Game Review - Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus on PlayStation 2

Written by JakCooperThePlumber on July 06, 2018 @ 8:22 am

Before you read this review, I think I should say that there will be major spoilers. This is an in depth analysis about everything in the game. Therefore, if you haven't played the game yet, would like to, and care about spoilers, then don't read this review.

If I were to describe Sly Cooper in two words they would be Simple Fun. Sly Cooper isn?t the longest a very long game. It?s not overly complicated regarding it?s combat mechanics. It?s not even that difficult. But Sly Cooper is one of the most fun games I?ve ever played from my childhood, and in this video I want to attempt to dissect exactly why that is. Sly Cooper and the Thievues Racconus was released in the year 2001 by Sucker Punch Productions for the Playstation 2. it was only three years off their first game, Rocket Robot on Wheels for the Nintendo 64. They made their first game for a Nintendo console, but after that they went straight over to Sony, and they claim that they?ve always loved the relationship that they have with the publisher, even though it took them until 2011 to be bought out by them.

The concept of Sly Cooper was that they wanted to create an action game where the primary character was a thief, and chose a raccoon due to how common it is for the rodents to successfully sneak into people?s houses and into their garbage, not to mention the mask which already makes them look like thieves. The story of Sly Cooper is quite cheesy, yet enjoyable. He comes from a long line of master raccoon thieves, in which the whole source of their thieving greatness is a book called the thieveus raccoonus. Sadly, on his eighth birthday, a gang of villains known as the Fiendish Five broke into his house, murdered his parents, and stole the thievieus raccoonus, splitting it up into five pieces after which splitting up. After that Sly was taken to the Happy Camper Orphanage, where he met Bentley and Murray, who would soon become his best friends and the trusted crew of his thieving Gang.

In the first game Bentley is almost solely the brains of the operation, while Murray is almost solely the driver of the getaway van. This game picks up when Sly has come of age and he and his pals set out on a journey to get revenge for his fallen parents and steal the theiveus racconus back. Cheesy storyline aside, I do think that this game is well written. This game is primarily designed for kids so I don?t think anyone would expected overly complex themes and characters, but to be fair the characters are two dimensional and likable, and each game does have a complex theme. The theme of the first game is that of revenge and jealously. Kind of standard, but it works. The obvious one is that Sly wants to get revenge on the Fiendish Five for dishonoring his family, but this theme also fits in with several of the members of the Fiendish Five too, which I?ll get to later.

The game starts with Sly infiltrating Interpol headquarters in Paris, France, to steal a file on not only Sly but on the whereabouts of the members of the Fiendish Five as well from the office of Inspector Carmelita Montoya Fox. In this brief tutorial we learn all we need to know about both the protagonists and the standard gameplay. Sly is a swav, cocky, confident guy, Bentley is extremely paranoid about their first major mission, and Murray is also scared, but considerably less so than Bentley. In terms of gameplay, Sly has a double jump and he can wack things with his cane to destroy them. He doesn?t really have an attack combo. While the player can hit things multiple times consecutively, it?s not like each subsequent attack is more powerful like you?d expect with attack combos in video games. There?s also no spring button, Sly is in permanent sprint, the only way to move slower is to lightly nudge on the walk button. This level also teaches one of Sly?s master thief moves, which is to shimmy across ledges.

Once Sly steals the file and heads out the window, he?s met by Carmelita, and we see a little bit of their interactions. Carmelita is the standard police inspector who is obsessed with catching the thief no matter what. Most people compare Sly to Lupin from the classic anime and manga series Lupin III and Carmelita to Inspector Zenigaga, however, I think it would be more accurate to say that Carmelita is a mix of both Zenigata and Fujiko Mine. She?s the obsessed cop like Zenigata, while also being the love interest like Fujiko Mine. After a short conversation, which basically just consists of Carmelita being angry and Sly teasing her for it, a brief chase ensues, after which Murray drives up with the van, Sly jumps in, and they get away. After that Sly explains everything I previously did about his Clan and the Fiendish Five, and then we get to the hideout.

In this game the hideout is just the van, simple as that. If you?re facing Bentley you can rewatch previous cutscenes, as well as some bonus videos if you unlocked them, if you turn Sly?s view you can see a map which will take you to your next objective, and if you alter his view one last time you?ll see Murray standing in front of the next map doing something humorous. The first member of the Fiendish Five is Sir. Raleigh the Frog, who lives on an uncharted island in the middle of the Welsh Triangle, which is an obvious parody of the Brimuda Triangle. Raleigh was a frog who was born in to royalty and privilege, but one day got bored of it, and decided to become a pirate, which it turned out was more to his liking, eventually becoming the inventor of the Fiendish Five.

The first mission in Raleigh?s area, The Stealthy Approach, teaches us more of Sly?s master thief moves. By jumping and pressing the circle button Sly can climb up ladders, walk along ropes, and swing on hooks. It should be mentioned that Sly in this game only takes one hit to be killed. This is one of the last games aside from Mario games to have extra lives. If you collect 100 coins, you?ll get a silver horseshoe, which will absorb the damage of an attack. Collect 100 more and you?ll get a silver horseshoe which will be the equivalent of two hits. Then collect 100 more and you?ll get an extra life, of which you can hold 99. if you have 2 horseshoes and 99 lives then you can collect up to 99 coins but they won?t turn over. You can also find horseshoes laying around randomly on occasion.

