Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was on display at one of the booths at E3, and two levels were playable for attendees. I was a big fan of the previous titles in the series, so Yami and I decided to try it out. The series was originally created by Suckerpunch games, but this newest iteration is being developed by Sanzaru games. The Sly Cooper HD collection was well-received, so the new title will definitely benefit from the collection’s success.
I was partially concerned that the game was being developed by a company other than Suckerpunch. I was pleased, therefore, to see that the mechanics, art style, and voice acting felt totally familiar. The mechanics feel smooth and intuitive, and the game retains (as one would expect) the cell-shaded graphics of the previous games. In fact, due to the cartoony art style and cell-shading, the upgrade to PS3 technology is not that apparent. The primary thing that’s noticeable is the high definition (one reason that the Sly Cooper collection was so appropriate to move to an HD re-release). This is not to say that the graphics are bad- it’s just that both the originals and the modern ones are both beautiful. Those that have played the earlier games will also be pleased to know that the original composer is returning, and the original voice actors will reprise their roles for Thieves in Time.
The story line of the game is that the Thievius Racoonus (the family’s instruction manual of thievery) is sent into the past, and Sly must follow it, enlisting help from ancestors in the Cooper Clan in order to retrieve it. I played a circus level, with rings, wires, and cannons. In this scenario, the only costumes available were original Sly and the “Robin Hood” Cooper. When Sly is in the Robin Hood costume, he can shoot tethered arrows across the room towards predetermined targets. If he hits them, he creates a long tightrope that he can walk across. It’s somewhat of a pity that the tethered arrow ability is limited to using targets placed around the room, but I can understand that it would be very difficult to prevent that mechanic from breaking other puzzles. It is used in unique ways, however, through moving targets. The resulting tight rope will move as well, and sometimes Sly will have to keep this movement in mind as he avoids obstacles along the way. He ultimately saves another Cooper, who seemed to be wearing knight’s armor and a jester’s hat.
Yami’s level was set in feudal Japan, and she actually played as an ancestral Cooper, rather than Sly himself. He was a red raccoon dressed in ninja garb, and had an ability that allowed him to leap to other areas, similarly predetermined by the game. There were some interesting-looking traps in the level, but I was unable to investigate in-depth.
Overall, neither of us saw enough of the game to make much of a judgment. What we can ensure is that the game will be very similar to previous SC games, so if you are a big fan of the series, you will definitely like this iteration. What we can’t yet say with certainty is the extent to which the game differs from the others. Personally, I had a great time with it. Look for Thieves in Time in Fall 2012.