New Platform, Same Old Raccoon? We Find Out in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Is Sly stealing candy from a baby, or going after Fort Knox in this long-awaited sequel? We find out in our first hands-on play.

by

Just when you thought it was safe to start leaving your valuables sitting around without fear of them being pilfered, raccoon master thief, Sly Cooper makes his stealthy return to the PlayStation family. Though his latest adventure comes six years since the last game, Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves shipped, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a direct sequel, being developed not by its original creators, Sucker Punch, but rather Sanzaru Games, the team who brought the high-definition The Sly Collection to the PlayStation 3 in 2010.

Porting the previous three games to the PS3 has given Sanzaru time to get to grips with the franchise, and while what we saw in our first hands-on play with Sly's new adventure is certainly in the same style and format fans have come to know and love, there are also new tricks in the works.

Not content to have turned an everyday suburban van into a monster truck and mobile artillery strike, Sly's buddy Bentley has now found a way to allow their ride to travel through time. As luck would have it (or perhaps in direct response) the modification coincides with pages of the Thievius Raccoonus--Sly's family heirloom, and guide to raccoon robbery skills--beginning to disappear. A little creative space manipulation is required, and the game puts you in the playable shoes of Cooper family members throughout the ages.

The first mission we saw had us playing as Sly's ninja ancestor, Rioichi, in a traditional Japanese-themed setting. As a great thief, and the inventor of sushi, he had a bit of a thing for knives. So much so that he had created a door lock system that required using three of his favourite blades as keys to gain access. Unfortunately for us, guards had stolen the precious daggers, and we needed to pickpocket them in order to get them back. Fishing around in coin purses now serves a third function. In addition to rewarding coins to spend on abilities, and giving you quest items, each enemy also has a chance to reward you with a gem that can be sold for bonus cash.

It wasn't all bad news though, and while Ryoichi had some work to do, the tasks were made easier by having access, not only to the Ninja Spire move Sly learns and uses throughout the original trilogy, but a new, and exclusive trick that works as a long range pounce while perched on objects. Tapping the R2 button and pointing the analog stick brings up a landing spot on other surfaces, and we used it to span huge gaps in the environment. This was particularly useful to help avoid the delicate porcelain plates on the floor that once touched would break and alert guards to our location.

Spotlights with machine guns and laser trip floors return, and while seemingly a little out of place in ancient Japan, we were assured they're there for a good reason. While the bad guy(s) responsible for their installation remains a secret, the dev team hinted that Sly isn't the only one who can mess around with time travel.

While this section chasing knife keys had us feeling right at home with the sorts of gentle stealth and platforming we've seen in previous Sly games, we did come across an issue with gauging danger from some of the roving searchlights. One set in particular appeared to sweep over a rope we needed to jump to, but it was only once we had rotated the camera to get a better view that we realised the two were some distance apart.

The second mission we got to play moved from the wooden floors of a traditional Japanese village to a slightly more chaotic circus theme and complete with fire rings, huge golden musical horns, and trapezes to swing on. It also gave us a quick glimpse at the game's new costume feature. While you will only play as one of Sly's previous family members at a time, costumes will grant you extra abilities you may need to do more exploring. For example, if you were to come across an arrow bucket but hadn't yet obtained the Robin Hood-inspired archer look, you wouldn't be able to traverse across certain areas. Once you had gained it, you could then fire an arrow with a tethered rope attached, and use it as a makeshift bridge. The team wouldn't be drawn on exact details of what would be given to players who backtrack to use the new found talents, but alluded that they may be tied to both extra missions and better rewards.

Firing arrows during the circus level offered a welcome relief from the standard platforming, and came with its own challenges as we steered them towards targets and dodged enemy cannonballs.

Fans hoping that Sly's first new outing on the PlayStation 3 will finally allow for online cooperative or competitive play will have to keep on waiting, with the development team saying it currently has no plans for adding an online multiplayer mode. That said, if you liked Sly 3's split-screen competitive modes, they may make a return here.

If you were expecting that after such an extended hiatus, Sly's return would mark a completely new look and style for the series, then from what we've seen so far, that doesn't appear to be the case. This is a sequel, not a reboot. What we did see was familiar, and grows on the already successful mix of jumping puzzles, stealth combat, and humour. Our brief look at the new costumes system gave us a taste of potential for a much deeper exploratory experience, and we're interested to find out more about how it works, and the rewards for players who take the time to go searching out all the nooks and crannies of the game world. Look for more on Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time when it hits the PlayStation 3 later this year. Hey… where did my wallet go?

