself twitterpated by the crime world. The folksy foreground of this area mixed with the gang’s underestimation of Jean Bison makes for a more breezy chapter compared to the eerie setting of Prague with the cruel, malevolent Contessa. Everything goes a bit too smoothly for my liking, but this chapter is too damn fun for me to care. However, this chapter goes far too smoothly for a reason. The gang lets their guard down after overcoming Prague, and so does the player. The story’s conflict does not peak in the middle of the game. It gets much worse for the Cooper gang.

The gang travels north up to Nunavut Bay to Jean Bison’s logging site. This is where he’s using the Clockwerk talons as a makeshift ax for deforestation, something he started in the 1850s that he has decided to continue in the 21st century. He puts the talons up for a prize in the annual lumberjack games but doesn’t plan on competing fairly. The good news is that Sly and his gang don’t intend to either. The heist is the gang cheating their way to victory in the lumberjack games which is enacted like a comical Marx brothers routine. Once Jean Bison catches wind of their shenanigans, he knocks them all out. They all wake up in a daze to find themselves held up somewhere and only Bentley can escape through a tight hole. He confronts Jean Bison who has ransacked the safehouse and shipped every single Clockwerk part they had to Arpeggio including the talons, giving him every single piece of Clockwerk. Jean Bison then exposes some prejudices about turtles which is expected from someone from the 19th century. Bentley beats Jean Bison in one of the most unorthodox fights in the game and the gang heads inside a battery that is being carried to Arpeggio’s blimp. The comic outro of this chapter is one of the most devastating moments in the game. Remember what I said about the game doing a stellar job at making you care about Sly and his friends? Well, the crestfallen impact of this moment is felt by every player in this game. Everything was going so smoothly for the gang, and to think they would be thwarted by the least assumed member of the Klaww Gang is just an added insult to injury. All of their hard work up until this point was about to be squandered. You feel the hopeless feeling of failure with the gang. You might even shed a single tear with Murray as the team van floats away on a block of ice.

The last chapter of this game takes place on Arpeggio’s blimp located high in the sky somewhere over Europe. From a certain standpoint, this is my least favorite chapter in the game. The mechanical layout of the blimp does not match the geography of the other areas, but this chapter carries a sense of dread that others do not. Sly takes immediate action once arriving on the blimp and tries to retrieve the Clockwerk parts from Arpeggio. The hairs stand up on the back of the gang’s necks when they discover that Arpeggio has already been reassembled, but not fit to be operated just yet. After attempting to tear Clockwerk apart by reversing the polarity of some magnets, he accidentally completes the bird. Arpeggio arrives and commends Sly for doing his work. Sly also finds Neyla here and learns that she’s been secretly retrieving Clockwerk parts for Arpeggio because he didn’t trust the other members to give them up to him when the time was right. Sly readily assumes that Arpeggio wants Clockwerk to be a vessel for him because of his small stature and inability to fly. However, Arpeggio reveals his true incentive with a convoluted plot involving making himself immortal by generating hatred from the people of Earth who have consumed spice by hypnotizing them with the northern lights, and the hatred fuels his immortality. It’s pretty Machiavellian for a little parrot. Once he’s about to step inside, Neyla tips him over and jumps into Clockwerk herself, killing Arpeggio and becoming the second incarnation of Clockwerk (with a stupider name). Even though Sly’s mortal enemy lives on, the gang doesn’t give up. They pull off some group jobs by deactivating the blimp’s engines and hire Carmelita to help Sly shoot down “Clock-La”, engaging on a mutual enemy. The first phase of the “Clock-La” fight is a rehash of the Clockwerk fight from the first game, but the second phase is an intense climax where Sly paraglides over the wreckage of the blimp and fights “Clock-La” with his cane 10,000 feet in the air. The gang crash lands in Paris and realizes that Clockwerk’s mortality lies with the hate chip. Bentley dissects the hate chip from “Clock-La”, but cripples himself in the process. “Clock-La” explodes, but the pieces remain intact. Carmelita arrives and destroys the hate chip, disintegrating the Clockwerk parts as a result and ending the immortal Clockwerk. She also tries to arrest all of them, but Sly negotiates to let Bentley and Murray go after what they had been through. Carmelita clears her name by taking Sly into custody and they ride out of Paris, or so they think. The last moment of the game corroborates my theory about how Carmelita truly sees Sly. They have what is essentially a first date on the chopper complete with small talk and champagne. I don’t buy that Carmelita didn’t notice the ploy set up by Bentley and Murray. She just wanted to get some alone time with Sly and her final words as Sly paraglides away are even flirty. It’s a total “a-ha!” moment and a sweet way to close the story of this game. .

