Sly Cooper holds a special place in many people’s hearts that grew up with a PlayStation 2. There were so many new IPs and extravagant games on the PS2 that a simple stealth-platformer could have easily gotten lost in the shuffle and forgotten about. Somehow, a thieving raccoon found a niche audience and became a cult-classic. Can Sanzaru Games make Sucker Punch proud or was this series better left a trilogy?
It was a little known company called Sucker Punch Productions that originally brought PlayStation the idea for Sly Cooper after signing a deal with the publisher in 2000. It was a fairly big gamble for the company who had only one title under their belt, a Nintendo 64 title called Rocket: Robot on Wheels. The gamble paid off and Sucker Punch is now a member of the PlayStation family after being acquired in 2011 after creating another popular series with InFamous. With InFamous quickly becoming a franchise, the Sly series was left dormant and many fans thought that it was over for Sly and the gang until and unlikely studio stepped up to the plate.
Sanzaru Games was a company known mostly for ports and smaller games when they created a PS3 prototype for Sly Cooper. The prototype was met with such praise that Sanzaru was given the duty of creating The Sly Collection. The rest, as they say, is history and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was born.
Make no mistake about SlyCooper: Thieves in Time (which we’ll refer to as Sly 4 from now on), this game is definitely a true sequel in every sense of the word. The standard 3D platforming, exploration, stealth, and comedy that you expect is all there complete with all your favourite characters from past games along with some interesting new ones. The game looks decent, play great, and generally provides a lot of bang for your buck cconsidering it’s competitively priced and is available as a part of PlayStation’s cross-buy program.
The difference between Sly 4 and many other 3D platformers out there is that you can put in a bunch of hours finding every little thing and exploring the vast levels contained within the game or you can choose to just follow the story and not get sidetracked with the many collectibles and secrets. Let’s be honest here, you’re not going to get a super-difficult game but, you are getting a game that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Sly 4 retains the quirkiness and comedy that have been a mainstay of the series and this one will have you smiling more often than not. Whether it’s Bentley causing havoc in his wheelchair, “the” Murray, or Sly with his sarcastic humour, you can’t help but feel a general connection to the characters and a desire to help them succeed on their journey. The voice-acting, which has always been a strong point in the series, is superb and really brings the whole game together.
There are a load of new characters that have made their way into Sly 4. The game’s antagonist is a skunk named Le Paradox. Le Paradox wants relics from the past to become rich and famous. Of course, the relics he’s determined to take happen to belong to Sly’s ancestors, to be exact, the pages of the Thievius Raccoonus and Bentley’s girlfriend Penelope. Sly and the gang enter the fray through a newly constructed time machine (created by Bentley). The gang travel through time meeting various ancestors along the way and crossing paths with Carmelita once again who has some new problems with Sly after she finds out he lied to her. The story will definitely keep you interested and it’s actually a pretty well thought-out continuation of the series.
The gameplay is refined in Sly 4 with the introduction of Sly’s ancestors. These range from a cave man to a skilled ninja. The great thing about the new characters is that these aren’t just some NPCs in the background that help you on your journey, these are playable characters that allow you to do things that the main team can’t. Sly also gets access to new outfits that will grant him special skills when he visits the homeland of his ancestors. Sly’s ancestor from the Renaissance will give him archery skills, allowing Sly to use arrows to hit distant switches and connect different areas with ropes. While traveling to ancient China, Sly can obtain a fire-resistant outfit. The variety in Sly 4 is much better than the previous three in the series and all of the different abilities, costumes, and ancestors are a welcome addition to what would otherwise be a rather mundane experience. Platforming can be a frustrating experience with some poor camera angles and a strange issue when jumping at the top of a pole to the roof of a building, the character occasionally clips the roof and falls to the ground. The new costumes and and moves more than make up for the few nuisances that players will experience.
With a bunch of new playable characters along with the same tried and true ones you’ve used before along with some new costumes and abilities to go along with those, Sly 4 is definitely a game that stayed true to its roots and did the fans some genuine service. There aren’t many games that last longer than a trilogy and most don’t make a good transition to a fourth game if they do, Sly 4 did a decent job. The Vita version is noticeably inferior in graphic quality but, gameplay is nearly identical. The graphic hit is a price fans will have to pay to play the game on the go. Cross-Save is implemented in Sly 4 as well as the Cross-Buy promotion which at $39.99 is an absolute steal that really makes Sly 4 an easy purchase even with some glaring load times and a few pointless motion control activities.
It’s safe to say that the wait for Sly 4 was worth it and I for one would love to see what Sanzaru could do with a fifth installment after a solid sequel to a beloved franchise.