Newcomer Alert: Halfway Through Sly 2: Band of Thieves

Well, I’m now 49% through Sly 2: Band of Thieves and have recently started chapter 5.  I explored a nightclub in Paris and defeated its owner, Dimitri the iguana (since when are iguanas purple?), the first member of the Klaww Gang (which I’m certain bears no relation to Klaww from Jak 1…).  I braved the jungles of India to stop the tiger Rajan.  And I visited a very spooky location in Prague, the specifics of which I won’t reveal, as I don’t want to spoil any bit of the story.  Though, the events that took place at the end of episode 3 didn’t surprise me one bit, even though I’m pretty sure it was meant to be a plot twist.  I actually more or less saw it coming since one of the very first cut scenes of the game.  But, once again, if you played the game, you’ll know what I mean, and if not, I don’t want to spoil a thing for anyone who has yet to play these games.

Ahem, as this post is meant to describe my current thoughts on the game, I will start by saying…once you’ve played Sly 2, it’s kind of hard to ever return to the first game.  The original game was great, don’t get me wrong, but Sly 2 is an improvement in every possible way.  So, where can I even begin?  Well, like I mentioned in my previous post describing my initial thoughts on this game, I love that you get a lot more health and don’t have to deal with lives anymore.  That’s a huge bonus.  I also learned that you actually get to play as all three main characters, which is pretty cool.

Starting with Murray, his personality seems a bit different than I remembered, as he seemed a bit cowardly in the first game.  In fact, poor Murray really didn’t play much of a role at all in the previous game aside from a few mini games he appeared in.  Now he serves as the brawn to Bentley’s brains.  Murray is, as expected, the strongest character and is far better at kicking butt than his comrades.  He can also throw objects and push heavy levers and the like, which is useful.  Bentley is less suited for fighting (turtles, believe it or not, just don’t pack the same punch as a hippo), but he comes equipped with sleep darts that can put guards to, well, sleep, and he has bombs to blow things up, too.  It’s really fun being able to play as the other characters, though I must admit that Sly is still the best character to play as by far.  In general, just moving around is much better with him thanks to his ability to climb and spire jump and walk on ropes and all the other good stealth moves you’d expect from a wily raccoon thief.  It makes sense, as he is the main character of the game, but I do wish the other characters’ skills competed with his a bit more.  I feel rather disadvantaged sometimes when I need to get around with the other two characters.

The game is also set up a bit differently from its predecessor.  The first game started each episode with an initial level followed by a hub level with various stages you could reach from there.  These levels were all quite linear, save the hub, which you could roam about in a bit more freely, though the hubs weren’t typically that big.  Every episode of this game, on the other hand, has a huge hub that is tons of fun to explore, even if it can be easy to get lost at first thanks to the sheer scale and the winding streets and hidden passageways.  I find hunting for clue bottles to be the best way to quickly learn the layout of these places.  From the hub, you can reach different, smaller locations, each with different challenges and objectives.  Oh, and only the hubs have clue bottles.  Once you find them all, keep your eyes peeled for the safe, which can be found somewhere in the episode’s many missions.

The gameplay in this game seems a lot more interesting and varied, and the stealth aspect seems a lot more important and well developed this time around.  You can get through the game running around willy nilly, making noise and generally not watching where you’re going, but you’re going to have a much more difficult time, as well.  The regular enemies aren’t too bad, but the guards with the lights can be brutal, so you do not want to be seen by them.  You may survive, but you’ll get to watch as a large chunk of your health goes bye bye.  You can also run through spotlights and lasers if you so choose, but be prepared to get shot or singed, respectively.  No, I’d really recommend learning to be stealthy in this game, and Sly’s moves especially make this fairly easy.

That’s one thing about this game that I really love and what makes it stand out from others of its genre.  Other platformers have you roaming about freely, and while there may be obstacles, there’s rarely anything stopping you from running headlong into new locations and new challenges.  In this game, getting caught by enemies or spotlights or what have you is very damaging, and I take great pride in being able to navigate the various locations unseen.  In the end, it takes less effort being stealthy.  Stick to the rooftops, take out enemies when their backs are turned (after picking their pockets for gold and loot, of course), and even though you must move about with more care, you’ll have a far easier time getting from point A to point B.

Now that I got the main points out of the way, I want to share some specific thoughts and experiences during my gameplay thus far.  I really loved episode 4, for one thing.  I love anything spooky, and this level certainly freaked me out at first.  The smaller enemies consist of bats and wolves, and the bigger guards are big, lumbering vultures with crossbows and lanterns hanging from their necks.  Truly a frightening sight indeed.  Early on, I had a rather startling experience, as well.  I was Bentley, and I was heading for this tall, spooky building with a mysterious flashing light coming from an upper window or somewhere thereabouts whose purpose I have yet to discover….  I was spotted by a wolf and promptly started running up this rickety staircase going around the house’s perimeter, avoiding the spikes in the floor along the way.  Just when I think I’m about to reach the roof and, thus, safety, I reach a dead end.  I’m at this door, and I look back, and a whole bunch of wolves are behind me in this narrow space.  Cornered and helpless, I jump for it and manage to land on a ramp below that led to the very top of this towering structure and to freedom.  Phew.  That certainly gave me a scare.

Anyway, I’m also pleased to note that Sly 2 is more challenging and far longer than the first game, as well.  The first game took me a week, and I’m already two weeks in to this one and only halfway done.  Which is great because this game is shaping up to be pretty fantastic.  I don’t look forward to finishing it because I don’t want it to end.  Sniff.  I’ll give you guys an update in the near future.  See you later!

A Very Sly Duck