Sly 2: Band of Thieves

Developed by Sucker Punch Productions
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Released in the United States and Europe for the PlayStation 2 in 2004; released in Japan in 2005

Grand Theft Cooper seemed like a hell of an idea at the time. Inspired heavily by the open-world lessons of Grand Theft Auto III, Sly 2: Band of Thieves would receive the best reviews of any game in the original Sly Cooper trilogy. However, that consensus reflected an adoration for the mere novelty of open-world level design during the sixth generation of video games. Great platforming and great level design go hand-in-hand, whereas the purpose of open-world content is to forfeit level design and replace it with so-called “emergent systems”, allowing the player to define a “unique” game experience. Instead of reveling in a surprisingly good narrative, interesting worlds to guide the narrative, a fantastic upgrade in art design, and a combat system more complex than the one in its predecessor, you can only look at the game’s gigantic, boring overworlds and wonder if they were designed as filler, to stymie criticisms of the short game length in the predecessor. Little help comes from new playable characters Murray and Bentley, who lack both Sly Cooper’s ability to navigate overworlds and his more interesting, entertaining skill set. Sucker Punch Productions got Grand Theft Auto in what should have been one of the better PlayStation 2 platformers.

★★