To make up for Sly?s lack of defense, almost every guard in the game only takes 1 hit as well. Raleigh?s guards consist of Walruses that throw ninja stars, walruses that hit you with hammers, walruses that bellyflop, walruses that breath fire, and squids with flashlights that shoot ink at you. Unlike the sequels it?s impossible to avoid detection from guards. They will almost always see you when you get close enough, so you?ll have to evade their attacks and take them out. The only occasional exception is the flashlight guards. If you?re extremely quick then you can sometimes hit them without them blowing their whistles and turning around, but even that?s rare. Every chapter, or episodes as they?re known as in this game, start with a cheesy title sequence--this one happens to be called Tide of Terror--and is split into several different sections.

Raleigh?s area starts out wit A Stealthy Approach, which is arguably the longest level in terms of land mass in this episode. In order to unlock more of this island, which eventually includes Raleigh?s area, you have to collect treasure keys, there?s seven in total. It?s not unlike Super Mario 64 which has you collect Power Stars to progress, or Jak & Daxter The Precursor Legacy, which just came out the previous year, which has you collect Power Cells to progress. Each area has 7 treasure keys. The first one is acquired at the end of A Stealthy Approach, which unlocks the hub world, of sorts, known as Prowling the Grounds, for this episode. This hub leads to four more levels. You can do them in any order, but I?ll be mentioning them in the order that I typically complete them in.

There?s Into the Machine, which is a standard platforming level. The highlight of this level are a couple of areas where you have to dodge spinning electrical fans. Next up is High Class Heist, arguably the shortest level in the entire game, definitely the shortest one in this episode, which provides plenty of lasers and spotlights for you to evade. There?s A Cunning Disguise, which is probably my favorite level in the game mechanically. The whole level has these blue mats placed randomly and dart guns shaped like globes next to them. If you step on them, you get shot. In order to get passed it, you have to take a barrel that?s conveniently placed at the beginning. Somehow the darts aren?t able to strike you if you?re in the barrel. Hell, even fire doesn?t hurt you.

Yeah, it doesn?t make a whole lot of sense logically, but I think it?s really fun to play, which is what?s important. This can also cause it to be the slowest level int he game as you have to remember to bring the barrel with you all the way to the end, but it is very creatively designed, and is obviously inspired by Metal Gear. The next level is Fire Down Below, which is also the most out of the way level; I?ve lost count how many times I?ve seen first time players miss this level entirely. This has one of my favorite designs of any level, I love the idea of traversing through what is essentially a boiler room to steal a treasure key. After that you can use the keys that you have to unlock the rest of the hub by inserting them into a nearby electrical generator, which will turn off the electricity, and then whack it one time with your cane.

The next level, The Gunboat Graveyard, has another one of my favorite designs, you have to traverse a whole bunch of docked and fucked up ships, climbing up, down, and around to get to the treasure key. And the final level, Treasure in the Depths, is the only one in the first episode that isn?t a platforming and combat challenge. Instead you have to man a submarine, travel deep under the water, and destroy 40 treasure chests. This is my first major complaint about the game. This mission, even by the logic of the game?s world, makes no sense at all. Apparently Raleigh?s gang of craps want the treasure key, for some reason. Whatever, I?m fine with that, but would make more sense if you had to kill a certain number of them to get the key.

However, you don?t, you have to destroy 40 treasure chests, preventing the craps from stealing even one. I?m completely lost as to what these two things have to do with each other. Not to mention, the key is visible during the entirety of the mission. What is preventing Sly from stealing the key right from under their noses and then escaping? I don?t like this concept one bit. Then there?s the difficulty. This is one of the few parts of the game that can be quite challenging for firs timers, even if they aren?t kids. However, that?s not necessarily a complaint. I struggled with it way too much when I was a kid, but now I don?t think it?s nearly as bad, and I do think it?s kind of fun, I just wish it was better designed thematically. After that is the level Eye of the Storm, which is where you fight the boss, Raleigh.

Raleigh?s personality isn?t that interesting and he isn?t sympathetic but he is entertaining, and it works for the first boss of the game. Basically, if you were paying attention during the opening cutscene of this episode, then he?s exactly how you picture him. Stuck up, snobby, privileged, arrogant and just all around unbelievably unlikable. His boss fight is pretty simple, but fun, and I remember struggling with it when I was a kid. The fight works in a pattern. He?ll grow gigantic by eating a fly, during which time you can?t deal damage to him. After he?s done jumping around, he?ll shrink, and you?ll have to whack him quickly before he jumps back. The during the first round you can just run around on the one platform that you enter on.

During the second round you?ll have to jump across them, as every one that he lands on will briefly sink, making it more difficult for you to get to him in time when he shrinks. During the third round all of the others will sink while the one that you?re on will remain above water. And during the fourth and final round he changes up his attack pattern. This time, he?ll stick his tongue out and spin around. Having the slow motion jumps at this time will make it easier to jump over his tongue. After that he?ll be defeated and let you know the location of the next member of the Fiendish Five. Overall, in terms of a beginning chapter for the game, it?s pretty damn good. I love how it looks. Each level has a radiance that was almost unheard of at the time considering that it was still rather early in the Playstation 2?s lifespan.

I also hove how ambient and serene the music sounds, it gets me in the perfect mood to play. After you defeat Raleigh, you?ll travel to Mesa City to take on Muggshot in the second episode called Sunset Snake Eyes. Muggshot is the gangster and ruthless muscle for the Fiendish Five. Unlike Raleigh, Muggshot has a much more sympathetic backstory, which has become quite common in the Sly Cooper series. When he was a child he was incredibly weak and he got bullied all the time. After absorbing himself in gangster movies he realized what his true calling was, after which spending years tirelessly building up his muscles. When he was done he got revenge on the bullies who tormented him as a kid, and was soon inducted into the Fiendish Five as their enforcer.

