Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (PS3) Review

I've decided that instead of just gathering all three Sly Cooper games of the trilogy into one review (The Sly Collection), I will review each title individually. That way you get a better sense of what's up in each of the Sly games. Plus, I don't have a Move (nor do I want one), so I wouldn't be able to review the mini-game part of the Sly Collection anyway! The very first Sly Cooper game was the Thievius Raccoonus, a stealth-platforming game. It's my favorite of the trilogy, and it's up first here on SuperPhillip Central!

It Takes A Thief...

Sucker Punch wasn't a well-known developer until they came out with a clever character known as Sly Cooper. Nowadays, they're busy putting on the finishing touches on inFAMOUS 2. Let's not forget their first trilogy featuring some of the very same platforming used in the inFAMOUS series! It all started with a thieving raccoon named Sly Cooper. In this, his first platforming romp on the PlayStation 2, Sly Cooper aims to get back the missing pages of a book passed down from Cooper to Cooper (save for Mark Curry who played Mr. Cooper on TV's awesome sitcom, Hanging With Mr. Cooper). Is this title worth a look?

I'll answer that immediately instead of waiting till my conclusion. Why, yes, it is. When Sly Cooper was a child, a pack of villains known as the Fiendish Five beat his father up and stole various pages from the Cooper family book, the Thievius Raccoonus. Sent off to a foster home, Sly Cooper met two new friends, a high-tech geek turtle known as Bentley, and a doofus hippo known as Murray. Together, they pledged to find the missing pieces of the Cooper family heirloom, and return it to its former glory. This means trekking across the world, taking down each member of the Fiendish Five, and restoring the pages of the Thievius Raccoonus.

Sly Cooper starts out with players infiltrating a police officer's vault for the locations of each of the Fiendish Five. Enter Carmelita Fox, an officer who intensely pursues Sly like ticks on a dog. Escaping from Detective Fox's clutches, Cooper and the gang head to the first of the Fiendish Five. Each time Sly Cooper nears a hideout, he must platform through a level to reach the hideout itself. From there, Sly enters a hub full of enemies, levels, and a series of locks. This series of locks can only be opened up acquiring keys in the game's levels. Unlock the three locks, and Sly will be able to venture deeper into that member of the Fiendish Five's hideout. Now seven keys are needed.

Some enemies do not have flashlights to track Sly down with.

There's a variety of levels to be had in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. Sometimes you'll be playing a straight-up stealth-platforming level as Sly. Others are more like mini-games where you shoot crabs trying to steal treasure chests, or have Sly operating a turret from afar as Murray sneaks up on the key. The goal here is to shoot all enemies going after Murray before he gets hit. Watch your own fire though!

The Sly levels are without a doubt the most fun in the game, thankfully. Sly only has one hit until he's pulverized. By collecting 100 coins, he'll gain a silver horseshoe. This silver horseshoe will give the thieving raccoon an extra hit to work with. Collect 100 more coins, and a gold horseshoe will be acquired allowing Sly three hits to work with before he's finally subdued.

Stealth plays a big role in the Sly Cooper series. Sneaking up on enemies while hearing the bass play as Sly saunters with each footstep is a cool touch. By holding the circle button, Sly can carefully lean against walls, move around ledges, hop on the top of poles, and do a myriad of other cool stealth moves that would make Solid Snake jealous. If an enemy's flashlight crosses paths with Sly Cooper, they will alert their fellow guards or take care of Sly on their own with a machine gun or other projectile weapon.

Crawling on neon lights, just another
day on the job for Sly Cooper!

The levels are expertly designed. One has you escaping Detective Fox who shoots at you from afar. Another has you stealthily entering a ninja compound via cliffs, dodging spotlights, infrared lasers, and much more. The other two Sly Coopers focus more on a sandbox-styled gameplay while Thievius Raccoonus relies more on slightly linear levels with dangerous enemies and obstacles.

The goal of Sly's levels is to leap through the levels, dodging guards through any means necessary, to reach the key at the end of the level. Collecting keys opens up the way to one of the members of the Fiendish Five's lair where Sly will face off against them for a page of the Thievius Raccoonus. Boss battles are typically wait for the boss to finish their attack pattern, and then Sly should run up and smack them with his cane. However, some bosses deviate from this pattern. One has you hitting spotlights to shock a steroid-case bulldog into submission. Another is a game of Simon Says where pressing the right button at the right time will have Sly dodge that creature's attacks.

This boss requires you to input
the correct button press to dodge her attacks.

Beating bosses isn't the only way to acquire pages from the torn-up Thievius Raccoonus. No, no. In each Sly level there are a number of hidden message bottles. Some are in plain sight while others take more ingenuity. Nothing a clever thief can't find, right? Collecting all of the bottles in a given stage will enable Sly to open up the level's safe. Bentley, through hard will and determination, will give Sly the three digit code to open the safe. Inside is a new ability or power from making decoys of Sly to trick guards to unlocking the ability to see every hidden bottle in a given stage via Sly's first-person mode.

Other than Sly's levels, there's a plethora of different mini-games to play through. Murray will accidentally meet up with a racing gang who challenges him to a three-lap race around a track. This happens twice throughout the game. There's another game where Sly boards a hovercraft-type vehicle with turrets, and must run through the linear level without being attacked. These mini-games break up any monotony that players may feel playing through Sly's levels. Some of the games are better than others, but overall they add a decent amount of change to Sly Cooper 1.

There are five worlds in the Thievius Raccoonus as you might expect being the Fiendish Five and all. Each world begins with a detailed description of that Fiendish Five's history and past. The world is bookend by Detective Fox capturing the member of the Fiendish Five, and Sly Cooper and the gang barely escaping from her clutches.

This barrel allows Sly to pass
through this dart-infested area.

Visually, Sly Cooper 1 looks incredible in HD brought by the Sly Collection. The cel-shaded visuals are still impressive to this day though not as impressive as say a Wind Waker or Viewtiful Joe. There's also (for those of you rich sons of guns) the option for 3D if you have the equipment necessary. On the audio front, the music is sorely lacking. Really, the only cool part is when Sly saunters behind a bad guy and a bass line plays for each of his footsteps. The voice acting is quite good in its own cartoony way. Sound effects sound appropriate, and basically what else can you say? It's a tidy package that works well.

Overall, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is an excellent platformer with stealth elements. The level design is extremely tremendous with hidden secrets and pathways scattered all over the place. The music may be largely forgettable and one hit kills may be unfair to some players, but the challenge and fun of the game cannot be argued. It's there, and it's mightily impressive. A great game from a formerly unknown developer, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is an excellent game deserving of your time and money. Just don't steal a copy like Sly Cooper would.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]


Michael Janssen-Gibson said...

Just finished this game, my first platinum trophy! Maybe an indication it it a little on the easy side? :-) excellent platformer, really enjoyed everything this game has to offer - now onto game 2

Michael Janssen-Gibson said...

Love this game, just completed for a platinum (though is an indication of the easier gameplay rather than my great skill). Never get tired of the visuals, it just looks excellent.

Unknown said...

I don't recall my first Platinum. I don't really try to go after them anymore. Just builds more OCD thoughts. I think it was LittleBigPlanet.

Regardless, I thought this Platinum was a fun one. The game was engaging, and you could have a difficult time finding all the clue bottles if you wanted.