Game: Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Platform: PS3/PS Vita
Publisher/Developer: Sanzaru Games/Sony Computer Entertainment
Describe This Game in Three Words: Steals Your Heart
Plot Synopsis: Sly Cooper is a retired gentleman thief living the good life in Paris with his Interpol girlfriend Carmelita when suddenly he gets the old itch for the thrill of a heist. That's just when his old partner Bentley shows back up in his life to tell him that the ancestral book that chronicles the thief techniques of his family is being erased from history line by line. Sly reunite his gang to travel through time and set history right.
Up Up: If this is your first outing in the Sly Cooper series it's a fantastic place to start. Set up like a pulp story, even the totally unfamiliar will find themselves drawn right into the tale after the Disney-worthy recap that opens the experience. After that, it only gets better.
Sly is a thief, and that means that most of your missions are going to be won with stealth, not a massacre. You stay out of spotlights, glide with ninja-like precision from perch to perch, and pick enemies pockets with utter simplicity. Being a master thief feels as intuitive as being Batman feels in the Arkham games.
You can progress through the main story pretty quick, but the game, like the LEGO games rewards a dedicated search through every nook and cranny searching for hidden treasure. It'll be quite a while before you get bored exploring the various eras that you travel through.
More than anything though, Thieves in Time uses the power of the PS3 to tell an animated story the kind of which Don Bluth used to be amazing at. If they'd just made a movie then I wouldn't have complained.
Down, Down: At times playing as the rest of the gang feels very forced, especially whenever Bentley has to go inside computer systems to hack. Murray is a little better off, though, as you can use him to beat the snot out of any enemy that thwarted you as Sly. Still, it does sort of serve as a reminder that the last time we had a game where selecting different characters gave you separate, but equal play was probably the old Super Star Wars series.
Left, Right, Left, Right: Sly's controls are based on a formula that goes all the way back to Mario 64, so it should be child's play to anyone that has picked up a controller in the last two decades. Like a lot of stealth games, it suffers slightly when it forces your perspective, but is otherwise standard and proper. Bouncing off of objects can be a little haphazard, though.
B, A: Despite what I said about the forced feel of playing as Bentley or Murray, using Bentley's Doctor Octopus arms to slide bombs into the pockets of enemies may be the funniest thing ever, and Murray shaking coins out of bad guys is almost as good.
Much love must go to Kevin Miller, the voice of Sly who has an easy narration that gives the whole project a Raymond Chandler feel. Miller is just a plain powerhouse that brings Sly to perfect life. He turns in the perfect dry, understated performance that makes any storyline mishaps seem trivial.
Start?: Sly may be too tame for the modern murder crowd, but a better old-school gaming adventure you will not find. It takes only minutes to be permanently hooked on the play. I say plug in and get going.
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