He?s held up in Mesa City, Utah, which is the obligatory desert location of the game. Visually this is probably my least favorite area in the game. I just never liked the look of deserts in games, they?re just so bland and uninteresting. There are a few individual levels that are the exception to the rule, but overall I?m just unimpressed with the visage of this area, and I crack that entirely down to the fact that it?s a desert level. However, musically it?s one of my favorite. I?m not a big fan of country music in terms of listening separately, but there are some country, or perhaps southern, tunes that I do enjoy hearing in games, and Mesa City has those. Some tunes go full on country, whereas some, such as in Two to Tango, go for more of a southern rock, both of which being welcome additions to the soundtrack.

The first level is A Rocky Start. Not much to say about this one, most of it is kind of boring to me, by proxy of it being a desert level, with the exception of a small area where Sly has to traverse the inside of destroyed and sunken trains, which is pretty cool. Once this level is completed Sly will come to the second hub of the game, titled Muggshot?s Turf, which, like before, will lead to all of the other levels. Also, like Raleigh?s area, the hub is split into two sections, the second one being unlocked later. Muggshot?s guards include Bulldogs on chains, pit bulls with two by fours to hit with, Basset Hounds which swing ball and chains, Dalmations which throw playing cards, and doberman pinschers which wield flashlights and machine guns. You can do these first three levels in any order.

There?s At the Dog Track which is a level I hate. It?s one of two racing missions in the game, with some of the worst physics and a painfully slow vehicle to race with. I?m sure there?s somebody out there who enjoys this, but I?ve never encountered them, it?s just a pain in the ass. First there?s the issue of the fact that racing has nothing to do with stealth and platforming, which is what Sly Cooper is supposed to be all about. However, as far as racing missions go, it?s still terrible because the team van handles like absolute shit, it?s way too slow, and it slides all over the track and flips at the tiniest nudge and bump. It?s just not very well designed at all. Then there?s Boneyard Casino, which is the first level in this area that I truly love. It?s a really long mission where you have to traverse Muggshot?s casino, bypassing all sorts of slot machines.

There?s even a part where you have to jump on electrified platforms that are floating in a part of the casino that looks like it flooded. It doesn?t make a whole lot of sense, but it still looks cool. I just love how when you?re jumping on the roulette wheels it gets progressively harder. First they?re moving clockwise with no hazards, then they start moving counter clockwise and hazards like lasers and electricity are included. It?s extremely simple and basic progression, but it nevertheless makes the platforming fun. I also love the ending where you have to jump on a giant roulette wheel and then land on the green spaces to unlock the key. After that there?s Murray?s Big Gamble, which is an enjoyable enough mission. It of course has the flaw of having nothing to do with the main game, as this is a first person shooter, but I still enjoy it.

The really cool part is that it?s the first time that Murray, aside form in the racing mini-game, gets out in the field. Although he?s not alone as Sly as to defend him with the turret?I guess Murray hasn?t built up the strength yet that he has in Sly 2, 3, and 4?but it?s still cool to see him out in the field. Another cool thing about this is that if you have one or two horseshoes, those will be transferred over to Murray. Of course the downside to this is that if he losses one, so do you. One part I hate about this mission is that you can shoot Murray if you?re not careful. I always despise friendly fire in games. Once you unlock the rest of the hub you can go to Two to Tango. This level is cool because it?s the first time aside from the prologue when you?ll meet Carmelita, who will chase you throughout most of the level.

There?s a small section in the middle when she?ll loose track of you, but other than that it?s a pretty fast paced, action packed, and FUN level, where Carmelita chases Sly across the rooftops of Mesa City. It?s enjoyable from a gameplay perspective, but from a story perspective it?s also nice because it reminds us that Carmelita still exists and that she is a cop who is continuously searching for Sly. After that there?s Straight to the Top. This level is interesting because it?s one of the few where you can see the key literally from the very beginning. It?s the tallest level in the game, you essentially must traverse to the top and then drop a wrecking ball down to the glass that?s holding the key. And the last level is Back Alley Heist. This level is cool because it tries to emulate, or perhaps homage, classic 2D platformers in its design with the way that the camera is angled.

After that you get to the boss fight level, titled Last Call. Before the fight you learn from the dialogue that with Muggshot?s incredible strength, he?s definitely lacking in intelligence, proved by not being able to pronounce thieveus raccoonus, and supposedly not understanding a lot of the big words used in the book. The boss fight itself is one of the most unique in the game. It doesn?t make a whole lot of logical sense, but it is a lot of fun. You aren?t able to harm Muggshot with your cane because he?s too damn strong, so instead you have to wack the nearby mirrors. This will face them towards the nearby crystals. Once you do it to all of them, it?ll somehow aim light towards Muggshot, burning him and destroying his guns. Yeah, you couldn?t ask me how this is supposed to work.

