Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time Review
Available for PS3 and PS Vita, Thieves in Time is the fourth entry in the legendary Sly Cooper series of stealth platform games, and continues where the storyline left off in its prequel Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, released a whopping eight years ago! We begin the game to find our sneaky hero faking amnesia to be with his (former) arch nemesis Carmalita Fox, the police officer who was always just one step behind catching and arresting Sly.
Itching to pull off a heist, Sly welcomes his friend Bentley requiring him to steal a Japanese artefact from the museum of a not-so-upstanding citizen. Bentley’s girlfriend Penelope has gone missing, and the words on the pages of the Thievius Racoonus (the book chronicling the tips and tricks of Sly’s ancestors dating back hundreds of years) are disappearing in front of the gang’s eyes! The brains of the bunch, Bentley rationalises that the reason the entries are erasing themselves is because of issues in the past regarding Sly’s ancestors, and presents a time machine he and Penelope had been working on, perfectly designed to fit on Murray’s rally van. However, in order to work, the time machine requires an artefact from the same time period they wish to travel to, leading to the introductory mission where Sly and his friends need to infiltrate the museum to pinch a Japanese artefact.
A little bonus I found when playing as Sly was one of those simple elements that you only ever notice if it’s horrible or really good; luckily, it’s really good. This bonus is the camera, which automatically re-adjusts itself when you interact with a series of obstacles you need to jump on, etc. in order to progress through the level. Whilst this may seem like a really slight thing to mention, when you’re constricted for time with constant search lights going across these obstacles, you really appreciate the camera angle automatically re-adjusting itself so that you’re looking at the next jumping point, instead of having to waste time doing it manually, which would most certainly get you caught.
Every location of each mission is a wide, open area waiting for you to explore it. Collectables such as Sly Masks, safes, bottles, and more can be found lying around each level, and are a good motivator to fully explore your surroundings as they give you special unlockable items. Another motivator are the various chests, trash cans, plant pots, and other items scattered around that can be smashed into coins, or health if you need it. Given the size of every level, another little bonus is the blue light that emits from the objects you need to interact with in order to advance to the next area, such as a drainpipe you need to shimmy up, a ledge you need to leap to, etc. This little hint gives the mission a slightly more directed feel, along with the directional arrow you can trigger on your mini map, whilst still allowing for as much exploration as you please.
The weaker enemies in Thieves of Time can be easily disposed of in a head-on attack, whereas the larger creatures you encounter are too strong, and will require stealth in order to perform a one hit takedown from behind. Sneaking up behind these enemies cues a string of sneaky stealth music, and gives you the option of performing a two-button combo stealth takedown, as well as pickpocketing. Pickpocketing guarantees you at least one snatch of money, but depending on the depth of your foe’s pockets, can result in multiple delves, with a grand finale of discovering a rare, very expensive item when you finally empty them.
The coins you collect throughout each mission add up to allow you to buy more attacks, bonus moves, etc. at the ThiefNet; examples would include a paraglider for Sly, sleep ammunition for Bentley, and much more. The ThiefNet is accessed at your secret hideout, where you can also access your wardrobe of collected costumes, Murray’s van, and well as replay missions/heists you’ve already done, say to look for collectables you may have missed the first time around. The Time Machine in Murray’s van lets you look at your current and previous missions in more detail, showing percentage of completion depending on if you found all the treasure chests, safes, bottles, and masks. A good feature for those of you who need to get 100% in everything.
Playing as Bentley and Murray in Thieves of Time give the controls you’re used to new life when you play these characters, from trundling along in your wheelchair as Bentley, to thundering about as Murray the pink tornado. Bentley offers a variety of new options and different ways of doing things, such as using bombs to clear obstacles, which you can aim and throw or just place, and these can take care of big doors and blockades obstructing his path, as well as enemies. Bentley’s double jump also lasts longer than Sly’s, thanks to the hover pack engineered into his wheelchair. Seeing that he’s a tech wizard and overall genius, it seems only fitting that Bentley gets a mini mission called a Hack Attack, where you get to control a pixelated data version of a turtle, as you guide it through security measures and firewall protection when you need to hack into an enemy’s computer system. Murray’s missions are all about the brute strength he possesses; a lot of muscle, a lot of hustle, and enemies get pounded into a pulp every time.
Whilst this is Sly’s game, being able to play all the characters ends up just reinforcing your belief in their strong friendship and how well they work together as a team. It still feels like Sly is the main character, just with best friends.