Sony, you Sly... Raccoon.
After a six-year hiatus from PlayStation consoles, it was only a matter of time before Sly Cooper made a return. At Sony's E3 Press Conference, the fourth installment of the thievius raccoonus was announced as Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.
Sly Cooper may be back, but the original developers, Sucker Punch, aren't at the helm. As they were hard at work on inFamous 2, Sanzaru Games, who helped remaster the original Sly titles in HD (and 3D), took the reins of Sony's franchise. Don't fear, though; this is the same Sly Cooper you know and love.
[image1]Well, not entirely the same. The visuals have seen a major upgrade with the jump to the PlayStation 3. The cartoony animations are intact, but with much more detail and an overall crispness that weren't possible in the remastering in The Sly Collection. The advanced detail is used to bring personality to the characters. Murray, for example, was just a fat hippo (how fitting), but this time around, there are visual cues--like bulging biceps--that indicate his raw power and strength.
Sly himself may not appear to have changed at all, but he is a lot older, more sophisticated, and has a few tricks up his sleeve. Each level offers Sly a new costume. These costumes aren't just disguises for the thieving raccoon, they also grant Sly abilities. In the demo we were shown a pirate costume that slowed down time, assisting Sly with puzzles. Another costume was a suit of armor, which deflected a bosses' fireballs back at him.
[image2]Boss battles will be a key highlight in the game. Sanzaru called them "super epic set-piece boss battles", but they were really just your standard fare. In our demo, Sly took on El Jefe (voiced by Nolan North), an egotistical, pyromaniac nutjob tiger, that puts cigars out in the palm of his hand. He sets the stage aflame, and promptly takes off. Sly must give chase, while the entire environment around him falls apart; the environments themselves weigh heavily in boss battles. As for "super epic"m we really don't think so - this was your traditional "learn bosses' pattern, use it against him". But that doesn't at all detract from the fun factor, and if anything, likely helps with accessibility for the core target audience: families and children.
Despite Sly being a family-orientated platform, the game is plenty of fun for all ages. And there is more than enough satirical humor to keep you laughing. That's a big part of what makes Sly great. It also makes it clear that even though Sucker Punch is no longer involved (although Sanzaru does discuss creative decisions with them), this is still the Sly Cooper that stole your heart all those years ago.