After that both Sly and Muggshot will use elevators to reach the second level, and you?ll have to do the same. This time it?s more difficult because there are a few pit drops that you?ll have to avoid. I find that using either the slow motion jumps or the roll technique can sometimes make it easier to dodge Muggshot?s machine gun shots. Once this one is done, they?ll head to the very top. I like the third and final stage of this fight because, unlike the previous two, Sly has to use the ninja spire jump, an ability that he learned after he defeated Raleigh, in order to traverse to each of the mirrors. It should also be mentioned that if Muggshot shoots a mirror, he?ll flip it back around. This is especially important here, because you?ll have to time your jumps and your cane wack perfectly so Muggshot doesn?t flip the mirrors back around or shoot you off of the chandelier.

Once you defeat Muggshot you?ll obtain his section of the thieveus raccoonus, and he?ll let you know where the next member of the Fiendish Five, Mz. Ruby, is located, the jungles and swamps of Haiti. This episode has my favorite music in the entire game, and possibly the entire series as well, it?s just so ominous and creepy. Not only does that fit perfectly, but it?s also just a joy to listen to. I love things that are scary. Of course when I was a kid this episode terrified the shit out of my and I hated playing it, but over the years I?ve grown to love it more and more. The guard row call includes water rats which wield flashlights and fire magic blasts, mosquitos that fly around and suck the life out of you, spiders which string down in front of you on their webs at pure random, ghost rats which are usually created with ghost generators, fire turtles which throw their flaming heads at you and then regenerate a new head, and strange swamp monsters.

The last one are the only guards in the game which requires more than one hit to kill. The first hit splits it into two, and then you have to hit the body and the head separately. There?s also Bomb Toting Roosters and The Beast, but those are mission-specific guards. The first level is The Dread Swamp Path. It?s a nice start to the episode, you basically just have to traverse through the treacherous, dark, murky swamp and forest, all the while taking care of enemies and using the Rail Slide and Rail Walk ability which you learned from Muggshot?s section of the thieveus raccoonus. After that you unlock the hub, which is called The Swamp?s Dark Center. The next level is The Lair of the Beast. This level is unique because, while it seems like a normal level at first, once you get halfway through it you?ll disturb a gigantic sea monster.

You?ll then have to spend time running away from it, all the while attempting to collect clues as you go. The clues in this section can be kind of tricky because you first have to locate each one, and react quickly enough to get it, because you can?t stop and take your time, you have to keep constantly moving as fast as you can. There?s a glitch in a certain part of the swamp here where if you fall in you?ll be launched far ahead of the beast, but I don?t remember where it?s at. The next level is A Grave Undertaking. This is the first time that we see the ghost generators. It doesn?t make any sense that a piece of technology could generate ghosts, but it works as a gameplay mechanic as you have to destroy the ghost generators in order to keep the ghosts from coming out.

This is probably one of the largest levels in the entire game. There?s a part at the end that I always remember being difficult where you have to walk on the vines and avoid the ghosts, but there?s three ghost generators constantly spewing ghosts on the ledge that you?re heading towards. I recommend collecting 1 or 2 horseshoes beforehand. The next level is Piranha Lake. It should be noted that Vicious Voodoo has the most mini-game missions int he entire game aside form the final episode which is structured differently anyways, and this is the first of them. I?ve also never liked it. The key is locked behind a gate. To unlock it you have to light all 40 torches using a swamp skiff, and in order to find fuel for the machine you have to run over piranhas. Oh, and there?s a time limit.

Yeah, it?s incredibly stupid, not to mention frustrating and just not fun at all. It takes me forever to complete it. No matter how fast I go, I always seem to be just 1 second too late. It doesn?t seem like they put much thought in this. Personally I don?t have a gigantic issue with games straying from the core gameplay, so long as it?s well thought out, interesting, and fun. I think when people start complaining when games stray from their core gameplay is when it?s something incredibly generic, boring, and frustrating, and sadly Piranha Lake falls into this category. The next level is Descent Into Danger. This is one of my favorites, because of how large and wide the level is, and because you have to keep climbing up, down, and around. It?s undoubtedly one of the best levels in the game for both platforming and stealth.

The end of the level is also cool because Sly breaks a tiki candle causing a rail to appear which will take Sly on a quick tour through the entire level that he just finished traveling through until he reaches the treasure key. The next mission is A Ghastly Voyage. This is an example of a mission which does stray away from the core gameplay, but is so much fun to play that I?m able to forgive it. Basically it?s the opposite of Piranha Lake. You take control of this strange vehicle which has a gun on the front and you must traverse the forest and swamp. I like it for 2 reasons. First, the vehicle is just fun to control. You can shoot in four directions, to the point that you can even constantly shoot while spinning, and you can also shoot in one direction while moving in another.

I also love the different stages that this level enters. It starts on some sort of bridge or dock, but you very quickly go to a boat. While it?s moving, ghosts will appear on it at random, and there will occasionally appear flaming turtles on shore that will chuck their heads at you. Once the ship stops you?ll come to several giant rooms filled with torches and ghosts, and after that you?ll enter a long, narrow, winding walkway which will lead you to the final room which will possess the treasure key. The one annoying thing about this level is that, due to all the small hills and slants, it can be a pain in the ass to hit the ghosts. If you?re even the tiniest bit above them on a slant, you will shoot right over them, and it?s very likely that they?ll end up hitting you.

That?s only a minor complaint however, and the rest of the level is fantastic. And the final level before the boss fight is Down Home Cooking. This is arguably my least favorite of the normal missions in this game. I?m not sure what I hate more, Down Home Cooking or Piranha Lake, but they?re both pretty bad. In this level, Bentley gets a call from a ghost. This ghost informs Bentley that he wants to make a big pot of gumbo, but he?s scared of the bomb totin roosters. If we can help, he?ll give us the treasure key. Okay, so the plot behind the mission is pretty damn stupid, we got that out of the way. Why would an enemy contact Bentley, how does a ghost use a phone, how does a ghost eat gumbo, and why in the fuck would a ghost be afraid of something.

