Developer – Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment
The Sly Cooper series first appeared in 2002 on the PlayStation 2; around the time when Sony started to find much greater success with developing 3D platforming games than they had done previously with the original PlayStation; having released games such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank. Whilst sales of the game were pretty poor during the time of its release, the game has become a cult classic among gamers and has warranted the development of three sequels. Though I don’t believe the first to be the best (Indeed, I believe that honour goes to Sly 2: Band of thieves), I don’t think it’s a terrible game; it just needed an extra push, and I think the developers saved that for the sequel.
Graphics – 8/10
Relating to Week 4’s unique article, Sly Cooper was released at a time when cel-shading was first being established as a popular form of visual representation in video games; so consequently, this game was always going to stand out. At the time, it was an extremely significant change from the norm, and it also made for a number of compelling level designs as well as character designs. Although some of the bosses look a little bit bland, the last boss in particular was very well designed, and the main character cast equally so. Looking at some of the levels, which are set on rooftops, it’s also plain to see where the developers took inspiration from when they were creating InFamous. Though this would become even more evident in the sequel and onwards, the opening level of the first game alone is enough for players to make this assumption.
Gameplay – 5.5/10
Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus is a 3D platforming game with stealth elements reminiscent of games like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. But even with this somewhat unique aspect of gameplay, I still felt playing it left a lot to be desired. There are so little side quests that completing the game to 100% can simply be done as the player goes along as normal, and there’s not much call for re-visiting levels, save for completing the time trial challenges. In this respect, it reminds me a lot of the third Crash Bandicoot game, Warped; only with less content and fewer side quests. There is a bit of incentive to playing the game to 100%, however, in the form of additional abilities, such as running faster or invisibility. The game also has a bit of variety in that respect too.
Controls – 10/10
At least in terms of controls, there are no problems. Sucker Punch had found critical success before Sly Cooper with their first game; another debatably unfairly obscure game for the Nintendo 64 called Rocket: Robot on Wheels. So that there’d be no problems with the controls would have been expected; especially taking into account the elaborately challenging nature of Sucker Punch’s first game, released back in 1999.
Lifespan – 4/10
Unfortunately, even completing the game to 100% can take players less than 10 hours, which compared with other platformers, especially at the time, is nothing. With games like Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank came more content and substance in gameplay, and I found that the original Sly Cooper game severely lacked that, and by that token, it would seem to me no wonder why the first game couldn’t compete with games such as the two aforementioned examples.
Storyline – 7.5/10
The game’s story is just about as simple in general concept, and as crazy in design as many other video gaming franchises before it; but I found that it wouldn’t really be greatly expanded on or elaborated on until the next game. The plot follows an anthropomorphic raccoon thief called Sly Cooper, who along with his two closest friends, a turtle called Bentley and a hippo called Murray, set out to recover missing pages from the book passed down from generation to generation of Sly’s family; the Thievius Raccoonus. Overall, the game’s story is okay, but it only starts to get most interesting towards the end, and I don’t think there was enough added to keep it overly compelling. At least the story is simple enough to not create any confusion, I guess. I believe it to be the worst-case scenario when games or films become so convoluted that they become nigh on impossible to follow.
Originality – 5/10
Although the game would inevitably be considered unique in terms of visuals, it’s by little means unique in terms of gameplay. The only unique gameplay mechanics was the stealth element, which would again, be more elaborated on with future instalments.
Overall, the original Sly Cooper game isn’t an overly terrible game; it was a simple case of trial and error. Only compared to future games in the series, as well as other games around at the time, it seems to me that it was extremely obvious that it was a case of trial and error.