Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developed by Sucker Punch Productions
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Released in 2002 for the Sony PlayStation 2

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is the true sequel to 1999’s Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Its solid platforming mechanics (carried by a nearly-rhythmic use of the action button) and simple stealth carry the show, built around a genuinely funny universe where cute and cuddly animal friends commit heinous crimes and steal from each other. So what keeps the game from ascending into “classic” territory? It’s probably one of the easiest platformers of the era, and never bothers to mix and match the interesting concepts it puts forward. And while the rules for stealth are transparent and overwhelmingly fair, it’s not particularly fun when “being spotted” often means “drop dead”, especially in a genre where you should be able to overcome most danger with deft reflexes. The game features numerous special abilities, but they’re not nearly as fun or interesting as the downright-broken special abilities present in Warped. Sly Cooper has an exceptionally difficult time standing out in a loaded era for three-dimensional platformers (Psychonauts, Ratchet and Clank), but it’s definitely something different, and it’s certainly worth somebody’s time.

★★★