Lots of questions that we never get answers to. However, this could obviously be forgiven if it was fun to play, but it just isn?t, or at least not to me. It?s such a pain in the ass to whack chickens, swerve around the many pots that lay around on the floor, and avoid the roosters. I?m not complaining because it?s difficult, challenge is fine, I?m complaining because this always takes me forever to complete, I just keep dying and dying and dying, and I don?t feel any gratification when I complete it, I?m just glad it?s over, there?s a difference between the two. And finally we get to the boss fight, A Deadly Dance, and I shit you not, this is my least favorite part of not only this game, but arguably the entire series too. First, Mz. Ruby has an annoying ass voice, and she speaks way too slow, too. However, I like her design.

I also think that her boss fight is quite unique, but it?s my least favorite boss fight in any video game because of how needlessly frustrating that it is. However, this has two sides to it. If you?re skilled with rhythm games, then you?ll probably do well here, and even enjoy it. I, however, am not that person at all. I love this game, but whenever I replay it, despite a few other missions that I?m not a big fan of, this is always the one that I dread to play again, I can?t stand it. I always hate missions that have to do with absolutely perfect timing, because my timing sucks. If you loose enough they?ll actually begin to spawn horseshoes and even extra lives for you, and I?m not sure how to feel about that. On one hand, I?m glad because I just want the damn fight to be done, after hours upon hours upon hours of attempting it and failing, but on the other hand I don?t know how I should feel about the game pitying my poor gameplay.

Regardless, I?m sure there?s people out there who like this fight, but I can?t stand it, it?s my least favorite part of the entire series. Once you beat Mz. Ruby she?ll give you the location of the next member of the Fiendish Five, the Panda King, whose held some place in China. The episode is called Fire in the Sky. This is the trademark snow level of the game, and as such it?s pretty cool. Lots of whites and blues that blend together very well. I always love running around in snow levels in the game, it just gives me joy. Before I move on to the levels I want to mention that when the game was originally conceived this was going to be Episode 1 and the Welsh Triangle was going to be episode 4, but they swapped them later on. I?m not entirely sure why, but I heard that it was because they felt this episode was too difficult to be episode 1.

This will be more relevant later on. Anyways, the guards of this level are blue mandrills which wield planks of wood, tall, brown apes which roll their children at you encasing them in snow, apes with a sword in one hand and a flashlight dangling around their necks, female chimpanzees that know martial arts, and brown monkeys with red top hats that wield nunchucks. The first level is called A Perilous Ascent. Most of it is pretty standard as far as first levels in this game goes, but there are some parts that stand out. I really like the monkeys that roll their kids at you. It?s cool how rolling them turns them into a small snowball, and it can be relatively challenging to avoid them. Especially the second one. Most of them you can evade and jump around without killing them if you?re careful, but with the second one, for some reason, I almost always get hit by it.

There?s also a bridge and some ledges you have to walk on a little way into the level in which you can see the beginning of the level and the team van, which is a nice perspective. There?s also a couple places in the level where you have to wack fireworks in order to open up more of the path. I like game mechanics where you have to take advantage of the environment, and fireworks makes sense considering the backstory of the villain. I?m also a fan of the end of the level where you have to sneak passed many guards without anything to hide behind to get to the key, and then head back. You can of course kill the guards, but if you?re not perfectly careful then they?ll blow their whistle and the rest of the guards will head in your direction. After that you unlock the main hub, titled Inside the Stronghold.

The next level is Flaming Temple of Flame. This is stated by Bentley to be the training ground for the Panda King?s guards. The highlight is about midway through when you come to a large room with the nunchuck monkeys practicing on top of these tall poles. These guards are interesting because they can?t hurt you unless you intentionally jump into their nunchucks, they don?t pay any mind to your intrusion. You can also kill them too, but you have to jump at the right spots and time your cane whacks perfectly. The next level is The King of the Hill. This is similar to Murray?s Big Gamble from Sunset Snake Eyes; Murray makes a run for the treasure key, and Sly has to defend him using the turret. It?s basically the same except for two things.

First, there?s no random explosive barrels placed around the level. And secondly, at the end Murray trips an alarm, causing many flashlight guards to appear at once. Sly has to defeat all of them before Murray can acquire the key. That?s a cool twist. The next level is the Unseen Foe. This is the first level in the game where you have to use the invisibility technique, which you learned after defeating Mz. Ruby. In fact, it?s the only time in the entire episode where it?s required, unlike the ninja spire jump and rail walk/slide moves, which were both required at many points in episodes 2 and 3 respectively. This is also probably the tallest and widest level in the episode, and possibly in the game. You travel through it a little ways straight, then climb up and after that go straight backward, climb up some more, and keep repeating that until you get to the final pagoda, after which you fall all the way down until you see the key.

Bentley also informs you that this pagoda is probably where the Panda King is producing the explosives that he uses to bury villages in snow when they refuse to pay their protection fees. The next level is A Desperate Race, which is another level I hate because it?s an awful race. Every complaint that I mentioned for the race in episode 2 is relevant here. It?s not quite as bad, because while the icy patches can screw you p, I?ve also found ways to use them to my advantage. If uses correctly then they can allow you to not only speed up slightly, but also cut off the other racers and ram them into the walls. Still, while it?s not as bad as the previous race, I still don?t like it. The next level is Rapid Fire Assault. This is similar to A Ghastly Voyage from episode 3, and like that one I do enjoy this mission.

