GAME NAME: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
DEVELOPER(S): Sanzaru Games
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): 28 March 2013
The Sly Cooper franchise has been on a rather noticeable hiatus. It enjoyed a fair amount of success on the PS2 but if you’re not counting the HD re-release of the Sly Cooper trilogy, the thieving raccoon has been in a hibernation of sorts. Until now, that is. With the development reins handed over from Sucker Punch to Sanzaru Games, it’s time for Sly and co. to return to their pilfering ways in a brand new adventure released for both the Vita and PS3.
The story starts off with a bored and listless Sly, reminiscing about past great adventures and once again feeling the urge to return to his thieving roots. Lucky for him his yearning just so happens to coincide with the mysterious disappearance of the words inside the “Thievius Raccoonus” – a tome detailing the history of the Cooper lineage. Joined by his usual partners in crime – Bentley, the turtle-in-a-wheelchair and Murray, the pink hippo – the three set out on a time travelling adventure to restore order and to find out just who is behind the case of the vanishing words in the Thievius Raccoonus. The story takes place within 5 different eras, and is paced fairly well at each point in time – ranging all the way from feudal Japan to the Wild West – each featuring its own ancestor for Sly to meet and culminating in a boss fight.
And while you do engage in combat, the game’s first and foremost priority is platforming. Everything within the environment you can jump to – from pipes and chimneys to telephone lines – are signposted with a bluish glow. When you’re close to something you can jump or latch onto a simple tap of the circle button will send Sly in the appropriate direction. While the platforming is satisfying, it’s still a tad floaty and simply too easy for the most part. Depending on the target audience, this can be seen as either a plus or a negative but for the more experienced gamers out there the challenge the platforming presents will certainly not cause you to work up a sweat. As you progress you’ll also be able to take control of Bentley or Murray, each with their own set of strengths, adding some variety to the proceedings.
Each level has a fair amount of stealth and brawling sections thrown in that manages to keep things from getting stale, but is hampered by some camera issues along the way. Nothing game-breaking but annoying nonetheless, especially during boss fights. The Vita hardware is also put through its paces with everything from the rear touchpad to the gyroscope being utilised but these sections do little to feel much more than gimmicky.
Another problem with the Vita version is the long and frequent load times which is less than ideal and does dampen the overall experience somewhat. Visually the game is colourful and crisp although the art direction is mostly bland and unimaginitive. It’s acceptable, but entirely boring. The game runs smoothly and at a stable frame rate though and I did not encounter any glitches during my playthrough.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a semi-triumphant return then. It does just enough to stand alongside its older siblings but fails to innovate or expand the franchise or genre in any way. Fans of the series will have enough to keep them happy until the next one rolls along while newcomers may wonder what the fuss is about.