A flawless pass of the torch but not a flawless experience.

User Rating: 7 | Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time PS3

Any fan that hears one of their favorite games will no longer be handled by the same studio will have doubts as to whether or not the new developers will be able effectively capture all that they love about the series, I carried such doubts about Sucker Punch entrusting Sly with Sanzara, a studio that had already earned my ire with the abysmal Secret Agent Clank; however, my reservations were almost immediately washed away upon starting Thieves in time. Yes the fourth Sly captures the charm of the series perfectly, but unfortunately it captures the general monotony of 3 as well.

Flaws

  • Major Once the initial astonishment of the plot and visuals dies down the gameplay begins to take a toll on your desire to play. Though there is much variety in the game and even the mini games don't really feel tacked on nothing is done especially strong, and gives the feeling that the game would have been more enjoyable if the aspects of the different sections had been combined to make a stronger experience instead of having weak but differing segments throughout e.g. playing as Sly's ancestors (who do not benefit from Sly's purchasable upgrades) instead of them just passing their skills onto Sly, or having to use progressively obtained costumes to perform certain abilities instead of having those abilities readily available and leaving the costumes for sneaking.
  • Major Even though this game released about 8 years after 3 the core gameplay has been almost completely untouched, and while there is nothing strictly wrong with that much hasn't been done to keep everything fresh; maybe completing 3 other games in the series right before playing this has contributed to these feelings, but after 8 years I believe more could have been done, in each episode it was downhill for me right after collecting all the clues. Obviously maps lose some their glamour after you've seen all the sights, but they shouldn't ever lose all of it and especially in such a short time, even if I'm incredibly familiar with a location in a game I shouldn't dread the idea of traversing the map to get to an objective. Some missions/areas are great but lots of the time I'm just pushing through to get to see the next cuscene or hear some more dialogue.
  • Major Beyond recapping if a sequel is announced I have zero desire to replay this game, though there are more collectibles and some can only be obtained by returning to episodes with new costumes the game simply is not fun enough to inspire me to ever want to replay especially if its only to search for masks to unlock aesthetic goodies or grind for coins to get some upgrades I don't need or want, I despise such activities in games I adore and doing it in this already tragically dull game sounds torturous.
  • Moderate Boss fights suffer from the same "divide and fail" concept as the rest of the game, all the fights are split into checkpoints (3 for all I believe) and all require you to evade a certain number of varied attacks until your adversary leaves them self open for you to pound on them till they recover, and you repeat the process except each time increases the "difficulty"; this of course does not apply to the final boss fight which is nothing more then an avalanche of QTE's. I would of much preferred only one checkpoint at the start of the fight, and for the fight to actually be engaging instead of a test of my pattern recognition and patience. Thankfully these atrocities only appear once an episode.
  • Moderate Another problem this game shares with 3 is that the story doesn't really revolve around heists or any other sort of thievery but instead a noble quest to save the Cooper line, and while this could work for the setting developers have yet to provide us with the same alluring atmosphere of 2, sure we still have Bentley's slide shows but that building anticipation for the big job or whatever else has been absent in the last two games.

Strenghts

  • Major Phenomenal characters that drive the game regardless of their affiliation and are fleshed out better than even the original games.
  • Major Efficiently comical throughout, not necessarily side bursting but enough to keep you smiling and even laughing out loud during cutscenes in dialogue, which even once comedy is not present is engaging partially due to every characters outstanding voice work.
  • Major Gorgeous and inspired art style and graphics.
  • Major While the plot is not heart stopping it is presented superbly well and even though many twists can be see a mile away the story never lets go of your interest.
  • Moderate Playing as Bentley and Murray is no longer the chore it used to be, Murray's segments are better but still could use some work but Bentley's aren't too far from Sly once it comes to fun (hacking is much better now apart from ball hacks); Carmelita has bumped up to about where Bentley and Murray were in 2/3 in terms of gameplay i.e. meh.
  • Moderate Initial exploration of a map is a blast and some missions really are tons of fun but typically they're spaced a good ways a part.
  • Moderate Collectibles return with more treasure and the addition of masks, as previously stated clues are found to find, and others are an acceptable diversion. Some upgrades are quite useful and sometimes cool, and the unlockables I've seen are actually awesome (Ultimate Sly/Bentley) and may provide some that extra push to replay episodes.

Thieves in Time has been a terribly hard game to review, l adored the story,characters,art style, environments, etc. etc. etc. and many times I was having a great time playing it but right around the time I fought Grizz I began to loathe most of the missions, and I don't believe its because the second half of the game is any worse than the first I believe it is because the fatigue that the gameplay slowly imparted on me began to really set in; the problem is not that any part of the gameplay is bad or repetitive, the problem is almost every different sequence is just okay and they don't come together in away that makes the combined experience any greater. The game is superior in a number of ways once compared to past installments and I believe it has a done a good job at bringing Sly into the modern era, but the developer's decision to divide gameplay aspects and missions into varying lower quality segments gradually makes the game feel tedious as time rolls on. The fourth entry in the tales of Sly can only be recommended to staunch fans of the series and 3D platforming genre.

Future


If Sanzaru or whoever is next in line to develop the Sly games compiles components of gameplay, adds new ways to play or at least provides new and interesting ways to experience already existing gameplay, and creates stronger, more compelling missions I believe the next game can be the centerpiece of this new trilogy (presumably) just as Band of Thieves was for the past one.

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