Heralded by a secret video, visible only after completing the third chapter of the HD remastering of The Sly Trilogy, the then called Sly 4 has been made to wait impatiently by all lovers of the raccoon thief.
Sly Cooper is back, and debuts on PS3 in the last year of the latter as the main console from Sony.
To bring Thieves in Time into our homes are the guys from Sanzaru Games, a young team that oversaw the remastering of the raccoon's trilogy and replaces Sucker Punch! in this new adventure from the weirdest and most clever animal gang in video games.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is available for PS3 and PSVita and benefits from the features of Cross Buy (from the PS3 disc we can download the copy for PS Vita), Cross Save (we can use a single save for both versions) and Cross Controller (PS Vita can be used as a radar to search for the numerous game collectibles).
VERSION TESTED: PlayStation 3
Raccoons walking in time
At the end of Sly 3: Honor of the Thieves, we left our hero with a fake amnesia, after hanging up his mask and stick to be able to spend the rest of his life in peace with Carmelita Fox, the inspector of police who have long chased Sly and his companions.
But you know, the raccoon loses its fur but not its vice, and when Bentley's girlfriend, Penelope, another old acquaintance of Sly 3, disappears into thin air along with some pages of the Thievous Racoonus (the book handed down by the Cooper containing all the techniques to become a perfect thief) the turtle decides to put the gang back together and use a time machine, mounted for the occasion on the gang's truck, to understand what is happening to the precious book and find his lost partner.
Having also recovered the pink hippopotamus Murray, the three head to the museum in Paris, in fact, to operate the machine, in fact, you need an object of the time you want to go to, complete with a quote to "Back to the Future" by Robert Zemeckis, the three set off on their greatest adventure, walking around various historical periods.
The worlds visited by Sly and associates are all threatened by criminals of the present, and our raccoon must from time to time ally with his ancestors to foil the plan of the villain on duty; we will then meet Riochi Cooper, ninja of feudal Japan, already mentioned in the first chapter of the saga and famous for his acrobatic jumps, or Bob Cooper, the first ancestor of Sly ever, who stole eggs during the Ice Age and made his way with brute force; all through the Far West, medieval England and Ancient Arabia.
The whole plot told as usual with the humor and animated scenes we had become accustomed to on PS2 Sucker Punch! and that Sanzaru Games has fully collected (after all they remastered the trilogy, so they were not new to Sly and his companions, ed) and passed down in "Thieves in Time".
Not just Platform
Sly 2: The Band of Thieves suffered numerous criticisms for the gender change from the hard and pure platformer (where only one damage was enough and it was Game Over, complete with a life counter) to an action platform with attached life bar; in addition to this, in the series of Sly Cooper from the second chapter onwards, the levels have been eliminated and the missions have been introduced; with an open world map, more or less large depending on the place, our heroes could reach certain points, starting the missions of the main plot and, between one assignment and another, our thieves could collect the numerous collectibles scattered for the play area. In addition, from the second chapter, the protagonist of the game has changed, no longer only Sly was used but also the other members of the gang, each with their own gameplay (although even in the first there were a couple of levels with Murray and Bentley), in the third chapter the band widened further, varying even more the game systems, leaving the platform phases to the raccoon.
In “Thieves in Time” the formula is the same as in the two previous chapters: now you have to get used to the idea that the Sly Cooper saga is a mixture of gameplay, a soup that goes from third-person shooter to beat em up, and although some gameplay hasn't quite succeeded, the effort of Sanzaru Games is appreciable and even the most critical fan of Sly's adventures must now put his heart in peace and accept that this is now the game formula.
The repetitiveness of some main missions is quite another matter: in fact, although in the first three worlds these differ from each other, towards the end of the game they will become more and more similar, with small changes between one and the other, often causing boredom in the more adult players. Another flaw is the excessive ease of the stealth phases and of the title in general, with “uber-idiotic” enemies who will not notice you even if you pass by them, as long as you walk slowly; if you make the mistake of running close to an enemy with a torch, the latter will transform into a ruthless hunting machine thirsty for the blood of Sly and associates, which will chase you and see you even if you are hidden behind a wall, but it won't chase you over the rooftops, where you will be free to sneak again, unless you impersonate Murray, in which case you can safely fill the sentry on duty with sticks and stop the alarm. During the aforementioned stealth phases, which take place or in certain missions, or simply between one assignment and another in the game map, we will be able to pickpocket the unfortunate guards, as in previous chapters, earning gold to be able to buy upgrades for our characters on the now classic Ladronet.
