Sly Cooper was one of the most under-appreciated platform heroes of the last generation. Sucker Punch’s fantastic trilogy was consistent and fantastic when it released on PS2, and it wasn’t until the HD edition came around on the PS3 that Sly got the attention he deserved. It was thanks to the efforts of Sanzaru Games that this classic wasn’t lost in the void of time, and now they’re back to do what Sucker Punch never did – deliver a fourth instalment to the franchise.
Now, Sly purists may raise their hands in dispair and cry “no!” at the fact that Sucker Punch aren’t the ones creating a new game, but they seem to be showing no interest in doing such a thing – and so it makes sense for Sanzaru to go off and do it for them. Luckily though they’ve managed to execute it perfectly and really tap into the sense of what Sly Cooper really is.
Clearly their work on the HD collection helped the team understand what makes a great Sly Cooper game as right from the off, both demos available on the Gamescom show floor contained the witty humour that filled the series, along with tight and fun platforming gameplay mechanics and the same comic book styled visuals that previous titles had – although this time with a lot more detail in character models and environments.
Both demos on show were ones that Sanzaru have shown off before, but actually having a chance to play them showed that they were solid adventures that really stand true to the franchise’s gameplay mechanics. As always you’ll have your usual repertoire of moves, but as Thieves in Time allows you to play as Sly’s ancestors you’ll have a character specific set of moves that you can use too. Playing as Sir Galleth Cooper saw him having a hook and slingshot move, along with a shield charge and playing as a Persian costumed Sly – I didn’t catch his ancestors name unfortunately – means you’ve got a slow time ability and a whopping great scimitar to swing.
Gameplay felt largely familiar, with the levels switching between one character to another like they did in Sly Cooper 3. However, my only concerns with how everything plays out is that it can feel a little repetitive. Sly’s Persian section was just the rinse and repeat moves of slow time and then swing sword to destroy cogs so the pink muscle machine called Murray can wade in and thwack a load of goons and raise a bridge for Sly to do his thing again. This gameplay mechanic worked back in the days of the PS2, but now there are many other games to serve as a distraction for your time, it may not be the best method around.
As I just mentioned, you can once again control Sly’s friends in the action. The biggest change has come from Carmelita Fox’s sections as they’ve tightened and improved her aim and moving sections with the twin sticks – so now it’s more in line with what you’d expect. Murray’s sections are practically the same as before, and Sly’s hacking friend Bentley is back with a revamped VR tank hacking game, which feels pretty nice to play. None of these sections feel like they’ve had a major overhaul like Sly’s ancestor mechanic, but they’ve been tweaked to bring them more in line with this generations expectations.
To wrap things up, Sanzaru have still managed to sneak in a whole host of collectables for you to find, including the bottles and safes, along with masks and the plentiful coins you find from enemies and objects. The presence of coins suggests that upgrades and gadgets can once again be purchased for use, and that there may well be a hub based mission system that was found in Sly 2 and Sly 3.
I didn’t get a chance to see or play the PS Vita build of the game, but with Sony’s Cross Buy feature meaning you’ll get Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time on PS Vita when you buy it on PS3, it seems more than likely that it’s in a very similar state to the console iteration – which is no bad thing. I personally love the Sly Cooper series, and finally getting to play its newest entry has reassured me that it’s in great hands with Sanzaru. Now I just have to wait for it to be released.