Written by: Darkspineslayer
From Assassin’s Creed, to Metal Gear Solid, stealth games run the gambit of story types and gameplay tropes, but Sly Cooper pretty much has the monopoly on the lighthearted side of sneaking. The shady ringtail and his band of misfits finally make the jump to the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita with Sly Cooper: Thieves in time. The only question that remains, does the step back in time pull the franchise back with it?
The story begins with a quick rundown of the previous events, though an understanding isn’t strictly necessary to enjoying the game. After the previous trilogy, the gang went their separate ways. Sly faked some amnesia to spend some time with love interest and interPOL agent Carmelita, Bentley the tech wiz retreated to his laboratory with robotics expert and gal-pal Penelope, and Murray the brawn went on to live his dreams on the demolition derby circuit.
Just as Cooper is feeling the itch to pull a new heist, Bentley shows up with some disturbing news. The Thevious Racconius, Cooper family manual slash historical document has begun to disappear, page by page. Obviously the only logical answer is somebody is screwing around with Cooper ancestors past, and luckily Bentley already has a time machine as the answer to their problem.
In case it wasn’t obvious already, the story doesn’t take itself super seriously. The lighthearted plot is self referential, occasionally funny and typically over the top. All in all, it meshes well with the rest of the package to create the cartoon atmosphere the original games did so well. The cel-shaded visual style works well for this game, keeping the charm of the PS2 games while giving a satisfactory visual update to the new console.
The new console and the new times do little to change the old antics of the series however. Gameplay works much like Sly 2, with each episode containing an overworld and a series of missions for the group to take care of before moving in on the episodes antagonist and their operations. Clue bottles and treasures can be found in the overworld and returned to your hideout to fund new powers from Thiefnet for each of the eventual members of the gang.
Each episode also heavily features one of the Cooper ancestors, with unique abilities separate from Sly. While they handle about the same, they keep things fresh enough to avoid tedium and keep focus mostly on the gameplay of Sly, if not the character. While each hub world is undoubtedly larger than ever before as well, it comes at the cost of navigation, and many times you’ll be left wondering where to go, simply because the path to your objective isn’t immediately obvious. You also end up spending less time in each world as well, and each total episode is shorter than those found in previous games. Control remains tight as ever, even keeping the menu hopping previous games used for gadget select down to a minimum.
Sly Cooper:Thieves in Time offers a very safe, very by the numbers Sly Cooper game, offering fans more of what they loved, while not doing too much to win over a new audience. Hopefully now that Sly’s new handlers have proven themselves, they can really go nuts with another entry.
Afterword: Vita de Fure
All PS3 copies of the game come new with a digital copy of the Vita version, upping the value to an owner of both systems. The game makes a few sacrifices in the transition, such as more finicky controls and a visual downgrade that leaves it looking flat. It works well as a companion to the PS3 version through an easy to use Cross-Save function that lets you pick it up from just about any checkpoint with a few seconds connected to PSN, and an AR treasure viewer can take a lot of the guesswork and tedium from hunting for collectables by using the Vita as a second screen. Still great, but better as a companion that where you do the whole game.