Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3 & Vita)

An open-world exploration game in which Sly and his team travel through time to distant lands

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Sony Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3 & Vita)

Pros

  • A Sly game from beginning to end, complete with the series’ humour
  • Well balanced game that eliminates the frustration found in earlier instalments
  • Vita version stacks up well to the PlayStation 3 edition

Cons

  • Some of the mini-games are a chore to get through
  • Motion based mini games don’t work well due to the unresponsive SixAxis controller
  • Like Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, it essentially feels like a PlayStation 2 game in HD

Bottom Line

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is an authentic and highly enjoyable experience that should serve as a blueprint for how gaming franchises should be revived.

Would you buy this?

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time finds the Sly and his support team of Murray and Bentley travelling through time to stop a plot to eradicate the Cooper bloodline. Sly has to travel to ancient Japan, medieval Britain, the wild west, the middle east and pre-historic times to stop various villains from stealing the canes of Sly’s ancestors and altering history.

The gameplay follows the open world exploration model introduced in the latter Sly games with very little variation to the formula. Gameplay during the platforming levels is the same as in past titles, though playing as some of Sly’s ancestors means the player gets to use some new abilities, such as climbing walls, shooting guns or leaping further.

Both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions of the game are identical as far as content is concerned, though the graphics in the Vita game have been scaled down somewhat. The cross-save feature is a standout addition, allowing players to import their save game between both versions of the game.

The simple gameplay of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time means that it works well as a “pick up and play” title for the Vita, with most missions only lasting a few minutes and the open worlds not taking too much time to explore. The only downside is that the numerous mini games have been designed to make use of the Vita’s motion controls. The mini games are not very compelling and do not work as well when ported to the PlayStation 3 due to the unresponsive SixAxis motion controller.

From the graphics and gameplay to the voice acting and humour, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a Sly game through and through. Playing the game you would not notice that it was done by a different studio, let alone the fact that eight years have passed since the previous game, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, came out on PlayStation 2.

Forgotten heroes

Sony seems to have a love/hate relationship with its IP. While companies like Nintendo are content to keep releasing updates to legacy franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and Zelda, Sony has shown a tendency to leave its popular properties by the wayside with the switch to a new hardware generation.

PlayStation games such as MediEvil and Rally Cross have been relegated to obscurity in order to make way for new IP. The Sly Cooper series was fortunate to come out in the PlayStation 2 just as the Ratchet and Clank, and Jak and Daxter series were starting to wind down on the console. While developer Insomniac would continue Ratchet and Clank on the PlayStation 3, Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper would be retired as developers Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch focused on their new IP, Uncharted and InFamous respectively.

With the lack of backward compatibility on the PlayStation 3, following the removal of the feature after launch, Sony was faced with the issue of how to let people play their old PlayStation 2 games. Instead of merely emulating the existing game, the approach Sony took was by encouraging developers to release HD versions of their old games. 2009’s God of War Collection was credited with starting off this movement, and the success of it meant that numerous HD remakes of games have been released since.

New life

One of the HD collections to come from Sony was 2010 The Sly Collection by Sanzaru studio. The high quality ports of the three games would lead the studio to create their own addition to the series, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.

Sanzaru’s experience with porting the three games to PlayStation 3 meant that the developer became very familiar with the franchise, and there is a certain amount of reverence for it in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Imagine if a developer decided to create Sonic the Hedgehog 4 that looked, felt and played the same as the original trilogy, except that it looked like a next generation title. That’s what Sanzaru did with Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, and it is the sincerest form of compliment I can think of.

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