Gamers not may be concerned with fashion questions like "is blue the new black" but one question which has been on everybodys lips is "is cel-shading the new 3D?". The team at Sucker Punch seem to think that this technique is the business and thankfully they seem to understand its implementation a damn sight better than most. Their latest game is called Sly Raccoon, it's for the PlayStation 2, (or Sly Cooper and the Thievus Raccoonus if you're in the USA) and it's looking pretty sweet.

The main character is (as you might have guessed) a Raccoon called Sly Cooper who happens to be a professional thief. It's a platform game at heart with the usual antics of collecting certain items and navigating interesting environments but due to Sly's thievish and raccoonish nature there is huge freedom of movement. He can go almost anywhere. There are also seem to be a lot more story elements and scripted events than most platformers.

Check out some background on Sly direct from Sucker Punch:

[indent]Sly Cooper was born into the world's greatest thieving family. On his eighth birthday, Sly is presented with the "Thievius Raccoonus," an ancient thieving instruction guide passed down through his family for generations. Later that evening, a gang of ruthless villains break into his harmonious home to steal the valuable heirloom. As Sly watches in terror, the intruders overpower his father and split the "Thievius Raccoonus" into pieces, which they divide between themselves.

Ten years later, Sly is out to steal the "Thievius Raccoonus" back and reclaim what is rightfully his. He enlists the help of his gadget genius pal, Bentley, and his big eager friend Murray, and the trio embark on a quest to help Sly prove he is the world's greatest thief and to restore honor to his family's name.

[/indent]

There is no doubt that Sly Racoon looks great. Sucker Punch really seem to understand that using cel-shading requires flair and an understanding of visual techniques that aren't normally used in videogame design. They have come up with a game which genuinely looks like an animated adventure rather than just taking a "make a game using those cartoon graphics things" approach that some developers have employed. Cel-shading is not a magic bullet that will help make a crap game sell well and is refreshing to see that Sucker Punch seem to be getting it right.

We saw only a small portion of the game at E3 but this section was packed to the gills with things to do and we witnessed some extremely entertaining cutscenes and characters. Sly Raccoon seems to be shaping up to make a real impact in a genre that is starting to get very crowded. The rogueish raccoon is due to appear on the PlayStation 2 later this year. Expect to see a lot more on Sly Raccoon soon.