TGC Review: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

slycooperfullIt’s been 8 years now since a new Sly Cooper game, so I think it’s about time we got a new one. Originally done by Sucker Punch, they seemingly abandoned their beloved series by the time the PlayStation 3 rolled out and moved right on to what is now their (excuse this pun) infamous series, inFamous. Terrible, I know.

Sly Cooper seemed like a forgotten series, until a team of highly trained monkeys stepped forward (Sanzaru Games, their logo is a monkey!) and re-made all three Sly Cooper games in HD and presented it to Sony. They didn’t even have permission, but Sony liked what they did so they green lit the collection. After the good sales for the collection, they begun work on a fourth entry into their seemingly favorite series (again without Sony’s permission). Once again though, Sony liked what they saw when presented with a tech demo. So much so that what is now Thieves in Time was green lit and put into full development.

So now that we’re done with the brief history lesson, let’s get right to it shall we?

In short, hardcore Sly fans (like myself) will be overly impressed with the game. Not only has Sanzaru done a fantastic job with the game, I’d go as far to say they bested the original three made by Sucker Punch. That’s a pretty big statement for me, especially since Sucker Punch is my personal favorite studio.

Now this entry into the Sly Cooper series is not just a “spiritual successor” like Red Dead Redemption was, this is a full on sequel. A continuation of an already intricate story with the Sly Cooper series, and it’s so well done. Everything in it just looks, feels, and plays wonderfully. Draw distance is exactly what is needed, characters are charming, funny, and well done. Collectibles, mini-games, trophies, cross-save, easter eggs, the game has everything! Not only that, its retail price is $40. Yes, a AAA game at $40 with Cross-Buy. I’d say it has more than enough bang for your buck to justify a purchase.

Just like old times

Sly’s back, and his adventure is bigger and better than ever.

Sly Cooper basically revolves around open-world exploration as you pickpocket guards, paraglide from rooftop to rooftop, and sprint through alleyways evading guards. With such a cartoony world, it’s hard not to get side-tracked sometimes from the main story and develop a wanderlust to go look for clue bottles, sly masks, treasures, and more. All of these collectibles and worlds alone would justify the price of admission. Even if you just want to advance though the main story though, the game still packs at least 8 hours of gameplay for you.

The story in the game is just as good as the gameplay itself. It has that Sly Cooper charm as a nonsensical, silly plot with amazing characters. Characters like Sly, Bentley, Murray, and others will draw you into the experience as much as any other feature in the game. All of their dialogue is expertly written, providing many laughs along their journey through time, and the voice acting is once again superb. Hats off to you, Mr. Miller. Expect to chuckle often with this game, from not only dialogue, but also silly missions, costumes, one-liners, etc…

New characters also only make the experience more enjoyable.  Such antagonists include a rapping, ice-skating bear to a frustrated elephant recovering from a failed musical career. Even with these new characters, they make it feel like a Sly game. That classic, over the top humor of the cast returns and it’s all executed even better with the writing, new characters, set pieces, and more. We can’t though, forget about Sly’s playable ancestors. Each offer a unique play style, and they all contribute effectively to the story in one way or another. They’re all rather humorous too, because most are just downright confused and clueless onto how Sly and his gang are in their time.

Ain't nothing like it.

Ain’t nothing like it.

Classic Sly Cooper gameplay returns as well, too. You’ve got ThiefNet, the online thief store for all your thieving needs. You’ve got combos for each character (including Sly’s ancestors!). I found the most enjoyable combat to be with Murray, he is the brawn of the group after all! I won’t spoil anything here, but I will tell you that by the end of the game, there are nine playable characters (all with their own unique move sets) to play with. It makes for good variety.

The world that Sly runs around in is absolutely beautiful, especially when compared to previous installments in the series. From a Feudal Japan to the Old West, I found myself having a blast just running around aimlessly throughout the worlds, mindlessly exploring, finding collectibles, and just taking in the expertly detailed surfaces and buildings. Everything from character models to set pieces looks phenomenal, seemingly designed down to the very last, little detail. Everything in this game looks great. I’d go as far to say fantastic.

Just plain unique and fun. Dare I say too fun... ;)

Just plain unique and fun. Dare I say too fun… ;)

The only complaints I unfortunately have for this game is a wonky camera. It was also ironically my only complaint about inFamous 2 and previous Sly games. When running away from baddies or along buildings, the camera occasionally would spin-out and just get plain terrible for a few second. It’s cost me a few deaths. Some people had issues with loading times, I personally never had a problem with them (playing off a physical copy). Some didn’t like “archaic” controls, but I see nothing wrong with them. I did, however, feel a little awkward using SIXAXIS motion controls again for some small parts in the game. They were unnecessary.

The Vita version by the way, is practically on par with the game. Only hindrances are a graphical downgrade, and albeit significant, did not detract from the overall experience on my Vita. It felt right at home on the Vita, and the cross-save was honestly ridiculously easy to use. Upload, download, play. That simple.

The Verdict:

Gameplay: Practically flawless. Occasional gripe with wonky camera, but Thieves in Time retains the classic Sly gameplay and Sanzaru executes it marvellously. 9.2/10

Presentation: Menu’s are easy to navigate, cross-save is exceptionally easy to use, and the game recaps previous events in the Sly Cooper series for you, so it’s incredibly easy to jump right into. Having a Vita version makes it even better.  10/10

Sound: Music fits Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time  perfectly and always chimes in at the right moments. Voice acting is superb, dialogue is excellent. 10/10

Lasting Appeal: More than enough to do. From collectibles to mini-games to trophies, if you want to do everything in this game, it will take you at least 40 hours. I felt as if every moment of playing this game was amazing. Well worth the 40 dollars. 9.9/10

Overall Score: 9.6/10

 

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About Chris

Hi! I'm Chris. It's not the name I would have given myself at birth, but it'll do... Playing games is my favourite pastime, whether it be on a console, a handheld, a phone or some simple snakes and ladders, I just love playing games!