Following on from events in the third game, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, our dubious hero has now given up the family business of thievery and has instead taken to faking amnesia in order to live the quiet life with love interest Carmelita. However as that old saying goes, “a good thief can never steal enough loot” and Sly once more finds himself lurking in the shadows and sneaking across rooftops as he sets out to steal a valuable dagger from a guarded art museum. With help from Bentley the turtle – the brains behind the operation, (whom had been creating a time machine) and Murray the Hippo – the brawns of the outfit (who’d been enjoying time out to race at demolition derbies), we take control of Sly and attempt to pull off one final heist of a lifetime.
And what a heist it is! No sooner than Sly returns to his ancestral legacy poor Bentley discovers that pages from the fabled Thievius Raccoonus, the Cooper family’s ancient book of master thievery, are strangely starting to disappear before his very eyes. Thus with an awfully convenient time machine on hand (you have to wonder if Bentley was behind it all along), Sly must once more reassemble the old gang together and swoop through history, to help his ancestors save the diminishing Thievius Raccoonus. Who said that plotlines were becoming stagnant? With an exciting cast of characters, all wonderfully voiced to produce some genuinely amusing dialogue, this is one family reunion not to be missed.
Spread out over regions that range from feudal Japan and ancient Arabia to medieval Britain and the wicked Wild West, each of the time periods house a series of smaller missions set within a larger open-world to explore. Much like the 3D platformers of the last generation (Jax and Dexter, Super Mario Sunshine, Sly 2) each world has a load of secret locations to discover and items to collect, much to the point of being as big as the missions themselves, you could easily waste a lot of time exploring every nook and cranny. This makes the game as good for kids as it is for adults. While the story missions can provide a fairly decent challenge, younger players will love exploring the vibrant environments with great physics and beautiful cartoon-stylised graphics.
Each time period also comes with its own set of disguises that bestow unique abilities upon the wearer. For example the samurai disguise from feudal Japan allows you to walk through fire and carry a shield to deflect projectiles, the Arabian thief costume comes complete with heavy scimitar to cut down foes and an hourglass (ala: Prince of Persia) that can slow down time. These disguises and their talents remind me of the old platform games like Mario, where different costumes act as power-ups, and once you have completed jobs, you’ll be able to go back with different playable characters and upgrades to open previously locked locations which really lengthen out the game. Again very reminiscent of older games like Zelda or Metroid which is fantastic!
Talking of upgrades, the game is also similar to that of Crash Bandicoot and the Lego titles in the respect of having to smash up items for coins which can later be traded in at Thief Net for upgrades to characters abilities. Previous items from Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus and Sly 2: Band of Thieves, like the clue bottles, also make a return. With all these collectables on offer along, with various side missions and the occasional boss battle there is certainly a lot to do, sure you could rush through the story missions but you would be missing out on a lot of fun in the process.
While I haven’t had the chance to sample it, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has a lot of cross-platform compatibility with the PlayStation Vita. Not only can you save files share between platforms, but the Vita can be used as a ‘set of X-Ray goggles’ to search for and find hidden collectibles dotted around the many different worlds Sly visits. Due to Sony’s’ Cross-Buy initiative, you’ll be able to get both versions for the price of one!
I could see the Sly franchise being made into films, going slightly off track here I know, and I’d take my kids to see it without question. There are so many nods to the James Bond movies but I also caught references to Star Wars, Dr. Who, Raiders of the Lost Ark and a subtle nod to inFamous, which is now being made by Sly Cooper’s original creators, Sucker Punch. The soundtrack too is very Pink Panther like, fun and upbeat, which is everything a family friendly game needs to be, with plenty of hidden jokes for the adults in the audience.
Some people may be put off by the childish appearance and almost casual gameplay and indeed, hardcore shooter fans won’t find anything of interest here, but for those looking for something that harks back to the days of carefree platforming and exploration then Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time could be what they need.