Sly Cooper Retrospective, Part Three

The story in Sly 3: Honor Among Theives revolves around Sly’s attempt to gain entry into the Cooper Vault, which contains all the treasure stolen by members of the Cooper family from generation to generation. Unfortunately, the vault is on an island owned by the evil Dr. M, who also has his sights set on the treasure. Sly knows that getting inside the vault is no small feat, and that the only way it can happen is by getting some new recruits for the gang…

Gameplay wise, Sly 3 really isn’t that different from Sly 2. Whereas Sly 2 made some major changes to the overall gameplay from the first entry, Sly 3 takes the gameplay from Sly 2 and makes some tweaks to it. The game consists of a combination of platforming, stealth, and minigames with several other genres sprinkled in from time to time. You’ll find yourself skillfully maneuvering around levels, sneaking past guards or pick pocketing them as Sly, hacking into computers with Bentley, or fighting an overwhelming number of enemies with Murray. You’ll also be playing minigames that have you setting off various traps to stop guards from entering your airplane hanger or that have you controlling a giant sea monster, knocking out the guards on a pirate ship. If that isn’t enough You’ll also take to the skies in aerial dogfights, and take part in pirate ship battles.

One of the biggest changes in Sly 3 is the addition of new playable characters. The Cooper Gang’s main goal is recruiting new members to help gain entry into the vault, and once characters are recruited they will take part in different missions. New playable characters include the Guru, who can transform himself into different objects to blend into the background, or who can control guards using mind control, and Penelope, an RC vehicle expert who’s missions mainly have you taking control of her RC car or helicopter. These characters aren’t selectable like Sly, Bentley or Murray, and the missions they take part in are pre-set, but each provides unique gameplay experiences to a game that’s already full of them.

The most unique addition to Sly 3 is 3D gameplay. As you progress through the game you’ll come across specific missions that will give you the option of playing them in 3D. Viewing the missions in 3D requires the use of 3D glasses that come packed in with the game. I admittedly was a little skeptical about how this would work before I tried it, and after having played through the 3D-enabled levels I can attest that it works…but it‘s not perfect. The actual 3D effect is good with scenes given extra depth when viewed in 3D. In fact one particular boss battle becomes a standout moment when played in 3D. An issue I noticed almost immediately though is that that levels displayed in 3D seem to suffer from a lack of color. They aren’t black and white, but they don’t seem to be as rich in color as levels that aren’t in 3D. Also, since the 3D is optional, there isn’t any gameplay that takes advantage of the 3D environments. It’s main purpose is to simply provide a three dimensional word, which is nice, but ultimately reduces the 3D to more of a novelty. In fact, by the later stages of the game I chose to forgo the 3D, mainly since I didn’t want to wear the glasses.

As you play through the game you are able to go back and replay any of the missions you’ve previously completed. You also unlock Master Thief challenges, which have you completing mission objectives under various conditions. One challenge, for example, has you trying to climb to the top of a tower before a timer runs out. Other challenges will have you completing objectives without dying with an already depleted health meter. Some of the Master Challenges and unlocked missions can be played in 3D including some that weren’t available in 3D during the campaign.

Sly 3’s multi-player consists of four different, two-player split screen game types that include Cops & Robbers, Co-Op hack, Biplanes, and Pirate Battle. In Cops & Robber’s one player controls Sly and attempts to collect loot and bring it to a safe area while the other player controls Inspector Carmelita Fox who has to stop him with her shock pistol. Co-op hack puts two players into the twin-stick shooter computer hacking minigame that makes several appearances within the single player game. The goal is to reach the exit gate of the computer system before the other player all while taking on the computer’s defenses. Biplane puts two players into an aerial dogfight similar to the ones you experience during the single player game. The first person to 10 kills wins. Finally, Pirate Battle has you and another player taking control of a pirate ship. Your mission is to sink the other player three times, using the pirate ship’s cannons. As you get hit, your ship will spring leaks, gradually causing damage to your ship, so not only do you have to damage their ship, but you’ll also have to make sure you repair any damage to yours as well.

Visually Sly 3 is the best looking game of the three and its not because it has smoother textures or higher polygon counts or better animation – those things haven’t really changed that much from the previous game. Its because the worlds are bigger, well-designed and have retained the great art-direction that can be found in the games before it.

On the audio front, the soundtrack sounds fine, though it hasn’t really changed in style since the first game and as a result, doesn’t really stand out when you listen to it. One aspect of the audio that does stand out however is the dialogue, mainly because there is good deal more of it here than there was in the previous games. This is due to the fact that there are more playable characters, and as a result, more dialogue between all the members of Sly’s gang. The game for the most part has good dialogue. Every now and then you’ll hear a line that will make you roll your eyes, but overall it was enjoyable.

Sly 3 is an excellent game, and a great end to the series on the PlayStation 2. I’m really glad that Sucker Punch is releasing The Sly Collection on the PlayStation 3, since it will finally give gamers who may have missed it the first time around another chance to experience the fun and unique series.

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Written by Paul Nash

Paul is originally from New York City but now lives in South Florida (A former New Yorker now living in Florida? That NEVER happens…). Paul has been playing video games for a long time. He started playing games during the days of the Sega Master System and NES, and hasn’t really stopped since. He’s owned just about all of the major consoles since then, and quite honestly, doesn’t see the sense in stopping now. Some of his favorite games include Revenge of Shinobi, Final Fantasy Tactics, and The Mark of Kri.

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