Nearly eight years after the last title in the series came out, Sly Cooper is back with a new tale of thievery, animal comradery, and a lot of the same gameplay we've seen before. The fourth game in the Sly Cooper series hits the PlayStation 3 as it nears the end of its life cycle, and Vita owners can get the same experience on the powerful handheld as well.
While developer Sucker Punch Productions had been behind the wheel for the entire lot of PlayStation 2 Sly games, Sanzaru Games has brought Thieves in Time to the PlayStation 3 and Vita. Give Sanzaru credit though, Sly 4 looks and feels just as good as its three predecessors, but fans of the franchise might be left expecting more.
With the better part of a decade in between releases, it's only logical for us to assume that Sly Cooper has had enough time to learn a few new tricks. That's not necessarily the case with Thieves in Time. Most of the dynamics and level design pick up right where Sly 3 left off. In fact, Thieves in Time feels like it should have been a PlayStation 3 launch game. The timing of that release would have made more sense.
Instead, Sly 4 is riddled with a handful of mechanical annoyances and performance stuttering (some of which weren't present last time around) and suffers from disappointing loading times. There's also a few moments of unnecessarily implemented motion control, something most modern PS3 games steer clear of.
It's not all bad though -- diehard Sly Cooper fans will be won over with a sense of nostalgia and will likely blaze through the game like they did all those years ago. Just like these Sly faithfuls, there's a plenty to like. The art style is gorgeous and sharp with its cel-shading aesthetic and comic rendering. While the story is mostly forgettable, it does have its fair share of cuteness and charm which the original trilogy is known for.
Aside from a few technical hiccups, the most damaging thing about Thieves in Time is that it doesn't bring enough new material to the table. That might be more easily forgiven by a core Sly fan, but for the average platformer enthusiast, there's plenty to feel let down about.
It's great that Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is just a $40 title. For that price, you're getting what you pay for. It's an excellent title for younger gamers and is cheap enough to consider for the older gamer who might want to take a stroll down memory lane.
CNET verdict: It's not for everyone
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time completely nails the style and feel of the original trilogy, but doesn't do much to separate itself as a reimagined franchise. It's priced right and is great for kids and Sly Cooper diehards, but those on the fence shouldn't expect anything more than just a new Sly Cooper game in HD.