I feel exhausted retelling this entire story, but I felt it was necessary to illustrate how spectacular it is. The level of improvement over the glorified checklist that was the story of the first game cannot even be expressed with words. The story started seemingly as another checklist with different items but throws the player for so many loops as a process of deviating from simple goals that are completed just by playing the game. This is a story so good that it garners a sense of empathy for the characters and their mission. How many video game stories can say that especially one from a game whose target demographic is children like Sly Cooper? I can’t think of any.

Sucker Punch needed a guiding light to fulfill the full potential for the Sly Cooper IP. I’m convinced they took inspiration from Jak II to make this happen considering Sucker Punch combined the platforming elements from the first Sly Cooper and projected them into the open-world genre just like Naughty Dog did with the sequel to Jak and Daxter. It was through this direction that Sly Cooper could relish in heist missions, something that complimented the noirish tone of the series and gave the gameplay much more depth than the standard platformer. All of this was complete with a knockout story with one of the most likable ensembles of characters across any video game. Sucker Punch needed to transcend the first game to make the desired impact they wanted Sly Cooper to have, and they accomplished this without any question in mind.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T19:55:13Z
2017-07-21T19:55:13Z
10.0
4
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A Classic for a Reason
Sly 2; a classic game on a classic console, and one I feel is labeled with the "overrated" tagline far too often. While something I understand is not for everyone, replaying this recently on my PlayStation 2 I remembered the love I felt for not only this game, but the series as a whole. Eight beautifully crafted levels with a gorgeous soundtrack, a detailed and perfectly sculpted world with a story that felt genuine, mini-games, and in-depth character development. All of this from a game about a raccoon, a turtle, and a hippo that steal from criminals. Can I say I have nostalgia blindness? Quite possibly, as my ability to objectively play this was very difficult. However, if I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had 0 bias would my opinion change? I very highly doubt it. This game may be my favorite game of all time, and not a day passes that I don't wish for a fifth and final installment in the series. With that being said, this game gets the highest honor of a perfect score; 10/10
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TheMangoWave 2021-06-20T03:45:39Z
2021-06-20T03:45:39Z
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"I hear ya, Blizzard."
I'm hesitant to call this game overrated. On the one hand, most parts within this game are things that I do agree are probably the best parts of not only this franchise, but some of the best parts of the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox generation, and I enjoy it way more than the first game. On the other hand, this game has one massive downpoint that really pull me away from saying "This is it, this is one of the best games ever" circle that people seem to held this up in, and it's something I don't see discussed too often EDIT: Alright nvm this game is like a 9 for me now. I still think the issues I mention later can be pretty big, but everything else this game offers more than makes up for.

First, the good. The controls for Sly have been given a few more mechanics like pick-pocketing and some tweaking so that the jumping can be a bit more precise, and man is it good. If you want to pull of some tricky maneuvers and quick reflexes, this game will let you. I'd say the only time it starts to get questionable, is when you meant to walk/grab/hop on one thing, yet the game immediately places Sly somewhere below the object you meant to get a hold on. And the powerups aren't actually useless now. Being able to get them via treasures and loose coins then buying them off of Thiefnet (this game's version of a shop), or cracking safes open with the returning Clue bottles makes it seem like a bit much, but when you realized these powerups range from a distracting alarm clock, to silent takedowns, to a paraglider, to even a lightning spin move, it starts to become worth it. In addition, you can now play as Bentley, and Murrary actually participates instead of being regulated to lame races and a stupid turret cover section. And while these guys aren't as agile or mobile as Sly, they're still pretty good to control around, especially when you consider that Murrary's brute strength can lead to a fun time of mowing down enemies with punches and throws, and Bentley makes sure to cover himself well with sleep darts and bombs. The overworld also takes place here instead of the linear levels, and while in some cases they can get a bit annoying, they're implemented rather well overall, which is great to say since it could've easily fallen into the trappings of "having an overworld because everyone else is doing it".

