February 15, 2013
After a few years of faking amnesia and dating his Interpol detective/girlfriend Carmelita Fox, Sly Cooper is feeling the itch to go back to his old ways of being a thief. His timing couldn't be better as he soon discovers that his family's treasured book, the Thievius Raccoonus, is starting to lose pages from his family's past. After getting Sly, Bentley, and Murray back together, the adventure really kicks off from there. The gang goes back in time to restore what is right in Sly's family timeline.
Now normally time travel is a complicated thing to handle and most times ends up becoming a total mess. Thankfully the Sly games never take themselves too seriously and this helps you forget any confusion that may come from the story. Sanzaru really hit the nail on the head, not only in terms of how Sly plays, as they also also wrote a story that fits perfectly with the past games. The banter between the gang always feels like a funny conversation between long-time friends.
The story takes an even bigger step forward with new dynamic conversations that happen outside of cutscenes and your binocucom . Now instead of sneaking and attacking in silence, characters will comments on their surrounding a lot more or throw a few jokes around as you play through missions. The writing was so good at its job of getting you hooked in the story that by the time things come to an end, you will want to earn the game's platinum trophy and see the secret ending as soon as possible.
As stated earlier, Sly plays just like he did in his PS2 outings, so expect to be doing a lot of sneaking, platforming, fighting, and collecting. While most of these still hold the norm in most modern day games, actually having fun collectables hasn't been done in many years. Thieves in Time offers up five expansive open areas that are full of secret collectables to find and if you are an old time fan of searching for hours to discover everything, Sly 4 will scratch that itch.
There is also an abundance of mini-games to keep things varied and Sly 4 hits the right balance here. The games range from the fun, but easily forgettable, to the annoying. These involve forced motion controls, which is never a good thing. Still it has been quite a while since a game not only included mini-games at a regular pace, but were also fun to play.
The biggest change to the Sly formula this time around, is that you can now play as Sly's ancestors. Sly also has special costumes to use. Each ancestor plays somewhat similarly but specialises in one particular area. This can be simple, like climbing, but prepare to do a bit of shooting as a certain ancestor. While they may feel out of place on the surface these new characters fit nicely into the formula. With each new time period you visit, Sly will also get a new costume that will help him progress, but don't expect to use these much outside of forced circumstances.
Still a whole generation has almost past now since the era of collecta-thons were the norm and this may not work for everybody. Sly 4 at its core is a game that feels like a PS2 game released in the year 2013, but this is in no way a detriment to the game. Plus, playing the game on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita works like a charm going back and forth. Playing at on the go is just as fun as playing at home since there are only a few differences between the versions.
The Vita version doesn't ever look as smooth as the PS3 version, but due to the games cel-shaded look it still manages to impress on both platform. Touch controls are also simple to use and never feel forced outside of a certain motion controlled mini-game section. As an added bonus, both versions can work together with an AR treasure hunting mode that helps you find missing collectables. Also cross-save works very smoothly, only ever taking a few seconds to download/upload from the cloud.
With Sly Cooper's return to familiar gameplay and story, the graphics don't falter after all these years. The cel shaded art style really compliments all of the cartoonish characters and the worlds they live in. The 2D animated cutscenes also make a return and are better than ever with even more to enjoy. Sadly the Vita version has some pretty bad compression on these cutscenes and makes them look very low quality.
The original voice actors also make their return for all of the main gang and not a step has been missed all these years. The new character's voice actors also do a good job of creating memorable ancestors in Sly's family and brand new criminals to take down. Also the music in each time period really hits its stride, making you feel like you're in an old western town, prehistoric period, and medieval Europe to name a few of the places you will visit.
As you travel to each different time period, Thieves in Time offers a very content-heavy Sly Cooper game for a value price. $40 for the PS3 version with cross-buy is one of the hardest to beat deals to come out recently for a new game. Still for Vita-only players the game is right at the $30 price point and hard to resist even that low at launch. As with all cross-buy titles, this also works buying the game digitally on the PSN store.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time may not have been made by the original studio, but Sanzaru proved that they are more than capable of keeping the series going at least till another trilogy wraps up. The same mechanics and characters from eight years ago show us that a whole lot may not have changed for the series, but things have never looked brighter for this ring tailed raccoon and his gang of thieves.Editor's Choice
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was reviewed on the PS3. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.