Written by Twisted Ideas
It’s been 8 years since the Cooper Gang have gone their separate ways. They have made guest appearances here and there but you never heard of the continued adventures of the Cooper gang. But the gang has finally returned in an adventure that will take them all over time. Will Sly and friends make a triumphant return or be forgotten in time.
The last time we saw the gang was at the Cooper Vault. Sly faked amnesia to start a life with Inspector Carmelita Fox. Murray became a champion demolish derby driver around. Bentley and his girlfriend Penelope worked on building a time machine. Several years have past and Bently notices that the pages of the Thieveious Racoonous are vanishing and that Penelope is missing. He contacts the old team urging Sly to steal once again. After taking an ancient artifact
Sly Cooper is a third person stealth platforming game with various different game types thrown into the mix. Sly as the main character has the most tricks up his sleeves. He is able to interact with the environments to climb, stand on small poles and run across thin platforms. Bentley the tech genius has various explosives, gadgets and darts to deal with enemies. He can also hack security modules initiating one of three mini-games to gain access. Murray is the muscle, nothing fancy about it. He can fight head on better than anyone and throw heavy objects. Carmelita has her shock pistol to take down even the biggest enemies.
Stealth; Some have don’t have to try as hard as others.
As you travel through time you will meet one of Sly’s ancestors whom each have their own unique skills while most having the acrobatic skills of Sly. These skills allows for access to several places that Sly cannot access. In the different time periods Sly can obtain costumes that gives him new skills and methods to solve problems. Some costumes limit mobility and disable some if not all of his skills.
Each level is broken up into missions that you have to access from the area map. The area is surrounded by guards who will attack you on sight. The have simple patrol patterns and can easily be avoided or pickpocketed. You have to be careful because they can be patrolling roofs which are the easiest way to navigate. You have to choose the appropriate character to and explore the level to progress the story. Each area contains several collectables such has hint bottles, secret Sly masks and treasures.
Graphics and Sound
Thieves in Time uses cel shading in game and drawn artwork in cutscenes. The graphics are an improvement over the HD collection. Textures, character models and environments are more detailed and vivid. The overall art style hasn’t changed other than a few character designs. Despite all the graphical improvements the game looks dated. The combination of the limitations of cel shading and the art style is a factor. Another factor is that characters will talk during gameplay but their mouths don’t move. It would have been one thing if they didn’t sync the audio with the mouths but they didn’t even try.
Most (Carmelita changed again…) of the voice actors reprise their roles. It’s nice to have the gang back together and their banter is just as good. The game used narration to tell most of the story while more of the causal and mission banter is said during gameplay. This works out pretty well because the narrated scenes move the story at a fast pace and it’s delivered so well that you want to listen. The music is composed to theme the different time periods. They aren’t the most memorable songs but it sets the mood.
It’s nice to see the Cooper gang again but I feel underwhelmed. The plot is actually pretty good. Sly’s ancestors were great. They were quirky and maybe a bit flawed but it didn’t take long to warm up to them. Each of the gang had their moment in the spotlight that bringing you closer to them. My main issue with the story was Sly and Carmelita’s. Their relationship went through a rough patch at the start of the game and when they did reunite their relationship was mostly handled through the narration in the act breaks. There weren’t many scenes of them talking and non of which dealt with the elephant in the room. This forbidden love was a pretty big focus but it didn’t get the attention it deserved.
The gang’s too mesmerized to notice Murray in the kimono and makeup.
My second issue was the ending. After the last boss fight, you are left with a cliffhanger ending. It felt like there was a missing scene. Immediately after you have the aftermath of the event you didn’t actually see. It didn’t have to be an epic scene but it should have been shown. There is a secret ending for getting the tedious Platinum trophy but it only provides vague context for the next game.
It’s been 8 years since the last Sly game and the formula hasn’t changed much. The Ocean’s 11-esqu heists are still a big part of the framework. The gang each has their own abilities and roles and are enjoyable to play but the missions leaned towards a few types of missions more often than not. Each level gave Sly a new costume and abilities but some rarely got used. The hacking missions would have been enjoyable if I didn’t play Bentley’s hackpack that had 30 of each minigame done better. The ancestors were mostly Sly with one or two abilities Sly doesn’t have.
Also at the end of each act the Theifnet store would sell new abilities for the gang. This executed poorly. Several skills were less useful than mashing the attack button. Each member had 5 different mods to their abilities. They weren’t too different in damage or effect to justify ever taking the time to switch between them. Carmelita didn’t even appear in enough missions to test all of her mods and there wasn’t even a good reason to have her wander the level map. Some of Bentley’s mods leaned towards stealth but he rarely got a chance to use it because he was hacking so much. Murray’s only added different effects to his punches changing the number of hits to kill from three to two.
I am disappointed with Sanzaru who took over for Sucker Punch as developers. To be fair I don’t know if Sucker Punch would have done the game much different. I expected more new experiences not similar ones like I had 8 years ago. Sly and friends are such great characters that I want to see more from them but I feel that the game held them down. I’m not sure what they have to do to make Sly fresh again but this wasn’t it. 8 years and they did less innovation than Sly 3. If you are a Sly fan I would recommend waiting for it to be a budget title. If you are new to the franchise, I would recommend the HD collection and if you really want to buy this one. I hate to say it but Sly let me down this time.