Eight years have passed since the last Sly Cooper title and, more often than not, a series returning from such a long hiatus usually means it’s being brought back to make some quick cash. Not going to name games, but it’s hard to count how many genuinely great franchises have left a sour taste with their last effort to be “revived.” Thankfully, this isn’t the case for Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and the team over at Sanzaru Games do the suave raccoon justice.
Like previous entries in the series, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a 3D platformer that contains a healthy balance of exploration and sneaky stealthiness. There is little to no hiccups when it comes to gameplay and things are kept fresh throughout. One moment you could be staying out of sight and swiping over-sized keys from guards and the next moment you’ll find yourself leaping across long distances; it’s a rollercoaster ride of methodical and action-based gameplay.
Of course, all the fun of the game would go to waste without a proper story to complement the play and Thieves in Time definitely has it. It’s hard to tell which outshines the other, because both the story and gameplay are very well done. Sly and his team, like the title suggests, travel through time to stop whoever is changing the timeline and attempt to save the Thievius Raccoonus (book with all of Sly’s ancestors’ thieving moves) and the Cooper legacy. As you can tell, the story is not a very complicated one.
The main story is told through cartoon-like cutscenes and the adventure eventually takes Sly and his pals through familiar times and areas of the past. Your first stop is Feudal Japan and you’ll end up somewhere as different as the Wild West. There are five episodes total and you’ll notice cool little things like the coins dropping from down baddies are context sensitive and will reflect the time period currently being played.
The voice acting and humor is top-notch in — not only the cutscenes — but throughout the game. On top of the story, Sly and his trusted friends, Bentley and Murray, also banter back and forth during missions and each of them is full of character and charm. Did I mention Sly’s friends are a talking turtle and pink hippo? Yeah, it’s that kind of silly. Playing with each of them is also a different experience as Bentley has his hacking tricks, while Murray is more about brute strength. Along the way, you’ll also get to play with Sly’s ancestors met and they are just as cool (if not cooler) as Sly.
Playing through the main game is a enjoyable time to be had, but there is also plenty of side stuff to do to keep the experience going. There are lots of collectibles and side missions to be accomplished and it’s up to you if you want to get sidetracked by all the other happenings in the world of Sly. Finding hidden objects, retrieving items within a time limit and traversing difficult leaps and gaps are just some of the extra content that offer up replayability and lots of bang for your buck.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time for PS Vita is the same game as the PS3 release and does take a graphical hit from its console counterpart. However, the game still looks very good and shouldn’t be a problem outside of thinking “this could have looked better.” Load times are as long as 25 seconds, but only happen in the beginning of a new mission and is the same on the PS3 version. At the end of the day, it’s $10 cheaper than the already bargain price PS3 game ($13 off of PSN) and a steal if you get the $40 PS3 version which comes with the Vita version for free.
Sanzaru Games stuck to a tried and true formula, which could have ended Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time up lost in a shuffle of many other games. But what makes Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time exceptional is that everything is executed so well. Solid platforming, enjoyable gameplay, lots of variety and an engaging story make this a welcome return for the Cooper gang. If you get the chance to play this one, don’t pass it up.