It has been eight years since the last release of everyone’s favorite thieving raccoon on the PlayStation 2 and Sanzaru Games has decided it was time to check in on Sly and the gang.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time takes place after Sly 3 and sees Sly traveling in time to restore the pages of the Thieveus Raccoonus that are suddenly disappearing. The use of time travel means that gamers will be able to meet some of Sly’s ancestors who were mentioned in the Thieveus Raccoonus alongside the familiar cast of characters. Players will travel between a few different time periods to stop foes that are being led by a mysterious character trying to stop the Cooper family.
The story is standard fare with a villain in each area that needs to be stopped while working to stop the main bad guy with some twists here and there. Backstory for the game and characters are played out in animated cut scenes that have come a long way since the days of Sly Cooper on the PlayStation 2. There is also the usual banter and quips by the characters during missions that are enjoyable and add to the charm of the franchise.
Does the game still play like it used to or have changes been made to modernize it? The game remains very true to its roots and features various open world areas with missions to complete, bottles to find, and enemies to pickpocket. For those that may not remember or be new to the franchise, Sly Cooper games focus on Sly Cooper that comes from a family of thieves and ends up facing off against various foes. The game is a 3D platformer that will have players jumping from platforms to remain undetected and perform various forms of thievery that include pick-pocketing to sabotaging the schemes of foes.
New features have been added to make up for the various complex designs of each open world. By press of button or tap of touch panel on back of Vita, an indicator appears around the character being used to indicate where the next mission point is. A minor issue I have with the open areas is that each can feel sparse at times or enemy placement could be better to create more tense situations like previous games.
Speaking of characters, gamers will be happy to know that they will have the ability to play as Sly, Bently, Murray, Carmelita, and various ancestors of the Cooper clan. Each character plays very differently and it is great to see how the levels are designed around the skills of each character. A new feature added to spice up gameplay for Sly is the introduction of costumes for him. These costumes provided different abilities for Sly to take advantage of. One world Sly gets a samurai costume that protects against fire while in another world he gets a prison outfit that provides a ball and chain to use for moving objects. The only problem is that these costumes see little to no practical use outside of the worlds they are acquired, which is a missed opportunity for some unique level designs.
Other members of the Cooper clan also feature their own special abilities like Rioichi’s ability to use The Leaping Dragon technique to go from spire to spire with ease. Some of the most unique and fun moments in the game actually come from Bently’s hacks that take on the feel of old school games such as side scrolling shooters to top down games. These hack missions come at the right times during missions to stop things from getting monotonous. Each character also has their specialties and play differently in a large variety of ways, from Carmelita’s run and gun style to Murray’s brawler style of play.
What is a Sly Cooper game without boss fights though? Fortunately there are enemies to take on inside and outside of missions as well as the bosses leading them in each time period. The villains of each world are fun and interesting characters that had me personally laughing at times because of their ridiculousness. Where else can you find an armadillo that went from gangster to a sheriff in a western town? Battling against these foes does require some trial and error to learn their patterns to beat them, which can be offsetting at times.
The best features included in this game are Cross-Buy and Cross-Save. When the game is purchased for the PlayStation 3, gamers will get a digital version of the game for the PlayStation Vita. Even better is the ability to transfer a save to the cloud on the PlayStation 3 and pull it down onto the PlayStation Vita. This is great for gamers that may not have the time to play at home and the games are identical in almost every way except for graphics. One thing both versions sadly share are the load times that can feel really slow at times on both the PS3 and PS Vita.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a game that has taken the cell shaded style of the series and brought them up to snuff for this generation of titles. The characters look great and their personality shines through in this game. Areas in the game are vibrant and feel full of life despite the sometimes sparseness of enemies. Not all games transition too well from one generation to another but Sly Cooper Thieves in Time does not suffer from this.
Sly has made the transition to the PlayStation 3 mostly intact without any serious issues bogging the game down. There are some things that are a bit of a let down such as the design of enemy locations that is missing the tension of previous games and it would have been nice to see the costumes in the game put to more use in each of the worlds. These are just minor complaints when looking at this game that retains what has worked in the franchise while bringing Sly and the gang to a modern platform.
This game provides tons of charm and a variety of characters to play with that provided different experiences. The game is highly recommended for gamers that enjoy platformers that provide a variety of gameplay and the ability to play anywhere with Cross-Play makes this a great value.