Discussion

33 comments
dnguyen3
dnguyen3

Games like these were great when I was younger, brings back good memories. Good times..... good times.

bjklol
bjklol

"In addition to rewarding coins to spend on abilities, and giving you quest items, each enemy also has a chance to reward you with a gem that can be sold for bonus cash." Isnt that exactly what they had in sly 2 and 3????

bjklol
bjklol

sly 3 was 7 years ago, not 6.

clr84651
clr84651

My son can't stop thinking about it since I told him.

Tank252ca
Tank252ca

My kids and I played all 3 Sly games on the PS2 and they played them more than once. One of the best family games series for Playstation. The HD release was a good way to introduce the series to new fans and Thieves in Time is a sure buy for our household.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@b0sse Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!! I still need to buy Ico & The Shadow of Colossus HD, Infamous 2, Journey.... and now this!! There's too many exclusive games for the PS3 to buy them all!!!! :cry:

Guitar_Shadow
Guitar_Shadow

Ever since Bently hinted to us about the time machine at the end of Sly 3, I've been waiting for a 4th game. This game is going to be amazing, I'm going to replay the crap out of it

SonicRaptor
SonicRaptor

No lie, I completely forgot a new Sly Cooper game was incoming. That's not a knock against it, though, I will buy this game.

videogamer008
videogamer008

you know, i have had been waiting for another awesome stealthy action packed game with Sly, his friends, and his Cooper acestors that i couldnt wait no longer... i drooled everytime when i saw a new trailer, pictures, etc but then reading this made a foutain of drool in my computer room. Sanzaru, i am VERY glad you took ahold of this frachise because i love sly games and to that i put: dont stop making them.....VERY VERY IMPRESSED by you guys at sanzaru and the guys at sucker punch... i love the infamous games and other game sucker punch made.

inso-maniac
inso-maniac

@jerseycarter15 let me try to understand this correctly. you clicked on sly cooper to say that??? wtf??? im not gonna insult you, you seem to be torturing urself as it is

littleghostie
littleghostie

Just got a ps3 last thanksgiving, man their is a lot of exclusives to play through.

mute4
mute4

Just bought the Sly collection! too bad I don't have any time to play it :(

NightFox313
NightFox313

@jerseycarter15 So's and the majority of the First-Person Shooters on the market. This game wants to be different and that's why I'm going to get it.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

Despite the fact that I used to own every single Sly game on the PS2, I'm buying the HD Collection next month. These ideas sound promising, I really hope a successful return for the good old platforming days. Bring on Jak & Daxter too!

guoital
guoital

Very good article. Thank you.

ash162
ash162

Must get that HD collection and fast!!

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

Cannot wait. My favorite game series last gen, and it's the reason I purchased my PS3 (Demon's Souls was a lucky bonus!). Can't wait, can't wait!

Bangerman15
Bangerman15

i decided to try out sly cooper 1 for free when it was a ps+ download like a month ago or so and i loved it, so i bought the other 2 sly games as well, im currently on the second one which i like alot but i cant wait until the 4th :) really wish i played these back on the ps2 though cuz theyre alot of fun

sora123455
sora123455

Looks great!! After hearing a fourth was teased, I immediatly played through the third one and loved the series all over again!(Not like I stopped loving it before. :))

Namgis
Namgis

Not going to read the article because I don't want any spoilers at all for this game. I am excited for the new Sly. The HD collection is truly fantastic.

sexyweapons
sexyweapons

If its anything like the previous games,its going to be great:)

Chippa7
Chippa7 moderator

@zako11 Well spotted. Fixed. One internet cookie for you.

vito72
vito72

This and Last of Us are the only upcoming games I'm actually excited for. I know I'll end up with all the big name annual re-hashes, but I'm giddy for this to come out...... and I'm not prone to giddy-ness.

whitejackel
whitejackel

ah grew up with sly and hes what got my lil sis playin v games :) good times.

moviequest14
moviequest14

I can't wait for this! It looks like they're really keeping to what made the series great!

moviequest14
moviequest14

@hella_epic : Probably the best games of all time (with Beyond Good and Evil included by myself) :P

PS3BigFan
PS3BigFan

It's been 6 years since I played Sly 3. I'm definitely looking to get this one, I just can't stop thinking about it every time I play Infamous.

zako11
zako11

errm you spelt Rioichi Wrong.

hella_epic
hella_epic

sly cooper,jak and daxter and ratchet and clank....probably the best games i owned on my PS2

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I've not played any of the games, I hadn't even heard of them until GameSpot mentioned the HD pack, but I've seen videos of them and they look really awesome. I would absolutely pick them up if they ever came out on PC.

b0sse
b0sse

@warhawk-geeby: The first three Sly PS2 games are MUST PLAY!

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Never have played any of the Sly games (had a deprived childhood!). I'll keep my eyes on this one though, the series must have a lot of fans for a reason. Fingers crossed it'll be a good one!