Another improvement is the writing, cause man I really forgot how well-written this game is. Not only do most of the jokes and backtalks hit the mark wonderfully, but even the story this time around got a boost with the villains. Sure Dmitri, while a fun villain to face, is a bit onto the goofy side, and Rajan and Arpeggio are as interesting as a wet blanket (though you can argue that was the point for the latter), but then you get intimidating ones like Contessa, Neyla, and Jean Bison that basically trumps all the previous ones and the ones from 1. Seriously, they're that good.

Really, the main thing that hurts this game from getting a higher score is the slight inconsistent it contains within the gameplay. If I can give a brief, overall summary of this game's level, I'd say that the first two levels are good, then 3 and 4 are the worst parts of the game, with 5, 6 and 7 being the best parts of the game, and 8 being a good, if underwhelming, final level. Main reason for this? The missions in each of those levels. One mission you could be having a blast platforming somewhere, sneaking around enemies while pickpocketing them, or pummeling up some baddies, the next you'll be tasked to do something tedious like the returning turret sections that are still as uninteresting as ever, or bringing one thing to a point on the map without getting hit which is much easier said than done. There's also the new RC segments and hacking segments, and although these can sometimes be just as tedious and annoying, for the most part they're alright, if in need of some fine tuning.

That's all I got though. While the franchise has kinda dropped the whole "stealth" aspect and went into a more action-oriented viewpoint, I don't mind it too much, since this game and especially the next one still manage to be some of the best platformers out there.
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ifeelthecosmos Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-20T00:32:10Z
2024-06-20T00:32:10Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Joanurzua Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-19T18:19:30Z
2024-06-19T18:19:30Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
keyinlock Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-18T18:05:21Z
2024-06-18T18:05:21Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Megistotherium Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-14T08:34:27Z
PS2 • XNA
2024-06-14T08:34:27Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Anatomized Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-13T14:07:14Z
2024-06-13T14:07:14Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Magnenntae Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-10T16:25:10Z
2024-06-10T16:25:10Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Jcoley19 Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-07T20:19:03Z
2024-06-07T20:19:03Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ChomskyHonk Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-06-01T19:10:06Z
2024-06-01T19:10:06Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
TrollPotat Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-05-30T23:15:09Z
PS2 • XNA
2024-05-30T23:15:09Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Doubloon00 Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-05-27T15:20:46Z
PS2 • XNA
2024-05-27T15:20:46Z
3.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Cognizant_Koala Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-05-27T11:49:55Z
2024-05-27T11:49:55Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
exolemon Sly 2: Band of Thieves 2024-05-25T04:23:14Z
2024-05-25T04:23:14Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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ESRB: E
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  • Previous comments (4) Loading...
  • ... 2021-10-27 20:16:51.138627+00
    One of the few games I've platinumed, it's so good!
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  • AidanAlva 2022-04-14 04:59:40.495305+00
    Stylistically speaking I'd say this was the peak of the series, but I agree Sly 3 elevated the writing in terms of character arcs (I do prefer the villains of 2). All three are top-tier, favourite games for me. I believe this was my first rating on here as well.
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  • rivecat 2024-02-01 03:14:08.041564+00
    I don't agree with the opinion that 3 has better writing at all. 3 starts with a cliche "oops! that's me! you might be wondering how i got into this mess!" and the game fumbles in inconsistency. I will concede that some of the characters in 3 are absolutely top tier, and dimitri's character arc is great.. but 2 is more witty, charming, consistent, tightly written, amazing story. and the obvious fact the gameplay is significantly more enjoyable
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  • The_Prep 2024-03-22 02:47:34.330843+00
    This game is in the top 250 and it's only #20 for 2004. Crazy year man. I gotta get around to playing these games soon.
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  • luna128 2024-03-31 21:14:15.605211+00
    Nowhere near as fun to revisit as an adult compared to Jak/Ratchet
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  • Cognizant_Koala 2024-05-30 11:15:55.904173+00
    LET'S DANCE
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