It deviates from the standard gameplay, while still being enjoyable to play. I don?t like it as much as the previous, but that?s mainly because of one section filled with tones of monkeys that keep respawning and how frustrating that it is to destroy their respawn points. But it?s still fun, though. And the final main level is Duel by the Dragon. Similar to Two to Tango from episode 2, this is a level where Carmelita locates you and chases you throughout. It?s nice because it gives us more humorous banter between Sly and Carmelita and gives you more to do when traversing the level other than just standard platforming and searching for clue bottles. I also like the end of the level, where you have to strike several rockets in order for Carmelita to be dealt with and for you to find the treasure key.

After that you can move onto the fight with the Panda King, titled Flame Fu. In terms of the quality, I?m conflicted. In a way, I?m glad that this is more of a standard boss fight rather than a strange mini-game. Don?t get me wrong, the mini-games could be kind of creative and even fun, especially regarding Muggshot?s fight, but I like that this one is more straight forward. And it is kind of fun, too. However, the fight itself is way too easy. I know I bitched last episode about how frustrating that Mz. Ruby is, but the Panda King is the complete opposite. Earlier I said that Sucker Punch swapped episode 1 and episode 4 because they felt that episode 4 for some reason, and this is the only time when I feel that. This definitely seems like a first boss fight, not a fourth boss fight.

I like that the Panda King doesn?t use any dirty tricks and that he just fights you outright, because that fits more with his honorable personality, but I still wish it was a bit more challenging. The only thing easier in the series is when you fight him for a second time in Sly 3, and that?s just easier by default because you have a health bar in the at game. Regardless, once you defeat him he tells Bentley informs you of the final member of the Fiendish Five, Clockwerk, whose located at the Krakarov Volcano, an active volcano in Russia. The episode is called The Cold Heart of Hate. This episode works different than the previous four. It?s much more liner this time. While I can?t honestly say that the game in general is non liner, the previous four episodes were still more liner than this one.

Once the episode begins you immediately start the first mission, like before, but once it ends you immediately go to the next one. There?s no main hub this time around. I guess it makes sense though as Clockwerk is much smarter than the other members and probably knew Sly?s exact location the moment that he entered the his lair. The first level is called A Hazardous Path. Sly and the Gang travel in the van through the perilous road of the volcano, which is heavily guarded by both Clockwerk?s Death Ray and Robo Falcons. Sly has to use the Cooper Van?s turret to shoot down the robo falcons and rocks that fall down the mountain until they reach the end. After that comes my second least favorite mission in the entire game, behind only A Deadly Dance, Burning Rubber.

It?s the third and final vehicle mission in the game. In order for the gang to continue, Bentley has to analyze the information in at least 60 of the 119 of Clockwerk?s computers that are suspended in the air. Murray must run over 60 of them with the team van, which somehow constitutes collecting them I guess. However, Clockwerk?s Fire Slugs, which are the only other guards in the episode by the way, are attempting to do the same, so it?s a race against time. This mission is so frustrating, so irritating, and I just hate it. I almost despite it as much as as Mz. Ruby?s boss fight, it?s that damn bad. No matter how hard I try, it always seems like I end up failing by just one fucking computer. Of course, there has to be at least one mission that I hate in every episode except for the first.

No seriously, episode 2 had the first race, episode 3 had Mz. Ruby, episode 4 had the second race, and episode 5 has this. The next level is A Daring Rescue. After defeating the Fire Slugs, Sly discovers that Inspector Carmelita Fox has been captured by Clockwerk and put in a containment unit inside of a special chamber. Man, she must really be dedicated to her work, what with entering a fucking active volcano to capture Sly and Clockwerk. Anyways, Sly must avoid Clockwerk?s security system and save Carmelita. First he has to make his way top, all the while avoiding spotlights and not falling in lava, collect a barrel, and then go back down to the bottom. The barrel is needed to get passed the spotlights and arrow launchers. Once Sly gets in the same chamber as Carmelita Clcokwerk unleashes some sleeping gas which causes him to pass out.

This leads into the next mission, Bentley Comes Through. This one I?m split on. In one sense I like it because it?s unique. This is the first and only time that you play as Bentley in the game, and it?s a hacking minigame. Bentley has to hack in order to free Sly and Carmelita. However, to me I find it to be kind of frustrating at times, but it can also be fun, too. It?s one of those missions?in fact, it might be the only one in this game?but I think that they vastly improved on the hacking in the sequels. The next mission is A Temporary Truce, which is one of my favorite missions in the game. Not only does it feature Sly and Carmelita working together finally, which has become a trend in each of the games, but you also get to PLAY as Carmelita. A robo falcon steals Sly?s cane.

Carmelita shoots it down, and then has to cover Sly as he makes a run for his cane. I think it?s a lot of fun. Both robo falcons and lava slugs fill come after him. There?s even a point when Carmelita has to destroy blockades while Sly?s still being attacked, it gets really tense, but it?s a lot of fun. This leads into the next mission, Sinking Peril. Carmelita?s jetpack is at the top of the death ray, but her shooting destroyed the magnatronic support field for the gigantic machine, which is causing it to sink. Sly must climb to the top, lots of his acquired abilities to do so, before he sinks into the lava. Once he does, he?ll acquire Carmelita?s jetpack. And that leads into the final mission in the level and the game, A Strange Reunion, which is where you fight Clockwerk.

