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Press Start Spotlight: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Release Date: June 12, 2013
Hark back to my premiere review for Press Start Spotlight for just a moment. You may recall that I focused on Mario Party 9, a game in a long-lasting series of titles that had, up to that point, all been under the tried-and-true direction of the same development team. And, unfortunately, the new company recruited for the latest title delivered a disappointingly sub-par product with rather limited appeal.

Why am I rehashing this information right now, you may ask? Well, this situation is relevant once again. Enter – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the fourth installment in the popular, Sony-exclusive Sly Cooper franchise. The previous trilogy of games had taken its place in the PlayStation 2 library, and was a creative masterpiece led by Sucker Punch Productions. Now, not only is Sly making the jump to PS3, it’s also making a jump to new developers in the form of Sanzaru Games. So, the burning question now is: what’s the verdict? Does Sanzaru drop the ball with Sly Cooper like Nd Cube did with Mario Party? Thankfully, no. Well, for the most part.

The gameplay and controls that made Sly Cooper games so fun to play back in the PS2 days are present. Being able to play as some new characters, like old ancestors of Sly himself, adds more styles of play unique to the Sly series. Heck, there are even elements of a third-person shooter integrated into the Old West level! The stealthy sneaking, the crisp platforming, and the well-designed boss battle segments continue to give the game points in the gameplay department. You won’t find anything too disappointing there.

Another couple of Thieves in Time’s strong points definitely have to be its visual and sound departments. The cartoonish graphics Sly Cooper has been known for look pretty awesome on the high-definition PS3, and significantly more detail has been put into character models and animation. As for sound, Sly Cooper fans are already aware that the voice-acting has been top-notch throughout the series, and Thieves in Time continues that tradition superbly.

Despite all these positives, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is just not as good as its PS2 brethren, especially Sly 3, which is probably my personal favorite. For starters, the loading times here are a real drag and drastically take chomps out of flow. Some may argue that it’s because the graphics look so nice, and while that may be true, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s just downright annoying. Also, while the in-game voiceovers are still as solid as ever, I’d really appreciate if I didn’t have to hear the same, or very similar, bits of spoken dialogue repeated a million times. I can go without Bentley congratulating me on my progress in a mission every fifty feet or so, or having to hear character monologues over and over every time I have to retry.

At the end of the day, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time trips over itself in trying to deliver an experience and story akin to that of Sly 3, which I thought provided excellent closure and warranted no need for a fourth game. However, that being said, the game is still good enough and worthy of any PS3 owner. Sanzaru isn’t completely letting Sucker Punch down, but is having a hard time completely filling their shoes.