by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
Raccoons Raid more then just Garbage Cans
If you ask someone to name a popular stealth-action series, chances are they will mention Splinter Cell, or perhaps Assassin’s Creed. Limit them to the Playstation 2, and Metal Gear Solid is sure to pop up. Few, however, will mention the excellent Sly Cooper games. While it is true that the franchise focuses more on platforming than stealth, as a thief, Sly Cooper does his fair share of sneaking around. Perhaps it is the anthropomorphic talking animals or the colorful, cartoony graphics, but people tend to dismiss the games as mere children’s titles. However, Sly Cooper picked up his cane before Sam Fisher ever donned the classic green goggles, and with the help of Sanzaru Games, a whole new generation of gamers gets to experience what it’s like to be the ring-tailed thief.
The Sly Collection includes all three games in the series: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves. They are updated to HD and inundated with trophies and a handful of Playstation Move minigames have been thrown in for good measure. Still, the latest game in the franchise is going to be six years old this year. Can Sly Cooper still keep up?
In a word: yes. The Playstation 3 isn’t exactly overflowing with quality platformers, and the three Sly games hold up really well. Though it has been almost a decade since the first game was released, Sly Cooper hasn’t lost his charm.
Meet the Cooper Gang
The first game is the most straightforward of the three. Sly is on a quest to recover the lost pages of his family book, the Thievius Raccoonus. There are five “worlds,” each with around seven levels and a boss as the final level. Levels consist of platforming and mild combat, with a Mario-esque ‘one hit and you die’ dynamic that applies to both you and your enemies. Around 30 clue bottles are scattered around every level, and finding and breaking them all unlocks a safe with a new move for Sly to try out. Every so often the game will throw in a different challenge, like piloting a swamp skiff, manning a turret, or hacking a computer terminal in an Asteroids-type game. The bosses also offer completely different experiences. Without giving too much away, let’s just say Sly Cooper was the first game I ever played that had me beat a boss by dancing.
Sly 2: Band of Thieves is the second game and the crown jewel in the series. Instead of linear missions, it opts for a more open world approach. Missions are varied, and give you direct control over Sly’s companions, a pink pugilistic hippopotamus named Murray (and coincidentally codenamed “The Murray”) and a brainiac turtle named Bentley. All three characters play differently, and you really feel like an elite band of thieves as you switch between them to steal from a rival gang.
The third game and final game Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves deals with an expanded Cooper gang breaking into the legendary Cooper family vault. Though it adds to the crew while keeping the same basic mechanics intact, the gameplay feels too stretched. There are so many different mechanics that at times I felt I was playing a collection of minigames rather than a Sly Cooper game. Also, removing the clue bottles from the environment eliminates the need to explore the game world, taking away part of what made Sly 2 so much fun. By putting Sly and his platforming prowess in the background, Sly 3 actually becomes the weakest game in the series. That’s not to say the game is bad. There are moments of brilliance, and the writing can be quite hilarious. Still, Sucker Punch missed the opportunity to make its final Playstation 2 game its greatest.
A Bit of Spit and Polish
Though the games are remastered in HD, I wouldn’t have noticed at first. They look as good as I remember them being, nothing more or less. However, while the in-game graphics have been redone (cutscenes are in the original, but they were always in a moving picture, comic book style, so it doesn’t matter), the “back to the hideout” clips are intact, and they look rather hideous. Considering that those clips are what the graphics used to look like, Sanzaru has done a commendable job. Sound remains the same, though there is an annoying glitch that I experienced several times in the third game. Every once in a while all the sound would become very static-y, as though coming through a poorly tuned radio. Quitting and restarting from the main menu solved the problem.
After finishing the games there is not much to do. Sure, there are some speed runs and challenges available, and you can go back to collect any clue bottles you may have missed, but I can’t imagine anyone seriously replaying these games over and over again. There are some extra Move minigames, but to be blunt, they are complete shit. They do give some easy trophies, but they aren’t worth more than a single play each. In fact, all three games offer easy trophies gained just by playing through the game, and it shouldn’t be hard to get the platinums. But the value of this game doesn’t come from the trophies; it comes from the fact that three great games, around thirty hours worth, are packaged together for only 40 bucks. If you have never tried the series, now is the chance to experience what you have sorely missed. If, like me, you played them on your Playstation 2 and have been waiting for Sly 4 on your Playstation 3, you might still want to buy the package. Revisit fond memories, grab some trophies and wait for the upcoming sequel.
Some of the best platforming available on the ps3, great value for the price.
If you\'ve played them before, these games are exactly the same. Sly 4 would have been more appreciated.