The fight goes back to Raleigh and Muggshot in the sense that it?s simple and not overly difficult, but is still challenging, and is a lot of fun. It?s also the longest fight in the game, because it has three phases, and with each phase Clockwerk?s health fully regenerates. During the first phase Clockwerk will fire several plasma blasts in a row; dodge them by moving to the side, then shoot the spot on Clockwrek?s body that Carmelita shoots. Whenever Carmelita strikes him, you must shoot his head, feet, tail, and right wing, in t hat order. The pattern repeats if you don?t do enough damage. The next stage of the fight has you dodging electrical rings by flying through them. Pay attention to which launcher, left center or right, they are fired from,t hen move to that third of the screen.

After each volley, Carmelita will strike him, allowing you to shoot the vulnerable part of Clockwrk?s body as highlighted by the electricity. The left wing, right wing near the body, head, and right wing near the tip must be shot. After that you abandon the jetpack and land on the floating debris while Clockwerk is attempting to regenerate himself. Jump from one piece of debris to the next, avoiding Clockwerk?s attacks, which can somehow go through objects, and the security. Rail walk, ninja spire jump, and pole climb across the lava pool, dodging lasers and spotlights. When it comes to the spotlights you can use the walking invisibility technique, if you have it, but it?s completely optional. Once you get to Clockwerk?s back, use your can to relentlessly attack his head until you take out his entire health bar.

Be careful, because he can bump you into the lava if you?re too close. It should also be noted that if you die on any stage than you have to redo the entire fight, which does amp up the challenge a bit. Once he?s defeated you acquire the rest of the thieveus raccoonus, although you strangely don?t learn any new abilities like you did with the previous four episodes, but regardless, that?s the end of the game. Or the story, anyways. Overall, it?s absolutely fantastic. It has its pitfalls, such as all three of the races, Piranha Lake, and the fight with Mz. Ruby, but it?s overall an amazing classic that Sucker Punch did an outstanding job on. I?ve played it countless times over the years, and it never gets old. However, I?m not done am I. there?s plenty of side content in the game, which I also want to discuss.

The first is the clue bottles. Clue bottles and a vault exists in 19 of the levels in the game?that?s all of the levels that aren?t a mini-game of course. Each level has a different number of clue bottles, either 20, 25, 30, or 40. Once you collect them all, you have to find the vault, which is sometimes at the very end of the level, sometimes at the very beginning, and sometimes hidden within. The vault will usually possess a new ability for Sly to use. You obtain the abilities in the same order regardless of which order that you open the vaults in. You get the Fast Attack Dive move, which allows you to dive fast towards enemies, as well as an extension to it later on which allows you to dive downward. The second one also allows you to collect coins without touching them.

You get the Fast Getaway Raccoon Roll which allows you to roll at great speeds. Later on you?ll get an add on to it which electrifies the ball allowing you to kill enemies. You get Slow Motion Jumps which allows you to slow down time while jumping, and later on Perpetual Slow Motion which allows you to slow down time whenever you want. You get the Mine, which allows you to throw your hat and explode it. This is the worst item in the game, it?s useless because it?s hard to direct where it?s going to land, and the explosion is so damn small. You get the Water Safety technique, which allows you to not die when falling into water. You get the Speed Up The Clock ability, which is the opposite of slow, it allows you to speed up time around Sly whenever you want.

You get the Decoy ability, which allows you to confuse enemies into attacking a cardboard cutout. This is another terrible ability, no matter what I can never seem to confuse the enemy, the guards just completely ignore it and come straight for me. You get defy gravity, which allows you top out of all of the bottomless pits int he game. You also get an ability to walk while invisible, an expansion to the ability to turn invisible that you got for defeating Mz. Ruby, although you can only walk very slowly. And you get Stun, which allows you to briefly, for a few seconds, stop time entirely. This is another ability that?s useless for one specific reason. First, it only lasts a few seconds, and Sly stops when he unleashes it, so it doesn?t give you much time at all.

What?s worse is that, even if it was useful, you aren?t able to get it until you beat the game, so there?s no point. Aside from the abilities, one vault in each episode will contain the blueprints to that member?s operations. Once you acquire it, you?ll be able to see the locations of nearby clue bottles and breakable objects through your binocucom. The clues themselves are a nice addition to give you something to do, but that?s about it. In Sly 2 and Sly 4 the clues serve the alternate purpose of giving you reason to explore each level. This game, however, is more liner, so that isn?t needed. In terms of the abilities, some of them can be useful, such as slow motion to help you evade attacks, fast motion just to get through levels quicker, and the roll, but most of them are filler, it?s one of the few areas in the game that isn?t very impressive.

Once you open up a vault in a level you unlock the master thief sprint of that level. This means that there?s 19 of them as well. I?ve never been a fan of these myself, but I do understand why they exist. It?s to provide more challenge for more experienced gamers, and I don?t see anything in them that?s particularly poorly designed. They basically give you a bullshit time to get to the end of the level. It?s recommended to cut corners whenever you can. Also there are times that you can use the roll ability to pick up speed, but you have to be careful. The roll will loose momentum when you hit even the tiniest bump, which will slow you way down and make it impossible to win the sprint. Also, if you get caught by lasers and spotlights then the time will speed up until you destroy the alarm, and by the time you get to it way too much time would have probably been lost.

