The Game Is The Same In A Relative Way But You’re Older

Sanzaru Games does their best Sucker Punch in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: February 5, 2013
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Please Note: The PS3 and Vita versions of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time play for the most part identically and there are even cross-buy and cross-save! Heck, there is even some of the coolest cross-platform features we’ve ever seen! This review will cover both versions and differences will be noted in the comments sections in the end.


If you strolled into a publisher's office today and tried to pitch them on your new game featuring a team of anthropomorphic animals who pull off a series of time-travelling heists via last generation platforming gameplay, you’d probably get shown the door politely. If you’ve already gotten that IP rolling during the freewheeling Aughties, though, then it’s all fair game to bring it back. Of course, when your original team has moved on to a whole new series then you turn it over to the same guys you let do the HD port of your game. Yes, you read that right. Sucker Punch handed the reins to Sanzaru Games for Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the long-awaited PS3 entry in the beloved series. Could the new guys work the old magic and make us miss the Ringtail?

The calling card of the Sly series has always been the “Saturday morning cartoon” feel that has pervaded the action. You can see it most obviously in the heavy cel-shading that’s on everything, but it’s also in the way the games are broken up into individual heists that follow a mini-arc from their individual title cards through the epilogues. There are the bits of slapstick humor and the occasional running joke; when you shove an enemy off a roof they pause in midair for a few seconds, flailing a bit and looking askance before gravity finally reasserts itself. It’s got that warm comforting feeling that says you should plop down in your pj’s, bleary-eyed on a Saturday morning with a bowl of Frosted Flakes and play through a whole heist. And that’s exactly what I did two straight Saturdays with my kids. Thieves in Time takes that aspect of the series and runs with it.

Truthfully, Sanzaru doesn’t run very far with the whole thing, they more lounge around in Sucker Punch’s yard. It’s not a huge stretch to say if this was packed in with the Sly Cooper HD Collection[/i][/b] you might not realize it wasn’t just another PS2 port. The controls are a little tighter, the graphics a tad bit sharper and the UI a bit more slick, but boy oh boy this is an old-school Sly through and through.

Do I have time in my life to play through the most refined PlayStation 2 game of all time? It got a little long in the tooth working through all five heists, a task made less appealing by the fact that all five feature the same level features, the same three enemies, the same story structure, all just reskinned for different time periods/environments. Keep in mind that despite playing a LOT of PS2 games I skipped all three Sony “mascot” series the first time around and as a result I played through them en masse with their recent rereleases. So I’ve had a good dose of Sly and PS2 platforming in general the last couple years.

There is a serviceable story here involving the Thievious Raccoonus, time-travel and a whole heap of Cooper ancestors that you get to play with along with the usual gang. On top of that, Sly unlocks five costumes along the way that give him some new powers, almost all of which will be required if you want to grab the myriad of collectibles. So that’s like a dozen characters, but they are all really still Sly and the game doesn’t feel that different when you are Bentley or Bob or anyone else.

Speaking of collectibles, I DO enjoy those and the time spent at the end running around puzzling out how to grab them was among the most enjoyable I had with the game. I also enjoy mini-games, another series staple that makes their return here. Most of them are just one off shooting galleries, driving bits or other simple diversions. The exceptions are the two hacking mini-games, both of which you have to play a half-dozen times and resemble slightly more fleshed out bits of Dead Space Ignition. I hated it by the end.
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