Video Game Review: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus HD [PS3]

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus HD [PS3]

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus HD
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Platform/Stealth
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Release Date: November 9, 2010 (original PS2 release: September 23, 2002)

Despite owning a Playstation 2 for most of the system’s lifespan, I missed out on a lot of its more popular titles. For one, I pretty much neglected the entire 3D platforming genre. Thankfully, Sony has been especially helpful in my quest to go back in time by releasing HD collections of all sorts of modern favorites. The first one to revisit: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus.

I was initially ambivalent to check out the Sly Cooper series simply because of its cartoonish nature — I had written it off as a kid’s game, more or less. I couldn’t have been more wrong. While the Thievius Raccoonus can be enjoyed by all ages, there is a surprising amount of depth to the gameplay that will keep everyone coming back for more.

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

In his quest to uncover his family’s “Thievius Raccoonus” book about stealing, the eponymous raccoon travels through five different areas, ranging from mountains in China to Haitian swamplands. He is aided by two trustworthy companions, the intelligent Bentley the Turtle (voiced with a poor man’s Harry Caray impression) and the dim-witted Murray the Hippo. There is also a love interest of sorts in the form of Carmelita Fox, a government agent who is actually trying to capture Sly.

Gameplay consists of a hybrid of platforming and stealth elements. Sly can be wiped out with just one hit from an enemy, so sneaking around can be crucial to level progression. Getting caught by a security camera will set off an alarm, causing any enemies nearby to swarm the area. There are ways around most security systems (helpfully shown by a dotted blue line), but it can be tricky to get by in some instances. For the most part, Sly Cooper is fairly easy, but there are occasionally frustrating moments that require expert jumping and dodging of obstacles to get anywhere. For me, there was just the right amount of challenge, but platforming pros may breeze through the campaign with minimal difficulty.

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Each locale is comprised of several levels, all of which have several clue bottles and coins scattered throughout. The coins act just as they do in Mario games — collect 100 for an extra life — but getting all of the bottles will provide Sly with bonus power-ups and features. These become especially handy in later levels, as some aid in jumping and combat. Each game world also has a handful of mini-games to spice things up, including go-kart racing and third-person shooting.

On the whole, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus offers a well-balanced campaign with fluid gameplay. I never ran into any trouble with the in-game camera — a problem I often have with the genre — and the mix of stealth/platforming is perfect. If anything, the game’s only real problem is that it is relatively short. The single player campaign can be finished in less than eight hours, though getting 100% can extend its shelf life a bit.

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

What makes Sly Cooper stand out from other like-minded platformers are its gorgeous cel-shaded graphics. The PS3’s upscaled HD rendition makes the colors even more vibrant, and the animations wouldn’t be out of place in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Adding to the attractive aesthetics are brilliant film noir-esque interludes that are perfectly in line with the game’s criminal roots.

As the first title in this highly-regarded series, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus has laid down some impressive groundwork. This bit of platforming fun was exactly what I needed to play recently, and for those looking for a diversion from today’s popular shoot ’em ups, you can’t go wrong with this. I can’t wait to play through the rest of the Sly Collection.


10 thoughts on “Video Game Review: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus HD [PS3]

  1. Morgan R. Lewis says:

    I have the first two games on the PS2, never got my hands on the third. I agree with your rating here; Sly Cooper is a great game. I love the stealth aspect to it. The fact that unlike almost every other platformer, fighting a random enemy in Sly Cooper means you screwed up big time makes for a very different game.

    My one real complaint is the go-kart levels, which were very out-of-place for the genre, and also weren’t particularly well done. But other than that, great game.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, I had a hell of a time with that first go-kart race because it took me a while to adjust to the loose controls. Once I learned the course design, I got better at it, but I agree that it could have been cleaned up a tad. Still, great game, and I can’t wait to play the other two. I hear they are even better.

      • Morgan R. Lewis says:

        I can’t speak to the third, but the second has some definite improvements (certainly no “what the hell” gameplay change levels), although I don’t think it has quite the fun of finding all the secret techniques.

        • Eric says:

          Sounds good to me, though I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed seeking out all of the clue bottles. I don’t usually try to find everything in a game, but I made an effort to get more of them in this.

  2. Gary Smith says:

    Great review Eric. I too missed out on the Sly Cooper games (but then I didn’t own a PS2, I was an Xbox/PC guy). I played this one when they made it free for Plus members, and I fully intend on finishing the game once I resubscribe to the Plus service. What I’ve played of it has certainly been great. May just pick up the physical Sly Collection at some point.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks, Gary. I was able to pick up the collection for $20 new, and if the sequels are even half as good as this one then it will be easily worth the money. Glad you enjoyed this as well.

  3. AndyWatchesMovies says:

    At the time of the first game’s release, I too dismissed it. I love the series though, had a total blast playing through the whole HD trilogy and can’t wait for the 4th game to come out, hopefully bringing new life into the series.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, I’m going to have to catch up and play through the others before the new one comes out. Seems like I picked a good time to get into the series!

  4. GregHorrorShow says:

    I started playing this on PS3 but just couldn’t get into it. More to do with what I like playing than the game itself. I’m hoping they might bring the Sly HD collection to Vita as I would probably play it on there.

    • Eric says:

      I could see that. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one nearly as much as I did, but it really hit the spot. Looking forward to playing the new one as well, which I believe is for both PS3 and Vita.

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