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Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Published Aug. 31, 2005

System: PlayStation 2

Company: Sony

Price: $39.99

Rating: Everyone

Grade: C Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is an adventure game about a raccoon thief named Sly Cooper. He is a young thief in a long line of raccoon thieves. He was trying to learn more about thievery from a book called the Thievius Raccoonus, but it was stolen from his family by the evil Fiendish Five. Now he's on a mission to find it.

This is a platforming game. Throughout, Sly collects gold coins to gain a lucky horseshoe, which temporarily protects him from injury. He must avoid hazards, including water, lava, lasers, cactus and guards packing weapons. Stealthy Sly carries a hooked cane that he can use to jump from rings, slide down ropes, avoid hazards or knock out the guards.

The graphics in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus are very cartoonish, but there are no glitches or lagging. The sound effects are good. The game has a few negatives. For example, the characters are all the time cracking corny jokes and pointing out the obvious. It gets annoying quickly. The controls also are a little difficult to handle occasionally. All in all, Sly Cooper is a decent game, but it is probably better for younger players. Older teens and adults may not enjoy it.

_ SCOTT STEINLE, Times correspondent

ATV Offroad Fury 2

System: PlayStation 2

Company: Sony

Price: $49.99

Rating: Everyone

Grade: A- ATV Offroad Fury 2 is better than the first version. There are many game types to choose from, including Internet access to compete online against players from around the world. There is a freestyle mode (this one's great if you like to do tricks) and racing mode (for the speed lovers). You can race in championships for profile points, which enable you to unlock new levels, purchase better ATVs and upgrade clothing, gear and more. There are even minigames (such as hockey) that let you enjoy the game without racing.

You can choose several tracks, including inside stadiums, cross country and various terrains. The races boast great detail, such as splashing mud, and with experience you can learn to control the speed of your jumps for maximum efficiency.

As in most good games, you can view the race from several vantage points, including first person, which allows you to drive from the seat of the ATV. There is also a wide variety of upbeat background music, from rap to heavy metal, including tracks from System of a Down and Alien Ant Farm. Very cool.

_ ADAM SHEPPARD, Times correspondent