Admittedly, the little raccoon is my favorite video game character. Sly Cooper, one of Sony’s mascots for PS2, brought a lot to its genre and to gaming in general. With the franchise having been out of action for eight years, and given how poorly most of Sony’s PS2 exclusives made the transition to PS3, as well as my apprehension about Sanzaru Games developing Thieves in Time, I had mixed feelings on this one. Well, the good news is that Sly is back. Thieves in Time may not be as good as its predecessors, but it’s a sweet little gift to the loyal fans of the series.
Sly reunites with Bentley, the brains of the gang, and Murray, the brawn, several years after the events of Sly 3 when Bentley discovers that pages from Sly’s ancestral book of tricks, Thievius Raccoonus, are mysteriously turning blank. As luck would have it, Bentley has the perfect gadget for the problem – a time machine. And so the band takes off, going back in time to preserve the family heritage of their furry friend, and in the process fulfilling every Sly fan’s dream of meeting a whole lot of Coopers!
Thieves in Time retains the art style of previous games but with an HD makeover, much like the HD remakes in the Sly Collection. The game looks spectacular, Looking spectacular as always, different levels sport added touches to details since the game revolves around different eras. Good work on the level design too, although I expected better use of the open world setting. 3D implementation is atrocious though. The frames drop to less than half and the game becomes a jarring mess. It’s all the more disappointing because it doesn’t even look any better, rendering 3D a useless addition. There’s nothing of note on the sound side either, given the lack of background score during normal gameplay, although voiceovers are pretty neat.
Every era has its own independent story connected to Sly and his ancestry.
The story is pretty bland and a bit of a half-baked effort, especially in comparison to previous Sly games, but progression is well handled. At no point does it feel like a drag even though it isn’t terribly engaging. Every era has its own independent story connected to Sly and his ancestry, and each mission is replayable, which is a nice bonus. The characters most definitely step up the game’s entertainment value. The trio brings its mischievous best, and they’re always taking a crack at something or the other using a plethora of tricks, including disguises and traps.
Although Bentley and Murray lack Sly’s stealth skills, they more than make up for it with Bentley’s arsenal of gadgets and Murray’s sheer strength. Moreover, you get to meet and play as one of Sly’s ancestors in each era you visit. From feudal China to medieval England, a whole line of cane-whacking raccoons is available to help out the gang. Carmelita is back as well, albeit a bit raunchier.
There is a noticeable shortage of stealth segments, but what is there is quite enjoyable.
Gameplay is fast and straightforward as in the previous games, requiring players to think quickly, especially during combat. The controls are responsive and tight as in previous games, but Sly seems to lack some of his pace. Platforming elements are fun and intuitive, and to some extent, challenging. The presence of other playable characters also adds a new set of moves to navigate around. There is a noticeable shortage of stealth segments, but what is there is quite enjoyable. Upgrades are available through the in-game market and are quite useful in getting around the later stages of the game.
There is also an array of mini-games throughout the game, ranging from Bentley’s hacking, to a friendly table tennis match at the gang’s warehouse. A bucketload of collectibles are hidden across the game in the form of bottles, tokens and treasures, and completionists are in for some exercise to fill that treasure wall in the warehouse.
Thieves in Time is also part of Sony’s cross-buy program, which means you’ll get the PS Vita version for free whenyou buy the PS3 copy. It’s a big deal, especially given that the game also supports a cross-save that lets you use the same save file across both devices. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to give the game a spin on the Vita.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a classic case of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. It’s a heart-warming gift to fans of the series and also worth a try for first-timers. It may come with its own set of shortcomings and may not appeal to everyone, but those who are on the fence should grab a copy and give it a shot. Kudos to Sanzaru Games for the effort.