Thankfully there are a few levels that have major shortcuts. There?s a couple in A Cunning Disguise. First bypass the barrel, jump off of the elevator before it goes down and land on the book case, after which traversing the chandeliers. After that you can go to the end of the level. Regarding the last blue mat with arrow launchers, it might be good to have a horseshoe so you can take a hit. The issue is, when you activate the sprint, all your horseshoes are taken away. What I recommend is to have close to 100 coins before you start the sprint, so you can acquire the rest during the sprint. The only other way to get passed that last mat without the barrel is to walk on that tiny, wooden ledge, but that?s extremely difficult to do.

The next shortcut is in Fire Down Below. Get to the second wheel you have to run on, but instead of going for the hook, jump on top of the machinery and get to the top that way instead of going the long way around. The next short cut is in Gunboat Graveyard. Go passed the first patch of water and climb on top of the first platform pillar. Stand on the small wooden edge. It?s really tricky to do. As you do, the boats will be swaying back and fourth. When the boat on the other end of the black gate is closest to you, then jump over and try to land on one of the floating platforms on the other end. The next level that has a shortcut is Straight to the Top. To use the first shortcut walk up to the glass case that had the key and turn to the right of it.

Keep walking until you come to a tv antenna sticking out of the roof, jump on top of it, and latch onto one of the green neon pipes. To use the second shortcut continue until you get to the first black metallic bridge but don?t walk on it. Instead, turn around, jump on the only antenna in sight, jump up on the next ledge, then turn around again, and double jump over to a pipe above the first metallic bridge. The next level with a shortcut is Back Alley Heist. Go to the second area that has the machines that you can jump on that drop away. Time your last double jump perfectly and you should be able to jump through the window, saving you a little bit of time. The next shortcut is in the level Lair of the Beast. This is unique because it?s actually a glitch, and I?m not sure if it?s in the PS3 collection or not.

Furthermore, I don?t remember exactly where it takes place. However, when you?re being chased by the beast, if you stand in a certain spot, I think it?s by the vines that go down in a spiral but I could be wrong, and you fall in the water, a glitch will take place where you?ll not only jump out of the water like normal, but you?ll also be rocketed forward, saving some time. This also means that you either have to have the water safety ability, or have at least one horseshoe, or you?ll die. The next shortcut is in the level Descent Into Danger. Go to where the second flashlight guard is, it?s not very far in, jump up to him, kill him, and then jump on the wood that?s right behind him. If you time the jumps correctly without falling off then you should be able to jump to the higher area, bypassing the entire first part of the level.

And that?s all the shortcuts, there?s none that I?m aware of in Fire in the Sky. Overall, I think the Master Thief Sprints were a good addition to the game. They add just enough frustration to make you want to work harder to complete them, without adding too much frustration to where you want to quit playing, and plus they?re good for more experienced gamers. Sly Cooper has several bonus videos which makes 100% completion seem more worth it. When you complete the main story and open up all of the vaults you?ll be able to watch the Japanese opening cutscene of the game. It?s very anime esque in a lot of ways. It has similarities to the original, while still possessing some differences in terms of both visuals and dialogue.

Then, once you complete all of the Master Thief Sprints, you?ll not only be able to watch some old humorous commercials for the game, but you can also watch a lengthy behind the scenes movie for the game. I always love being able to watch game developers talk about the development process of said games, so that?s really cool. I guess the only thing left for me to talk about is what I think is better, the original Playstation 2 version or the Playstation 3 remaster. Well, both are great, and if you don?t have a PS2 or a backwards combatable PS3 then the collection is still worth buying. However, as for just the first game, I think the PS2 is the definitive version, for a couple reasons. First of all, there?s the boss fight with Mz. Ruby. While it?s frustrating in the PS2 version, it?s even worse in the PS3 version because the music is out of sync with her movements, which makes it even harder to complete.

And the second reason is because they removed part of the bonus content. In the original, when you complete a Master Thief Sprint, you will then unlock the designers commentary. With this, you can re-enter the level, and listen to a few of the developers talk about the level in question for a little while. However, this was removed in the PS3 version, and I can?t for the life of me understand why. The only thing I can possibly think of is that Sanzaru wanted to release the collection for both the PS3 and PS VITA, so they had to remove the data for the commentaries in order to have room in the VITA version. What makes me think that is that it?s well known that they wanted to include an additional episode in Sly 4, ancient Egypt, but that wouldn?t fit on the VITA version, so instead they had to cut it and relegate it to a bonus cutscene at the end of the game.

That?s best I can rationalize it, but it?s still stupid. Instead of just releasing the PS3 version, release it on a porable too and make it an inferior product. Like I said before, the collection is still good, but those couple of flaws makes the PS2 version, in my honest opinion, the definitive version of the game. The graphics are better in the PS3 version, sure, but that doesn?t mean much when there?s a couple of grave flaws in it, and the graphics in the PS2 version are still fantastic, especially for their time. Overall, this is an amazing game, one of the best games that the PS2 has to offer. It?s challenging in places without being too frustrating in most cases, it?s incredibly fun, it?s short and sweet, and the characters are all endearing, even generic villains like Clockwerk and Raleigh are still a lot of fun. However, it only got better when they made the sequel.

Overall Rating: 7

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Game Information

Platform
PlayStation 2
Developer(s)
Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher(s)
Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre(s)
Action-Adventure
NA Release Date
September 23, 2002
MVGL User Score
7.7
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