Ladri nel Tempo is suitable for everyone, young and old, thanks precisely to the low level of challenge, which rises slightly only in the battles against end-of-the-world criminals, and in general, between the collection of collectibles and the main story, the title of Sanzaru Games can be completed in about 15 hours .
Let's analyze more specifically the various game systems in which Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is divided.
As well as the predecessors, of course using Sly you will have spying, stealing and most bosses missions of the end of the world, a mission that mostly exploits platform mechanics to which we are used from the three chapters for PS2, that is gutters, pipes, trees to climb on, ropes spread on which to walk, trampolines, pointed roofs on which to stand and so on.
In this chapter, our hero will have five main costumes at his disposal, plus those of the extras that we will not talk about, but which will be obtained by collecting the masks with the effigy of Sly scattered around the game map and for the main missions; these five disguises (one for each era) will allow our hero to unlock new paths, find secret treasures and above all continue in the plot: we will therefore have a saber-toothed tiger fur that will allow us to make great jumps, or an aspiring Robin costume Hood, which will allow us to shoot rope arrows at a specific target in order to reach places otherwise unreachable.
Thanks to the introduction of the costumes, to complete the title 100% it will be necessary to return to the eras already visited, unlocking the secret treasures obtainable only through these special disguises, for example demolishing cracked walls thanks to the prisoner ball.
Alongside Sly, the pedantic Murray, whose gameplay is mostly based on beating hands against hordes of enemies or pressing keys in an exact sequence, and the hateful Bentley, who in addition to moving around in his wheelchair placing bombs in the pockets of unsuspecting enemies, and driving his car in pursuit, he will have to sabotage the security systems of the criminals through three arcade mini-games, already known a few months ago through Bentley hackpack, both gameplay retains the characteristics of Sly 2 and Sly 3, renewing themselves in some sections (such as Bentley's minigames) but still remaining a fundamental part of the Action-Platform formula.
As in Sly 3: The Honor of the Thieves, alongside our hero there will be his beloved Carmelita Fox, armed with an electric gun and ready to slaughter enemies, both with third-person shooter mechanics and as if we were in a shooter on tracks; the TPS part however, could have been better conceived, we don't have time to aim that our enemies have already hit us more than once, forcing us to retreat and wait for the moment when they will be distracted to riddle them with shots.
The real novelty in the gameplay of "Thieves in Time" is certainly the introduction of Sly's ancestors. Each of them will have, as already mentioned, characteristics that make it unique and indispensable for the completion of the game, the already nicknamed Bob, will be able to climb the smooth vertical walls while Tennessee Kid Cooper, like a real cowboy, will be able to fire up to six shots at the same time. , as well as gliding on the tracks better than a blue hedgehog we know.
Finally, the inevitable mini-games return, ranging from pressing the buttons in a certain order, to target shooting, always remaining at a medium-low difficulty level, in short, there really is something for everyone.
Sly Cooper and high definition
The complete transition to high definition of Sly Cooper, after the test with the trilogy which took place two years ago, is successful: certainly the cel-shading is well suited to current consoles, although in the most chaotic scenes the title suffers from slight dips of frames, logically it cannot be compared to the hyper-realistic graphics of other Sony titles but let's remember that we are talking about a saga that was born with this visual style. As already mentioned in the introduction of the review, the animated scenes make a powerful return also in this chapter of the raccoon thief, adding a pleasant pause between one chapter and another, and sometimes even between one assignment and the next.
The audio sector reflects the era in which our heroes will find themselves from time to time, from the themes of the wild west that recall the films of the genre to the calm songs of feudal Japan, nothing memorable unfortunately, but not too boring.
Could we have done more from a technical point of view, then? Definitely yes, but as a first chapter for the Sanzaru Games, the result is satisfying and perfectly captures the legacy of Sucker Punch !.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is probably the first and last adventure of the raccoon to arrive on PS3 but it is an excellent chapter for the series and lets you play with peace of mind, without putting the player in crisis and unfortunately without giving him a constant challenge.
While we are waiting for a fifth chapter, perhaps for PS4 or exclusive for PS Vita, the advice for newbies to the saga is to grab The Sly Trilogy and conclude the total experience with this fourth chapter, in which there are many references to the previous episodes, and Thieves in Time can only be enjoyed full if you have completed the other titles in the saga.
✓ Varied gameplay ... x ... but failed entirely in some sequences
x Too stupid enemies
x Newbies to the saga will not fully appreciate the plot