[Throwback Thursday is a series where we look back on games from the past in reviews, retrospectives, and more. We will have something every week for your retro enjoyment. You may even discover something new to love!]
Here we are at the 299th review, and the third game in the Sly Cooper franchise. So far, I think it is a fun, but flawed, franchise. Let us look at the score here. I played through the first game and thought it was a clunky and poorly-aged platformer. It had a large amount of issues that I think were overlooked, but I still liked the lighthearted story, characters, and fun level design for the stealth platforming. I then played and reviewed the second game, which is considered to be the best game by some sites; however, I think it is a bit overrated. It still has its clunky moments; levels and villains overstay their welcome. And the levels were not really built for Sly’s newly playable best friends. On the other hand, the characters were still fun, and some of the platforming was creative, even though the developers played it a bit safe at times. I just think that while it improved on the original formula, it was also filled with just some unpolished areas. Both games are still worth checking out, but get them for cheap or the Sly Cooper collection on PlayStation 3. Now then, let us talk about the third game and the last Sly Cooper game that was released until this year when the franchise returned. From what I have read and looked at, people considered this to be the weakest game in the franchise. What do I think of it? Well, it once again takes a huge step forward in improvements, but also a huge step backwards in term of design and polish. Why do I say polish, when this game came out a year after the second game? Well, how about you read on and find out?
Our three heroes, Sly, Bentley and Murray are once again back to break open this huge vault that Sly’s family owned on an island. However, they find out that an evil scientist known as Dr. M, voiced by Rick May, has taken over the island and is trying to personally open the vault for his own goals. Bentley comes up with a plan with Sly to get a bigger team of master thieves to pull off such a job. These include Murray’s master, The Guru, voiced by Terry Rose, ex Klaww Gang member, Dimitri, voiced by David Scully, female tech genius, Penelope, voiced by Annette Toutonghi, and ex Fiendish Five member, Panda King, voiced by Kevin Blacktons. They must take down individual villains and then break open the Cooper vault and retrieve the riches. The game’s story begins near the end of the story, where Sly is already on the island with his crew, pulling off the heist. The heist ends up backfiring, and the rest of the story is told in a huge flashback. The main good guy characters are once again enjoyable, and were worth my time investing in them. Some of them even get more character development than the previous games. For example, in this game, Murray, after the incident in the second game where Bentley got his legs broken and is now in a wheel chair, left the group and went under the tutelage of The Guru to find inner peace. Bentley gets a crush on Penelope, but gets a little jealous seeing how all the women want Sly. Panda King still holds anger against Sly, and frustration with Sly beating him, but in the end, becomes one of Sly’s most unexpected allies. The story reminds me of Ocean’s Eleven, where a group of thieves try to pull off the biggest heist ever. I will admit though that the villains are a bit more disappointing this time, with a majority of them not being very memorable. It is a shame, since some of them are creative, but for the most part, they are probably the weakest bad guys in the entire franchise. Some of the new good guys are also a bit weak, but are at least more developed than the bad guys.
The gameplay is basically the same as the last game, but with some improvements in terms of variety. Sly still has all the same moves with him, and the moves that he can purchase in the shop area. Bentley has had the most improvement in terms of movement and mobility. Due to being stuck in a wheel chair, he has made some upgrades, like different gadgets and some jets to boost his jumping and hovering. Murray is pretty much the same character we know and love. The new mechanics and innovations come in the form of the other playable characters. The Guru cannot fight on his own, but he can possess evil goons, and make a quick magical disguise to hide from enemies. Penelope takes over the role of controlling the little helicopter and RC car that Bentley would have been using in the last game. Panda King can target multiple enemies using his fireworks. Carmelita Fox, who is now voiced by Ruth Livier, can shoot her electric gun. You will be using all of the characters listed to pull off different missions within each of the six levels. You can also return to the main campaign’s chapters to do different challenges. Outside of the single-player campaign, there is a two-person multiplayer where you and a friend can play in offline mini-games that you would have played in the single-player game. I like the overall length of the game. For the most part, the levels don’t overstay their welcome and do not become repetitive, like in the last game. There is just a lot more variety to break up everything, but that could be a bad thing? What do I mean by that? Well, let me talk about the graphical presentation first.
Graphically, it is still very bright and colorful, but the graphics are now looking a bit more blocky than usual. Not to the point of PS1 or N64, but the characters aren’t as lively as I think they could have been. The music is entertaining, but is used more for ambiance than something epic or orchestrated, like Super Mario Galaxy or Banjo Kazooie. The voice acting is once again well done, but maybe not as strong for the villains this time around. David Scully, Loren Hoskins, Leo Chin, and Rick May do a good job giving the characters personalities, but I think the voice actors for the good guys are better.
So, as you can tell, I have some gripes about this game. I can’t believe that I am in the third game in the franchise and it’s just not full-on perfect by now. With how much variety there is in the game, the mechanics are not fully fleshed out, and end up being clunky. It’s hard to explain, but it feels like they put in variety just for variety’s sake, without fully fleshing out any of the new mechanics. You don’t even get to choose any of the new ally characters to play as, unless they are a part of one of the main three characters’ mission. A lot of the mini-games were also a bit repetitious, with a lot of the button prompt mini-games being the same, and ending up being boring. Again, I feel like the villains are weak in this game. I like Octavio and The Red Baron because they at least had something fun about them, but the others were not well-developed, or are just forgettable. The big bad Dr. M is pretty cool, due to his backstory, but I feel like the main big bad guy from the first game is still the best. I also saw some sound glitches that ruined the immersion in the game. They took a step forward and a step backwards in this game.
Final Verdict: Why is this the weakest game? I like it!
I really don’t know what to think of this game. I enjoyed it more than other gamers have, and I think the first and second game are much weaker in terms of gameplay, but are stronger in characters and story. I guess, for some reason, I would recommend this one over the others even if the new gameplay mechanics are not fun at times. I can kind of see why Suck Punch dropped making the Sly Cooper franchise for Infamous, even though Infamous is also pretty flawed at points. You can get the PlayStation 2 version of the game or get the HD version off PSN or the Sly Cooper Collection. Let us go into the fourth game and the 300th review, Sly Cooper 4: Thieves in Time for PlayStation 3 and Vita.
Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves Review
Great characters, good character development, a lot of variety within the missions, levels don’t overstay their welcome,
Weakest villains in the entire franchise, some of the playable characters are not fully developed or polished, graphics are looking a bit dated, not all of the new mission types are developed enough